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Napa valley in a glass with chief winemaker at beaulieu vineyard, trevor durling

Beaulieu Vineyard - Rutherford, California

BCV Architecture + Interiors had the honor to experience Napa Valley in a glass courtesy of ​ Trevor Durling, the Chief Winemaker of the world-renowned Beaulieu Vineyard.

Trevor presented a dynamic and educational virtual wine tasting where we were able to travel back in time all the way to 1938. ​ This is the year when the Beaulieu Vineyard Founder George de Latour welcomed André Tchelistcheff in his splendid 1925 Cadillac Imperial Touring Car.

Arriving in San Francisco, California straight from France Mr. Tchelistcheff began to reshape California winemaking and redefined the style of Cabernet Sauvignon. The “Dean of American Winemakers”, as he was called by wine industry pioneers, became America's most influential post-prohibition winemaker. He demonstrated the superiority of small-oak-barrel aging, delineated and perfected methodologies for malolactic fermentation and revolutionized white winemaking through the process of cold fermentation, which he helped develop.

In the winery’s 119-year history, and following in Mr. Tchelistcheff legacy of innovation, Trevor Durling, a native Californian raised in Sonoma County became the fifth winemaker at Beaulieu Vineyard in 2016. Since then Trevor has been working alongside a dedicated team covering all aspects of the winemaking, from the vineyards to the final bottling and continuing to create some of the world’s finest wines.

On July 30th, 2020 at the BCV virtual wine tasting hosted in Rutherford California, Trevor introduced us and talked about the BV 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. He explained in detail how each Napa Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) was reflected and the characteristics of each grape varietal used by Beaulieu Vineyard. ​

This was a fascinating lesson for all of us!

The majority of this wine comes from the BV estate vineyards from Yountville, and a significant portion from Oakville, plus a splash from Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga. It is a blend from several microclimates within the Napa Valley AVA

The Yountville AVA climate has a Maritime influence and is slightly cooler than Rutherford, offering a nice acidity in the grapes from the region.

Oakville AVA is moderately warm but not as warm as Rutherford, you get a little bit more of that acid retention in each grape which is really important. The BV primary Estate Vineyard in Oakville is on the eastern side of Silverado Trail and that really tends to hold into its acidity. It brings ripening layers, offering the brightness, and the red fruit characteristics, with black cherry notes.

The Rutherford AVA you will get a characteristic called “Rutherford Dust”. Rutherford dust is a sensory term that a Sommelier looks for when trying to identify a Cabernet Sauvignon coming from this region. This term was created by André Tchelistcheff. Back in the 1960’s he was famously quoted saying: “In order to truly make an iconic Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley it takes a lot of Rutherford Dust”. What he was talking about was the soil, the microclimate, the terroir from Rutherford itself, the physical dirt, very special and very different from many other wine growing regions even around the Napa Valley.

The way Trevor describes this term is: “on the nose” is more of a textural term, so there is a hearty aroma with floral mushroom, dirt wet forest, mixed with dark fruit. “On the palate” is this cocoa powder texture and flavor with a ripe fruit profile that is really prevalent on the mid palate to the finished palate. This is very distinct to Cabernet Sauvignon in the Rutherford AVA.

The St. Helena's AVA’s warm climate and terroir is ideal for ripe tannins.

The “silver bullet” in this wine category comes from the Calistoga AVA, the warmest AVA in the valley. Adding a dip of Petite Sirah with very small concentrated berries with a lot of tannin and a lot of power.

There is an element that Trevor calls “Rum Raisin” which is like plum, where you get candy aromas mixed a little bit with molasses. Sweetness is not something that you can technically smell but is certainly something that you can taste. You can associate certain compounds with sweet flavors, so there is a kind of a candied fruit character that comes through aromatically. It offers the flavors of cassis, a little bit of black cherry, and licorice, with many different layers. ​ These compose the ripe expression of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Although Petite Sirah is not commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, it can be but with just a small measure of Petite Sirah tends to add a wonderful viscosity to the wine and this is something that differentiates the BV 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to great effect.

For all of you wine aficionados, Beaulieu Vineyard is releasing their 2017 George de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ​ with a virtual homecoming special on Saturday October 17th at 3:30pm. For more information on how to join Trevor Durling in this fantastic virtual event, please contact Beaulieu Vineyard on the link below! This event is not to be missed! ​

The BCV team would like to express our gratitude to Trevor Durling and Beaulieu Vineyard. We learned so much from you and are looking forward to learning more at our next Beaulieu Vineyard tasting.

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