On our recent trip, the fourth winery visited was YoungInglewood Winery in lower St Helena in Napa Valley. Traveling down an unassuming lane resides grandeur on an immense scale, not showy but with substance. We enjoyed the time discussing and sipping some exceptional wines. First here is a quick background on the winery.
This small winery is best-known for their Cabernet Sauvignon and “Bordeaux blends”, as they are situated on historic vineyard land in St. Helena, California. However, they also have a passion for several white wines like Chardonnay, Vin Clair and a rare Aligote that is oak aged. One of the most enjoyable aspects of visiting YoungInglewood Winery is not just the tasting of exquisite wines, but partaking in intelligent, purposed and thoughtful discussion of wine with the owners, winemaker and staff.
To begin, Jim and Jacky met while in college and shared a passion/drive with wine. Jim and Jacky Young bought a historic piece of land in southern St Helena and have today all five Bordeaux varietals planted. It is truly a family winery with Jim handling the operations and Jacky and son Scott, being the co-winemakers on property. Their daughter, Mary helps in the operations as well as providing an occasional flute recital. Their Wine Education Director/Membership Director, a longtime friend Mark Simon is always there to help out in various capacities.
Their time spent in Europe cultivated a real sense of old world wines and that is exactly how they construct both their red and white wines. They like to describe themselves as presenting “old world non-interventionist” winemaking techniques. It surely shows in their incredible wines.
I seldom talk about wine labels but theirs is the exception. The label is one of the simplest yet says so much about their wine with the balancing of the tightrope walker. This is a paradigm for balance in the fruit, tannins, acidity and color. A little too much of any one item, and a misstep happens. Even deeper is their aspiring sense of balance in life, starting in the vineyards with organic and sustainable practices.
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We were greeted with a glass 2019 Vin Clair made from Malbec and Merlot. Cold pressed with a short skin contact so almost a “white wine”. An extremely dry elegant and aromatic wine with strawberry and orange blossom notes. This acidic wine provides a tart and minerality on the finish. Refreshing on warm afternoon while sitting outside. 200 cases were produced. The current release is the 2021 vintage and only 40 cases produced and it is listed at $40/bottle.
When then moved to the tasting room adorned with beautiful pieces of art. The next wine tasted was the 2019 Napa Valley Chardonnay from the Linda Vista Vineyard. This was aged in 1/3 new oak, 1/3 neutral oak and 1/3 stainless steel. A light golden color, with aromas of lemon custard. Followed by an almond and creaminess in the palate. Just what was needed on this warm day with temperatures in the high 80’s. Only 58 cases produced and is listed at $75/bottle.
The last white wine setting the stage for the upcoming reds was a little known Aligoté which was their 2020 vintage. A luscious yellow, almost golden color with aromas of peaches and pear greet the olfactory senses. It is a “big white wine”! Again toasted nuts and lemon were present on the finish. 66 estate cases produced and goes for $60/bottle.
Now the transition to YoungInglewood reds, my personal favorites!! Started off with the 2018 Right Bank Blend. This is a mouth-filling wine with 42% Cabernet Franc, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec. Dark richness greets the eyes and followed by a symphony of flavors of boysenberries, blackberries and raspberries. The underlying structure and layers begs renewed sips of enjoyment. Again only a small 140 cases produced and sells for $110/bottle. This is surely a blend not to taken as a compromise or an averaging of various blends. Strong with characteristics fitting only one of the best “Bordeaux style blends”.
The last wine enjoyed was the 2018 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. This consisted of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% of Merlot. Such a deep cavernous wine of immense proportions. Boysenberry with chocolate infused espresso made this a voluminous sipping wine. Strong but rounded tannins make this a classical Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. $150/bottle and only 200 cases produced.
A bonus wine was served their 2018 Cabernet Franc. An unbelievable 100% Cabernet Franc farmed from their estate of Cabernet Franc vineyard. A dark lush ruby coloring with heavy viscosity, with aromas of Rose petals and floral notes. In the palate, raspberries and chocolate open up to some mouthwatering finish. Smooth and silky best describe the wine in the mouth. Absence was the pyrazine characteristic, but this is still a sought after bottle of wine. It hit my bullseye for Cabernet Franc and I targeting the cellar with my purchase to gracefully age another 3-4 years. $125/bottle and only 47 cases produced.
What a great way to provide a quick overview of some of the quality wines of Napa Valley for our friends. I have one additional story, our 2nd stop and that will be out in the next couple of days.