Napa on a sunny day in the spring is lovely, but even on a cold, wet fall day, visiting Napa is like spending time with the three graces, daughters of Zeus, Splendor, Mirth and Joy. Although it is part of the new world of wine, Napa is well enough established that is has its own iconic wineries the kind that demand a sense of homage when visiting. These are the wineries that put Napa and for that matter California on the wine world map, the wineries that participated in the Judgment of Paris in 1976 and the rematch in 1986.
Clos du Val was established in 1972 and is located in the Stags Leap region, though it has vineyards in Carneros and Yountville as well with three estate vineyards that it refers to as ‘the three graces.’ With 330 acres, many of Clos du Val’s wines remain small production, with less than 500 cases.
In 1976, Clos du Val’s Cabernet Sauvignon came in 8th in the Judgment of Paris. In the 1986 rematch, their Cab came in 1st.
The 2013 Carneros Estate Chardonnay is made from a Dijon clone and aged in 25% new oak with partial malolactic fermentation. Both the vanilla from the oak and the creamy mouthfeel from the malolactic fermentation are subtle and well-integrated. There is no sur lie aging on this elegant, balanced Chardonnay with ripe orchard fruit aromas. It is a very graceful wine.
The 2012 Petit Verdot is 100% PV aged in 20% new oak. It has acidity plus and loads of beautiful black fruit aromas. It is a rich and structured wine.
The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from State Lane estate is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. It is earthy with aromas of herbs, bramble fruit and grippy tannins. It spent 2 years in oak, 30% new.
The Three Graces is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot. The tannins are silky, the aromas are both black and red fruit.
The 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon has aromas of dried fruit, red and black fruit, chocolate and wood all smoothly integrated into a richly textured wine.
Zeus’s daughters, Splendor, Mirth and Joy are very present at Clos du Val. And their wines are very graceful.