2008 Maple Lane Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Mission Codename: Autumn on Maple Lane

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Secure an exceptional example of a Cabernet Sauvignon the soon to be classic 2008 vintage from Napa Valley.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Maple Lane Winery

Wine Subject: 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Brad Smith

Backgrounder: We all love Napa’s Cult Cabs, with many receiving the top ratings, awards and accolades, we deserved in every sense of the word, but at prices of $75 plus, and often times much more, the are difficult to justify in these difficult economic times. This is the motivation behind our mission today that is bringing you the brand new release of Maple Lane’s delicious Napa Cab. Some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the world come from Napa Valley. A delicious and elegant example of the varietal, today’s wine is a Classic Napa Cabernet. Approachable, richly flavorful and deeply delicious, this wine shows off the winemaking skills of Brad Smith.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dense and deep ruby red with slightly lighter but still deep ruby red edges and clear core that shows bright streaks when held to the light. When swirled, this wine settles quickly and leaves fast thin legs on the side of the glass that are followed by fatter tears that hang before slowly descending.

Smell – Rich and ripe, this redolent wine shows classic notes of tangy dark fruit including blackberry, currants, cassis and dark cherry. The ripe fruit is framed by soft toasted oak and black licorice. Complexity is added with hints of green herbs, dark mocha coffee and sweet spice.

Feel – This dry and full-bodied wine is smooth and expansive on its initial attack with its firm but finely grained tannins, balanced acidity and softly textured minerality kicking in at mid-palate and reaching the far corners of the mouth.

Taste – Rich and deep flavors of ripe and dense dark fruit including blackberry, sweet black cherry, currants and ripe plum blend with notes of sweet spice, toasted oak, black licorice and dark mocha coffee. Notes of hot and spiced pepper, green herbal notes, bittersweet cocoa and soft earthy minerality follow and add complexity.

Finish – Extremely long, rich and complete with the fruit lasting several minutes while the other complex flavors gently fade leaving just a touch of ripe fruit over this wine’s mouth drying tannins that invite another sip.

Conclusion – The 2008 Maple Lane Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is full, rich and deeply satisfying. Classic aromas and flavors that you’d expect and a very well developed palate and mouthfeel for a relatively young, soon to be classic. The 2008 vintage is shaping up to be exceptional and this wine is no different. Enjoy this wine tonight after letting it open or cellar for up to ten years. We paired this lovely wine with grilled bourbon-marinated sirloin tips.

Mission Report:

AGENT RED: Greetings, Brad. We are thrilled to be showing your newest vintage Cabernet Sauvignon. Thanks so much for giving us the exclusive! You know, our tasting panel went crazy for the wine and I must admit to being an instant devotee as well! Thanks again for the wine, and for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

BRAD SMITH: My pleasure. We like your spy-style!

RED: I know that you’re busy, so I’ll jump right in. Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

BRAD: I first moved to Napa Valley to work as a massage therapist. At that time I thought fine wine was bourgeoisie nonsense. Then a friend of mine kidnapped me and forced me to go wine tasting. I fell in love.

RED: Massage to wine. Sounds not unlike my own wine career. Where did you learn the most about winemaking?

BRAD: I have learned the most about winemaking working day in day out at wineries. It is a gradual accumulation of knowledge. I learned a great deal in school (at Frenso State) but nothing compares to the daily grind of working and solving problems at a winery.

RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?

BRAD: Simply put, I try to make the wine tasty and balanced. Most of work is done in the vineyard. The single most important variable is getting the fruit to the ideal ripeness. I am looking for no green flavors and lots of deep, intense fruit flavors, and not letting it hang so that bright fruit turns to pruny or raisin flavors. I also feel that choosing the right oak barrels to age the wine is extremely important. I use primarily French oak, with a smattering of Hungarian and American oak. I like to use as much new oak as the wine can handle.

RED: You’ve certainly accomplished your goal of makingtasty wine. What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

BRAD: Paul Hobbs. I love the rich and deep flavors of his wines.

RED: How long have you been making wine?

BRAD: My first cellar job was in 1996.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

BRAD: That is a good question. Ultimately, I make wine for those two people having dinner together, in hopes that the wine will spark a little magic between them and make the world a better place. Too corny? It’s true, that is what motivates me.

RED: Not corny at all. Good and romantic. Tell me, what makes the Napa Valley so special?

BRAD: I can’t say exactly, but Napa certainly is a special place. Somehow it is blessed.

RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?

BRAD: Work for people and wineries you respect regardless of how much they pay or what your title is.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

BRAD: Harvest is just wrapping up!

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

BRAD: Filet mignon and mashed potatoes.

RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?

BRAD: We always have so much wine in our house that I don’t have an everyday wine. Every night we drink something different. I love to drink Cabs from Napa, call me biased.

RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?

BRAD: I recommend people approach wine with a spirit of adventure, enjoyment and pleasure. Not to be crude, but in the same way one should approach lovemaking. And what is beautiful about wine is that you can enjoy wine from all over the world and have a different wine every night and nobody gets hurt.

RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?

BRAD: I would like to drink a bottle of Petrus. I don’t want to just taste it, I want to drink it. I want to see if it makes you feel anything special.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We purchased a case for our own cellars and we look forward to your future releases!

BRAD: Thank you very much. Cheers!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The approximate location of the Maple Lane Winerycan be seen in this satellite photo.

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