Yorkville Cellars Six Noble Reds
What comes to mind when you think of the word “noble?” Perhaps you’re thinking kings, queens, and all things royalty. It may be less likely that the word “noble” made you think of grapes, but in our world, that’s exactly where our minds go.
The world of wine offers its own version of royalty, and Yorkville Cellars is home to said royalty. For the past 25 years, we have been growing grapes and making wine from all six of the noble reds that originate from the highly acclaimed Bordeaux region of France. These six grape varietals include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Carménère. We are one of the only wineries outside of France that produce ALL SIX of the Bordeaux red grapes, so it’s only fair that we give you a little rundown on each of these noble reds and what makes ours so special.
Now, before we dive in, it’s important to note that some Bordeaux grapes are typically used to create blends. It’s not often that these grapes are used to produce single varietal wines, but we believe in the uniqueness of these grapes and the terroir that they are grown in, so we do just that. It has allowed us to produce wines that truly capture the essence of the grapes.
So, without further adieu… Introducing the Noble Reds of Yorkville Cellars:
First on our list is Cabernet Franc, or in royal terms, the King of the noble reds. This grape is often seen as the “other” Cabernet but comes first in the Cabernet family lineage. It is parent to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Although similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, it buds out slightly earlier in the spring and also tolerates cooler growing conditions. This varietal is characterized by its food-friendliness and versatility. It is a highly aromatic wine with rich fruit flavors and continues to be a favorite among our wine club members. Our 2016 vintage is blended with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon to give it structure, but not too much that it masks the delightful flavors of the Cabernet Franc. Our favorite dish to pair with Cab Franc is roast pork with caramelized onions and garlic mashed potatoes. Yum!
Moving down the noble lineage brings us to our Prince, the Cabernet Sauvignon. It is believed that sometime around the 17th century in Bordeaux, France, a natural cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc occurred when the vines first propagated. Some see Cabernet as the awkward kid who eventually grows up to be attractive and refined. It’s the most famous red grape in the world now, so this Prince definitely made a name for himself. It produces consistently robust and structured wines, with the ability to age gracefully. Our 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon presents flavors of delicious black cherries and holds a Gold Medal from the S.F. Chronicle Wine Competition. Pair this wine with beef-based dishes and strong cheeses for a delicious and complementary experience.
The most approachable of the royal family is Merlot. A true Princess in nature, this grape is known for being soft, ripe and elegant. Merlot adds softness and luscious fruit when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, and is also wonderful to enjoy on its own. The name Merlot is perhaps derived from merle, French for blackbird, as the birds love the sweet, plump berries. Newbies to the wine drinking world are often advised to start with Merlot because of its fruit-forward flavors. We have wonderful terroir to grow Merlot, as well as the hot days and cooler nights that it needs to reach its true potential. Our 2015 vintage is secretly everyone’s favorite, and in good sibling rivalry fashion, Merlot decided to one-up Prince Cab with a Double Gold Medal from the S.F Chronicle Wine Competition.
If you’re looking for something with more of a fighting spirit, meet Malbec, our Knight in shining armor. As with all of the Noble Reds, Malbec was born in Bordeaux, France but the roots were easily susceptible to rot and didn’t fare as well in France’s climate. Instead of dying out, though, it put up a good fight and has steadily grown in popularity. It is most popular in Argentina where it has become their signature grape. It is known for its dark fruit flavors and smoky finish. It’s also referred to as the “Black Wine” because of its intensely deep color. Ultimately, it is a wine of great structure with rich-fruit quality. We love Malbec so much that we have produced 21 consecutive vintages of the Rennie Vineyard Malbec. Our 2015 vintage is a nicely matured wine perfect for steak night and is “Highly Recommended” by Tastings.com.
Petit Verdot closely translates to “little green one,” and as the saying goes, “though it be but little, it is fierce.” Since it is not quite as popular or widely produced as the other Noble Reds, we’ll call this fierce grape the Marquess of the noble bunch. These grapes can be difficult to properly ripen, yet plantings of Petit Verdot are on the rise because the grapes produce bold flavors that can add a layer of mystery and depth to Bordeaux style blends. It is typically added to only 10% of most wine blends. But in true Yorkville Cellars fashion, we decided to produce it as a single varietal wine and continue to be one of the few wineries in California to do so. Our 2015 vintage received two silver medals and is “Highly Recommended” by Tasting.com.
The last of the Noble Reds is the Carménère varietal. This would be a situation where the second cousin twice removed pops up out of nowhere and swears they have royal blood somewhere in their lineage. Basically, it was thought to be extinct in France but then found new life in the hills of Chile. It is an extremely rare grape that has seductive dark chocolate aromas with undertones of pepper and earth. It is said to produce wines that resemble the blends of Bordeaux, all from a single grape. Our 2015 vintage is also “Highly Recommended” by Tasting.com. We are proud to be one of only a couple California wineries that offer the delightful Carménère wine varietal.
As we bid you adieu…
We hope that when you think of nobility, you think of this complex family tree of grapes, full of rich history and uniqueness. The terroir of Yorkville Cellars in Mendocino County has made a nice home for this noble family, and we’d love for you to come by and taste our lineup of these six noble reds. You can even choose a reserve tasting that involves a playful blind tasting game of “Name That Varietal”!