Vineyard 7 and 8: Simple Name, Complex Wine
By Jim Clarke
have been popping up in the Spring Mountain District AVA
in northern Napa for many years: the first documented plantings
were in 1874. The springs themselves help illustrate why
it’s a good area for wine grapes; the water is emerging
from deep under volcanic soils with little fertility but
good drainage, conditions which force the vines to dig deep
for water and nutrients. That’s the kind of push vines
need to create wines with intense flavor and richness.
The producer Vineyard 7 and 8 is a
newcomer to the area, but the vineyards themselves were
replanted (after a post-Prohibition period of neglect) in
the mid-80s, giving the vines time to mature and dig in.
Owners Launny Steffens and Steven Grover bought the property
just a few years ago and set their sights high, aiming to
make world-class Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from
the grapes growing on their new property.
Their winemaking team knew well what
the demands of a world-class wine could be. Christian LeSommer
worked for Chateau Latour and Chateau Yquem for many years,
while Larry Langbehn comes to the project with local experience
at a number of California wineries, including Freemark Abbey.
The soil composition of Vineyard 7 and 8 changes every 50
or 60 feet, so LeSommer and Langbehn have their hands full
balancing the varied character of these different blocks;
on the plus side, however, this brings added complexity
to the wines.
7 is devoted to Cabernet Sauvignon; restrained (by cult
Cab standards) in alcohol and sporting food-friendly acidity,
it features layers of dark fruits, chocolate, roast coffee,
and a pleasing earthiness. The tannins are firm but not
obtrusive, and the wine should age well for over a decade.
8 is all Chardonnay; if 7 looks to Bordeaux, 8 turns to
Burgundy for its inspiration. While it does show some of
those tropical fruit aromas typical to California Chardonnay,
the minerality, lively acidity, and smoky, clove-touched
notes from oak-aging speak with a French accent.