Once in a while something good comes unexpectedly. Grassi was one of those. Mark Grassi moved to Napa in 1980 and began his career in construction in 1989. It's difficult to be in Napa and avoid the wine bug. While developing estates and vineyards for others, he took classes in viticulture. In 2001 he bought 14 acres in Napa and planted his own vineyard. The first Cabernet Sauvignon from Grassi was the 2005 and the reviews were high from the start. We were offered the wine and with one taste the relationship between Grassi and ABC began.
The vineyard is just up Soda Canyon Road on the east side where the Vaca mountain range boders the valley. The site was on an ancient river bed like so many places in the world where Cabernet Sauvignon thrives. The soil is composed of rolled stones from the river washed down from the Atlas Peak area over eons. Pebbles in the soil range in size from tiny to melon-sized and create perfect drainage and low fertility, prime factors in producing quality wines. The first vines were all Cabernet Sauvignon planted densely to stress the vines and avoid over-production.
Mark Grassi saw the effects of poor vineyard management and vowed to respect the land with sustainable farming. He uses compost to renew the soil and cover crops which conserves water and repels insects, attracts helpful insects and adds fertility later. The soil is dry in this part of the valley and irrigation is a must but the Grassis only do it at night to avoid loss from evaporation. They also station roosts for owls and other predators around the vineyard to keep out the pests.
The current Cabernet Sauvignon vintage is 2013 and has followed its forbears with high praise:
“A dark, sensual wine, the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon graces the palate with expressive blue and dark red fruit, cinnamon, cloves, licorice, menthol and new leather. Drink this bold, racy Cabernet over the next decade or so. The 2013 offers a fabulous combination of concentration, mid-palate depth and intensity, but with silky tannins that give it tons of near and medium-term appeal. The 2013 finishes with striking freshness and a closing note of sweet French oak. 94” Antonio Galloni - Vinous
"A rustic, rich and juicy style, with racy blackberry and currant flavors that are tempered by toasty, cedary oak, turning to mocha and crushed rock details on the finish. Drink now. 700 cases made. 91" Wine Spectator
Get a bottle of Grassi Cabernet Sauvignon ($67.99) online here.
Brad Lewis, Contributing Writer