I had the wonderful opportunity this weekend to taste some back-vintages of Etude Napa Valley Cabernet and Carneros Pinot Noir. Etude is a well-respected new-world producer of many white and reds sourced mainly from their vineyards in Carneros and other parts of the Napa Valley. Some people think that they are best known for their incredible sub-appellation specific Cabernets, however, I think of them more as a great house of Pinot Noir. The winery is housed in the grand old buildings that formerly housed RMS Brandy Distillery.
Etude was founded about 25 years ago by the New World Pinot Noir luminary, Tony Soter, who still acts as one of head winemakers. The other outstanding winemaker is Jon Priest, another veteran of the California wine industry.
All of the wines available for tasting that I’ve listed below were poured from Jeroboams and decanted in a Riedel Cabernet-Merlot magnum decanter prior to tasting. The amount of time in the decanter really varied, so I can’t really comment on how long they were getting some air.
The highlights of the night were the 1998 Etude Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2001 Etude Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, even if the ’01 was still a bit muted. Coming from the large format bottle, it could have been in that sometimes quoted “5-10 year dumb stage” for Napa Cabernets. This refers to the fact that wines are constantly evolving as they age and sometimes you find that great Napa Cab’s have a stage in their development about 5 – 10 years after their vintage where they can be found to be surprising muted as their flavors and structure continue to integrate. The other wines we tasted and greatly enjoyed, are listed below.
Check out the links above for my tasting notes on these outstanding wines and the background information on Etude and wine, in general.