Quick, Before The Secret Gets Out

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - March 05, 2008
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Oh boy, oh Roy!
Oh boy, oh Roy!

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone what I’m about to tell you. But I was so impressed with these wines that I have to tell someone. I know these wines are hard to find and they certainly aren’t cheap. But these are wines that not many people have heard of yet. So if you are lucky you should try to find these wines before they hit the rarefied air of cult status.

Ever heard of Roy Estate? It is owned by Charles and Shirley Roy. They have a 17-acre vineyard in the foothills of the Vaca Mountains on the eastern side of Napa Valley, where the soils are extremely rocky. It was planted in 2001 and 2002 by the Pina Vineyard Management Company under the direction of super wine heroine Helen Turley. Seventeen acres are divided into 17 blocks, 12 of Cabernet Sauvignon, four of Merlot and one of Petite Verdot. From this exceptional vineyard and its exquisite raw materials, winemaker extraordinaire Philippe Melka crafts two stunning wines. The 2005 Roy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 93 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, the rest being Petite Verdot. It has a thunderous nose of deep cassis, coffee, mocha and vanillin. The texture is mouth-coating and rich, to say the least. It has sweet and fine tannin with a high-toned, almost blueberry-like fruit on the finish. It is a truly compelling wine with volumes of weight and flavor.

The other wine produced here is the 2005 Roy Estate Proprietary Red Wine ($100). This is a blend of 83 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and the remaining balance being Merlot. This wine is the perfect compliment to the Cabernet Sauvignon as it exhibits a more elegant streak. It has no less complexity, but favors a smoother and rounder attack on the palate. It wafts of blackberry, cedar overtones and a hint of warm earth. It is wonderfully seductive for being such a thick wine. I have rarely found this combination of power and seduction in a wine. With a total production of 2,250 cases for the world, this wine will be scooped up by cognoscenti and collectors the world over, and I can see why.

Schein wines shine
Schein wines shine

Another name you must know about is Erna Schein. Erna Schein (previously known as Behrens & Hitchcock) is the brainchild of proprietor/winemaker Les Behrens. He named the label after his mother. I have always been keen on the wines made here. But they make so little wine, it’s hard to talk about. And each year the wine names change, which is both fun and confusing at times. But the change in name is easy to get over once you taste these blended gems. The 2005 Erna Schein Spare Me ($55) consists of 76 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 percent Merlot and 12 percent Cabernet Franc. It has a lovely and intense bouquet of violets, pomegranate, black berries, sweet Spanish cedar and toast. It is decadently fruity, approaching jammy, but without being overdone. The ripeness is balanced by pleasant acidity and a lengthy after-taste on the fruit and vanilla. It is a wine that keeps me coming back for more.

The 2005 Erna Schein Herrick-Moulds Cabernet Sauvignon ($75) is 95 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 5 percent Petite Verdot. This wine has an even headier nose of black berry, plum, sweet tobacco and spices. It has a more penetrating intensity, with a thicker structure than Spare Me. It grips your palate and doesn’t want to let go. This is for the pure hedonist who wants it all and wants it now.

Speaking of now, that’s when you should try to find these wines. Quantities are extremely limited and the cult grows for these wines. If you can’t find them, you can’t say I didn’t tell you so.

Happy hunting!


Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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