Havens Winery Oakville Meritage 2011
Some wine offerings are particularly compelling and this is one of those very special opportunities. We always enjoyed Havens wines which has a very rich Napa Valley tradition. And the greatest Reds in Napa Valley are from the Oakville appellation including Cardinale, Nickel & Nickel, Ghost Block, Plumpjack, Silver Oak, Opus One and of course Screaming Eagle. And the winemaker is Aaron Pott, of Seven Stones and Blackbird fame! He is formerly the head winemaker at Napa’s St. Clement and the winemaker for the famous St. Emillion Grand Cru Classe- Chateau La Tour Figeac. Aaron’s resume and reputation is one of the best in the industry. He also consults for Quintessa and the Stagecoach Vineyard.
By Jonathan H. Newman*
Havens Oakville Napa Valley 2011 Meritage
UNIT SIZE: 750.00 ml
VARIETAL: Red Blend
GRAPE: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cab Franc
COUNTRY: United States
REGION: Oakville, Napa Valley
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 14.10%
This wine is from two nice vineyards in Napa’s Oakville appellation. The Money Road Vineyard is owned by the Laird Family and is located in the ideal sweet spot for Napa Valley’s best big red vineyards. It is located very close to Plumpjack, Screaming Eagle, Rudd, Dalla Valle and Opus One. The OVX Vineyard is right down the road and is renowned for its iron enriched clay loam soils and a cooling influence from afternoon bay breezes. This wine was made by Aaron Pott, who is working hard to take Havens to the next level as an elite winery. It is comprised of mainly Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc. It spent 18 months in French Oak, 40% of which was new. A deep ruby red hue with flashes of purple. Suave dark red fruit on the nose including crème de cassis, cherries, black raspberry and roses. The fruit is smooth and layered with dark chocolate covered cherries, blueberries, red plum, and vanilla oak with touches of boysenberry, olive and cinnamon. Enjoy with Filet Mignon, grilled shish kebobs, Yankee Pot Roast, or with Red Velvet cake. Only 770 cases were produced.
By Havens Winery
2011 Meritage Oakville, Napa Valley
Harvest Date: October 17-25, 2011
TA: 6.1 g/L
Fermentation: Stainless steel
Barrel Aging: 18 months in French Oak (40% new)
Blend: 89% Merlot 8% Cabernet Sauvignon 3% Cabernet Franc
Appellation: Oakville AVA, Napa Valley
The Vineyard and Winemaking
The grapes for the 2011 Havens Meritage Oakville came from two sites: Money Road Ranch & 575 ovx. The Money Road parcel is a 40-acre vineyard located in the heart of the AVA, with very deep soil, stratified with layers of sandy loam clay and gravelly alluvium that drains well. The daily temperature variance (up to 35 degrees) is the largest in the valley and creates an ideal balance of fruit acids and sugar ripeness in the grapes, which translates into a balanced and well-structured wine. Although the 575 ovx vineyard is only minutes away, the change in elevation and soil type creates a different essence entirely. The mineral rich andesite rock is fractured just enough for iron enriched clay loam to have silted into the cracks. The south western facing slope opens 575 ovx up to a cool afternoon bay breeze. A minerality and earthiness found in the wines speaks to the complex nature of the soil and ideal growing conditions. The grapes were whole-cluster crushed and fermented in stainless steel for 15 days. We blended the vineyard lots in early 2012 and transferred the wine to French oak barrels (40% new) for aging. The wine was then aged in barrel for approximately 18 months prior to bottling in December 2013.
The 2011 vintage kicked off with significant rainfall in February and March and very cool temperatures, which persisted through spring and summer. The cooler weather delayed flowering and rains hampered a good fruit set, reducing yields while low summer temperatures slowed down the ripening that usually accelerates during late July and August. Picking started quite late, in October, and proceeded slowly. Considerable rainfall in mid-October increased disease pressures and forced many wineries to pick earlier than they would have preferred. Overall, 2011 crop yields were down 25%.
The 2011 Havens Meritage is an elegant mélange of cassis, cherry, and mocha in the nose. These inviting aromas combine as flavors on the palate, creating well balanced flavors of damson plum and red berries, enhanced by rich, earthy notes of black olive and dried herb. The texture is elegant and the fruit expands with warmth and gentleness, buttressed by toasty oak notes that complement the flavors with intriguing char and vanilla, rounding out the tannins and leading to a long balanced finish.
[Info provided by J.H.N.]
Napa Valley: Aaron Pott
Aaron Pott is trying to take Napa Cabernet back to its roots. “I think I’m looking for what existed in Napa before the late ’90s,” he says. “All these artificially concentrated, super fruity wines are a bit boring.” He’s fulfilling this goal with wines like his 2009 Pott Wines Her Majesty’s Secret Service ($110), a profound single-vineyard red that’s equal parts power and finesse (also true of the wines he makes for star properties like Blackbird and Seven Stones). Pott’s influences are far ranging - he has managed Bordeaux châteaus and made wines all over the world - but his true inspiration is his home turf. “I’ve tasted so many great, older Napa wines, and I always wonder, Why aren’t we making these wines anymore?”
*Jonathan Newman was Wine Enthusiasts’ Man of the Year. He also was Chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, and received national recognition in Marvin Shanken’s Market Watch Magazine and many other international wine publications. He was also awarded the Guild of Sommeliers highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Newman's reviews have been published and quoted extensively online and in print. He travels extensively to many of the major wine growing regions and evaluates many of the wines we source from smaller and boutique wineries. We interact closely with him and the result is his rejection rate of over 96% of the wines evaluated.