Over the years, I’ve visited hundreds of wineries and tasted thousands of wines, and while I’d never make Robert Parker’s audacious (if potentially also accurate) claim to remember every one of them, there are nevertheless a good number that stand out to me from vintage to vintage. Among them is Silverado’s Geo Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that to me represents the quintessential Napa Valley red wine. Since I first discovered this wine during a visit to the winery years ago, I’ve been fortunate to taste every vintage of it for about the past ten years. Stunningly consistent, undeniably excellent, I look forward to the release of the current vintage every year.
As it is commonly said, great wine making starts in the vineyard. Silverado’s Mt George in Napa’s Coombsville AVA, one of California’s newest AVA designations in some of Napa’s oldest wine growing territory, has been producing extraordinary wine grapes for most of the last century and then some. Silverado produces a broad portfolio of wines made from vinifera, among them some of the more enjoyable Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blancs I’ve ever had. However, great soil and desirable climate–the cornerstones of extraordinary terroir–are only the first part of the process.
The next part of what makes Geo, and many of Silverado’s other wines, special happens in the barrel room. Jon Emmerich has been making the wines at Silverado for more than three decades, and knows every square inch of their vineyards. Not only that, but Silverado Vineyards invests what is necessary into the extraordinary fruit they harvest from Mt George and other vineyards into the requisite French oak barrels. The results are the consistently excellent wines that I’ve mentioned looking forward to each year.
The last thing that makes a wine special, of course, and perhaps the most important thing of all, is what we associate it with. I’ve often heard it said in our industry that “everyone makes great wine” and while one could certainly dispute such a broad claim, it is true that excellent wines from the Napa Valley certainly aren’t scarce. For this reason, I often think what makes me love a wine the most are the memories of which that particular wine reminds me. For many years now, visiting Silverado Vineyards on my regular trips to Napa has become a tradition, and for the past few visits we’ve been lucky to be joined by some very close friends.
Recently, I opened a bottle of 2018 Silverado Geo, and after a two-hour decant, paired it with a dinner of barbecue ribs, wonderful sides, and the friends with whom we’ve made it a tradition of visiting the wonderful winery where this equally wonderful wine is made. The 18-month oak regiment, most of it French and 43% new, along with prolonged skin contact, lends beautiful tannins and impressive body that combine with the powerful black fruit profile and medium to medium plus acidity to create a beautifully balanced wine. Youthful, elegant, this excellent Napa Cab weighs in at 14.7%, is 100% varietal, and has garnered high scores from critics and wine enthusiasts, including this one. The next time you’re in the Napa Valley, I strongly suggest a visit to Silverado Vineyards, and in the meantime, the next time you visit your wine shop I strongly suggest picking up a bottle of Geo, giving it a good decant, and making some memories of your own.