Whether or not you subscribe to the theory that women make better winemakers and therefore better wines, there is no doubt that women have left an indelible mark on the California wine landscape, creating some of the most memorable and highly celebrated wines in the world.
Helen Turley is credited by Robert Parker, Jr. as being one of the first and “greatest” wine making consultants that put California “Cult Wines” on the map at such wineries as Pahlmeyer, Bryant Family, Colgin and Blankiet. (Food and Wine). I would have to put Heidi Barrett in the same category with a proven track record of having made some of the most sought after wines at Screaming Eagle, Grace Family and Dalla Valle.
Others soon followed: Martha McClellan (Sloan), Celia Welch – formerly Masyczek (Scarecrow), Mia Klein (Dalla Valle), Pam Starr (Crocker Starr, Bridesmaid), and Merry Edwards (Merry Edwards Wines), to name a few.
Two Current Napa Cabernets – Side by Side
In a recent tasting by North Coast Wine Brokers we had a chance to taste two Cabernets side by side; the Revana 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon made by Heidi Barrett, and the Hollywood and Vine “2480” 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon made by Celia Welch. It was interesting to see the stylistic differences in the wine, but the tasting left no doubt that these two winemakers are at the top of their game.
Revana Family 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley
Heidi Barrett – Winemaker
Proprietor Dr. Madaiah Revana not only hired one of the best winemakers in Napa Valley, he surrounded her with some of the best in the business, like uber vineyard manager Jim Barbour (Hundred Acre, GTS, Parallel) and assistant winemaker Tom Garrett (Detert Family, Jus Soli). The Revana Family Vineyards are located just north of St. Helena right across Highway 29 from Vineyard 29 and Grace Family.
A hallmark of Heidi Barrett’s wines is their impeccable balance; between power and finesse, structure and elegance, fruit and tannin. The Revana 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits these characteristics and is simply a pleasure to experience.
Deep, dark ruby in color, the 2006 Revana Cabernet Sauvingon offers up captivating aromas of black cherries, black currant, earth and vanilla oak. This med-full bodied Cabernet is luxurious, complex and layered with purity of fruit and silky tannins. Complex, elegant and seamless with a nice minerality on the extremely long finish. ($125)
Heidi Barrett grew up around wine as the daughter of Richard Peterson, who has a distinguished and elaborate history in California wine. Dr. Peterson tells the story of how Heidi would come and hang out in the barrel room with industry guru Andre Tchelistcheff at BV, where Dr. Peterson took over the wine making reigns in the early 1970s.
Barrett was thrust on to the world wine stage when the 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon she made at Screaming Eagle received a 99-point rating from critic Robert Parker, Jr. The Screaming Eagle wines continued to fetch lofty scores in subsequent years including a 100-point rating for the 1997 vintage. Heidi continued producing other star-studded wines for wineries such as Grace Family, Dalla Valle (Maya), Paradigm, Jones Family, among others, as well as her own label, La Sirena. She is without a doubt one of Napa Valley’s brightest stars!
Hollywood & Vine “2480” 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley
Celia Welch (formerly Masyczek) – Winemaker
Actor turned screenwriter and director, Doug Barr moved to the Napa Valley in the 1990s and was inspired to pursue a dream of making world-class wines after finding a manuscript by wine industry icon Maynard Amerine in the home Barr purchased. (You may remember Barr as Lee Major’s sidekick in the TV series The Fall Guy).
After the first couple of vintages beginning with the inaugural 1998, Barr decided to hire Celia (Mazyczek) Welch, who was rapidly climbing the Napa Valley wine scene. The wines have continued to go from strength to strength and developed a very loyal following. Once Cabernet lovers try this wine, they become instant and devout fans.
The first thing you notice about the wine is the massive bottle with its emblazoned, red “2480” on the black bottle. A striking presentation, it is merely a prelude to what’s to follow inside the bottle. The 2006 Hollywood & Vine Cabernet Sauvignon is a compilation of both mountain and valley fruit from some of the top vineyards stretching from the Coombsville region to Mount Veeder and Spring Mountain. Two prominent vineyards included in the wine are Robin Williams’ Pimrae Vineyard on Mount Veeder, and the J.J. Cohn Vineyard, the source for the heralded Scarecrow wines.
The 2006 Hollywood & Vine “2480” Cabernet is super dark and inky in color, leading to enticing aromas of cassis, dark chocolate, licorice and subtle cigar box. Gorgeous black and red fruits coat the palate with flavors of creme de cassis, raspberry, mocha, espresso, spices and minerals. Juicy and luxurious, nicely balanced with good structure. Prominent yet resolved tannins lead to long finish that lingers on and on. The wine should age well for another 10-12 years. ($83)
Celia Welch (formerly Masyczek) has an impressive track record of making distinguished wines for some Napa Valley’s top wineries including Staglin Family, DR Stephens, and Hartwell. Her current clients include Hollywood & Vine, Rocca, Husic, and most notably Scarecrow where Celia received a 98-point rating from Robert Parker, Jr. for the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.