Calla Lily Estate is located in Pope Valley. Pope is just on the other side of Howell Mountain. This is an area under the radar yet some excellent wines come from this area. The Calla Lily Estate rests at 800 foot elevation which is higher than the Napa Valley floor and cooler. The grapes produced on the estate “are smaller, intensely-flavored and finely structured tannins…” according to Cary Gott, winemaker for Calla Lily Estate. Cary Gott is a fourth generation winemaker in California who has cultivated his craft working with more than 20 wineries.
The owners of Calla Lily Estate are Anthony Fung and Andy Chui, two Hong Kong based entrepreneurs who purchased the land in 2013. It was the former Budge Brown Winery.
The calla lily was chosen as the symbol for their project because in China calla lilies are considered the flower of elegance, beauty and purity. The artwork on the label was done by an artist in the Hebei province of China and given to the winery’s owners.
I had never had this wine before last evening and was curious as I have had a few wines from Pope Valley. The Calla Lily symbolically could not have described the wine much better. First this wine is a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot and 4% Malbec which all comes from the estate vineyards. The barrels used were in 40% new French oak and aged 22 months. Only 1,032 cases were produced and the website shows availability at $65. This is a flat out steal!
The wine characteristics were a deep royal purple in coloring and medium heavy viscosity. The aromas were very pronounced with red and black fruits, a strong bouquet not found in many Cabernet Sauvignons. On the palate is where this wine became a phenomenal success. The first thing that you recognize is raspberry and cherry counterbalanced by sweet pipe tobacco with vanilla and mocha flavors. The finish was mid length and enjoyable until it faded. Now the surprise kicker: while the calla lily represents “elegance, beauty and purity” the expectation of a smooth and mild Cabernet Sauvignon would naturally be in store. Actually it produced (to my liking) strong with edgy tannins, layers and layers of structure which made it a fabulous “chewy Cabernet”. This is definitely a pleasant and surprising wine!!
The Food & Wine Pairing
Paired with a penne pasta and homemade Bolognese sauce simmered for 6 hours. Accompanied with steamed broccoli. The spicy and flavorful sauce using diced pancetta, chopped onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme, Italian seasoned ground pork sausage, ground beef, red wine, bay leaves, tomato puree and other items contrasted and embraced the 2016 Calla Lily Estate Cabernet Sauvignon perfectly. Garnished with fresh Romano cheese. The spicy Italian sausage along with the others flavors and tomato was exactly what was needed with this wine. After dinner, as the wine continued to open up it proved not only to “be deliciously chewy”, it also by itself provided the “elegance and beauty” of a solid Cabernet Sauvignon. This for $65 just made my Best Wines of Year list which comes out in December of each year.