2007 Topel Winery Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Mission Codename: Duncan’s Delight

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Visit Topel Winery and acquire an allocation of their delicious 2007 Estate Reserve Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Topel Winery

Wine Subject: 2007 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Donnis Topel


Mendocino AVA, located along the Russian River and highway 101 north of Sonoma County is where the grapes for this delicious Cabernet Sauvignon were grown. The actual AVA is centered between Hopland and Ukiah in the southern third of the county and are heavily influenced by the climate which is regulated by the mountain ridges that surround the upper Russian River. The deep alluvial and gravelly loam soils also contribute to the flavor profile of the grapes grown in the region. While Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Chardonnay are the primary grapes grown in the region, Cabernet Franc, Barbera, Petite Sirah and many other secondary grapes thrive in the climate.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Darkest burgundy hues, with a ring of brilliant magenta at the edge of the glass. After spinning the wine, tall, thin, wine-stained tears fall from high up on the glass, descending slowly to the wine, below.

Smell – A rush of mixed preserves of blackberry, blueberry and blueberry rush up to greet you on the nose. These are followed by ripe raspberry, candied cherry, soft brown spice, leather, subtle tobacco, dried black flower petals, subtle wild fennel and a hint of freshly cracked pepper.

Feel – Initially silky and then the wine grips the edges of the palate. Then, slowly, an elegant plushness spreads all around the palate as integrated tannins combine with a bright acidity to drive flavors to the far corners of the mouth.

Taste – Ripe and juicy, with generous mixed berries, cassis and plum in the lead. The more you spin the wine, the more it opens up, revealing additional aromas of braised mission fig, earthy leather, subtle tobacco leaf, brown spice, black cherry skin and a hint of cracked pepper.

Finish – Juicy and delicious, with dark berry fruit giving way to earthy flavors, spice, subtle dark minerals and a flinty cracked pepper that can be felt at the edges of the tongue and along the gumline.

Conclusion – Just outstanding! Today’s 2007 Topel Winery Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a dark, delicious, fruit-filled wine that delivers a great rush of fruit, an elegant mouthfeel and heady aromatics. This wine is very well balanced and it is drinking beautifully. Well-structured and complex, this is a fun wine to sip and discuss, pulling apart the myriad characteristics on the nose and palate. Pair with a beef stew or your favorite steak on the BBQ. Highly recommended, drink this gorgeous wine now – or hold this age-worthy gem for up to 10 more years.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Mark Topel

DATE OF BIRTH: January 11, 1945

PLACE OF BIRTH: Chicago, Illinois

WINE EDUCATION: Self-taught. Audited courses at UCDavis, mentored by some of the finest CA winemakers who are good friends, and OJT.

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Winemaker, Topel Winery 1996 – Present

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Minimal intrusion. Let the grapes express themselves.

SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Tremendous positive feedback from satisfied customers

WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”Each vintage is like a new and unique poem—handcrafted and polished to perfection”


AGENT RED: Greetings, Mark. We are thrilled to be showing your exceptional 2007 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

MARK TOPEL: It is always a pleasure to share our wines with you and your discerning Operatives, Agent Red!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

MARK: 1962/63 Penfolds Grainge Hermitage, discovered while I was in Australia, trying a legal case.

RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?

MARK: From my co-winemakers whose families had been working with grapes from our area for five generations.

RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?

MARK: Minimal intrusion to allow the grapes to express themselves in the most profound manner possible.

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

MARK: Three; The aforementioned Penfolds Grainge Hermitage style, Harlan’s Red Table Wine—Merlot/Cabernet Blend, and Chuck Wagner’s Caymus Special Select.

RED: How long have you been making wine?

MARK: Since 1993

RED: Who do you make wine for?

MARK: Simply, ourselves and our customers

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

MARK: There are no shortcuts, no tricks, only hard work, long hours, and dedication to perfection.

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

MARK: Lately, we’ve loved drinking this wine with a good steak or roasted chicken.

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

MARK: Our Topel Estate Blend

RED: We’ll have to feature that one, soon! How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?

MARK: In a not-too-serious, but appreciative mode, reflecting an understanding that they are about to experience a very pleasurable product, which has resulted from lots of loving and joyful careful preparation.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Hopland/Mendocino region so special?

MARK: We have a unique micro-climate in Southeast Mendocino. Very similar to Calistoga. Warm summer days with cool Summer nights. Our ground is very difficult and filled with iron and magnesium. The grapes reflect that minerally quality, which works magically together with full food flavors.

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

DONNIS: We’re preparing for the summer bottling of our Napa Gamay and Dry Creek Valley Syrah. We’re watching the 2009 Topel Estate and Napa Reserve Cabernets closely, in the barrels, and will decide very soon when to get them in the bottle.

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

MARK AND DONNIS: Likewise, thank you for the opportunity to introduce new people to our wines!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of Topel’s Healdsburg tasting room where today’s wine and other great wines can be tasted can be seen in this satellite photo.

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