Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a wine tasting featuring several Flora Springs wines from the 2002 vintage. The tasting was held at the Crosby Golf Course Country Club. The event was very informal, and attended primarily by golfers. The event was not targeted to members of the wine media. Readers of this website know that I always have kind words for the wines of Flora Springs, particularly with regards to their regular bottlings, which are attractively priced. The wine tasting featured samples of the 2002 Trilogy, which is one of my favorite meritage wine blends. As usual it was excellent. I also sampled two different chardonnays, a merlot, and a wonderful sauvignon blanc called Soliloquy which was as fresh and refreshing as any sauvignon blanc I have ever had from California. I was especially pleased with the Napa Valley Cabernet, which I consistently buy every year. It is one of the best Cabernets for under 30 dollars.
The highlight of the evening occured after I chatted for about a half hour with the fellow pouring the wines. When he learned of my passion for quality California cabs, he reached under the counter and poured me a glass of cabernet from a secret stash that was not part of the official wine tasting. Boy was it good. I mean really, really good. It turned out to be the 2002 Flora Springs Rutherford Hillside Reserve. This wine is from estate vineyards on Komes Ranch in the Rutherford area of Napa Valley. This is one of Napa’s premier growing locations for cabernet. The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, and aged in 75% new French Oak barrels for 21 months.
The wine is elegant and full bodied. It has wonderful aromatics of crushed plums, blackberries, and a hint of sweet tobacco. This is followed by a fairly fruit forward wine with abundant tannin that is so well integrated you hardly know it’s there. The tannins are soft and sweet. The finish is long and silky smooth. Clearly this is a wine designed for long term cellaring, yet for some reason, it is drinking wonderfully right now. You can’t go wrong with this wine, whether your goals are immediate hedonistic pleasure, or long term aging.
The wine was equally well received by my wife, who was sharing my glass; another couple who went to the tasting with us; and Chef Luke, the head chef at the Crosby restaurant, who happened to stroll by when the fellow was pouring us this otherworldly vino. A universal thumbs up!
As one would expect, quality like this does not come cheaply. However, it retails for considerably less than other super-premium wines of competitive quality such as Caymus Special Selection, Opus One, and Stag’s Leap Cask 23. Essentially it is priced at about the same level as Beringer Private Reserve, Silver Oak Napa, Robert Mondavi Reserve, and Stag’s Leap Fay Vineyards. In my opinion, the 2002 Flora Springs Hillside Reserve might possibly outscore all seven of these blockbuster wines in a truly blinded taste test. (Sounds like fun, and if any wealthy readers want to sponsor such an event, count me in!!).
If your budget allows indulgences such as super-premium California cabernet, you owe it to yourself to try this wine. If your budget is a little tighter, you might want to consider the standard Flora Springs Napa Cabernet, which is quite lovely, and can be found in the mid 20 dollar range. It is easy to review wines that you received for free at a wine tasting, but the real test is how you vote with your wallet! For the record, my friend and I both ordered a half case each of the regular Flora Springs Napa cab, 2 bottles each of the Flora Springs Wild Boar 2002 Cab (not reviewed here), and for an indulgent splurge, one bottle each of the Rutherford Hillside Reserve. If my budget would have allowed, I would have certainly ordered more.
Flora Springs 2002 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 4.5 stars
Flora Springs 2002 Wild Boar Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 4 stars
Flora Springs 2002 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 3.5 stars
* Prior Wine of the Week Winner!
Region: Napa Valley