2008 Burgess Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Mission Codename: Above it all

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: With Howell Mountain’s Burgess Cellars under extended surveillance, rush to procure their newest Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Burgess Cellars

Wine Subject: 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Bill Sorenson

Backgrounder: Our Operatives love Burgess Cellars’ Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. We’ve had the great honor – and pleasure – to have featured successive vintages of this wine, dating back to 2004.

Burgess Cellars gave us exclusive early access to their newest release, their stellar 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Today’s selection comes from Burgess’s Howell Mountain Estate Vineyard. The Howell Mountain region in the Napa Valley is the birthplace of some of our very favorite wines. We fell in love early on and we have not been disappointed by a high-elevation Howell Mountain wine.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Striking iridescent Burgundy hues at the edge of the wine, color darkens toward the core. After swirling the wine, tall legs take a long time to emerge, before running slowly down the wall of the glass.

Smell – A bold rush of candied blackberry and black cherry rush to greet the nose. As the wine breathes, red currant, dark strawberry, and dark plum mingle with spice, dried tobacco leaf, sweetwood, black tea and toasted oak.

Feel – Full-bodied and textured, with great backbone and plush overall structure. Tannins are firm, but not rigid. Bold acidity frames the fruit and drives flavors to the far corners of the palate.

Taste – Black cherry, backberry and cassis provide a condensed, fruit-first experience, with flavors that then yield to spice, star anise, black pepper, leather, tobacco and a hint of cocoa powder.

Finish – Long, flavorful and with fruit that is beautifully framed by plush tannins and bright acids. As fruit slowly dwindles, spice and earthen components leave behind a chewy feeling and a gradually spreading dryness.

Conclusion – The 2007 Burgess Celllars Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was a big hit with our tasting panel! This wine is, hands down, the best 2008 Napa Cabernet we have tasted. While this wine is certainly youthful, it is ready to drink – right now. And, this wine is certain to keep improving for at least the next decade. Bold, flavorful, texture and deeply aromatic, this wine embodies everything that we have come to expect from higher-end Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Why the low price? Simple: it is because the Burgess Family purchased their estate, where their vineyards reside, back in the 1970s – when the cost of land was much lower. Burgess has always priced their wines accordingly. Decant to bring out the more subtle qualities of the fruit, and pair with a grilled steak or a juicy Prime Rib.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Steve Burgess

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: We are into terroir and brilliance.



AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Steve. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

STEVE BURGESS: You are welcome. We really enjoy our continued missions to spread our clandestinewines through your network of spies, ”terroirists,”and foodie operatives.

RED: Excellent! Tell me, was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

STEVE: Europe in the 1960s.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

STEVE: Europe in the 1960s.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

STEVE: We make wine for ourselves – in a style that is LOVED by chefs, foodies, and serious-wine people.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

STEVE: This is our “flagship” wine, our focus since 1972 has always been on our hillside Napa Valley Cabernet, it’s why we’re here. In the 1960’s Tom Burgess discovered Napa while flying around the world with his job in the Air Force and for IBM. You could say he spied on all the wine regions of the world and Napa was his favorite.

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

STEVE: Lamb, hearty pasta, roast beef!

RED: In your opinion, what makes your Napa Valley vineyards so special?

STEVE: It’s our favorite place in the world to grow Cabernet!

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

STEVE: Working with the vineyard crew on pruning for quality and consistency.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

STEVE: With an open mind, mouth, and a curiosity as to “Wow, why is this so different and great? Where have you been all my life!”

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

STEVE: Please visit Burgess, we have the best view of the Napa Valley to enjoy while trying our estate-only wines. We are a part of Napa’s history, come see why!

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Burgess Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.

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