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Vineyard 7 and 8: Simple Name, Complex Wine
By Jim Clarke

Vineyard 7 and 8 on StarChefs.comVineyards have been popping up in the Spring Mountain District AVA in northern Napa for many years: the first documented plantings were in 1874. The springs themselves help illustrate why it’s a good area for wine grapes; the water is emerging from deep under volcanic soils with little fertility but good drainage, conditions which force the vines to dig deep for water and nutrients. That’s the kind of push vines need to create wines with intense flavor and richness.

The producer Vineyard 7 and 8 is a newcomer to the area, but the vineyards themselves were replanted (after a post-Prohibition period of neglect) in the mid-80s, giving the vines time to mature and dig in. Owners Launny Steffens and Steven Grover bought the property just a few years ago and set their sights high, aiming to make world-class Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from the grapes growing on their new property.

Their winemaking team knew well what the demands of a world-class wine could be. Christian LeSommer worked for Chateau Latour and Chateau Yquem for many years, while Larry Langbehn comes to the project with local experience at a number of California wineries, including Freemark Abbey. The soil composition of Vineyard 7 and 8 changes every 50 or 60 feet, so LeSommer and Langbehn have their hands full balancing the varied character of these different blocks; on the plus side, however, this brings added complexity to the wines.

Vineyard 7 is devoted to Cabernet Sauvignon; restrained (by cult Cab standards) in alcohol and sporting food-friendly acidity, it features layers of dark fruits, chocolate, roast coffee, and a pleasing earthiness. The tannins are firm but not obtrusive, and the wine should age well for over a decade. Vineyard 8 is all Chardonnay; if 7 looks to Bordeaux, 8 turns to Burgundy for its inspiration. While it does show some of those tropical fruit aromas typical to California Chardonnay, the minerality, lively acidity, and smoky, clove-touched notes from oak-aging speak with a French accent.


 
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       Published: September 2005

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