Running for Parliament: Oakland Wine Festival’s Silverado Vineyards Tasting

Last week’s tasting at Oakland event space Parliament had all the elements of a great evening: an eager crowd, wines from Silverado Vineyards, a well-known Napa name with a distinguished pedigree; and Melody Fuller: Oakland native, wine, food, and travel writer, and the organizer of Oakland Wine Festival.

Although I didn’t literally have to run to this event, a less than geographically astute Uber driver oakland wine festival signdid mean that what should have been a quick journey and an early arrival, wound up being a nail-biter. But I shouldn’t have worried. I arrived with a few minutes to spare: time enough to appreciate the decor and meet Russ Weis, Silverado’s General Manager, before the evening got under way.

Russ led the group in tasting six of Silverado’s benchmark red wines. I have to confess here that despite many trips to Napa, this was my first tasting of the wines. And they were well worth the wait. Among others, we were treated to Solo, sourced from Silverado’s Stags Leap vineyard and available by mailing list only, along with a debut varietal Cabernet Sauvignon so new, the bottles hadn’t been labeled. We also got a bit of background on Silverado’s history.

The tasting concluded, we moved on to a charity raffle — the proceeds benefit St. Mary’s College High School’s Cameron Fuller-Holloway Memorial Fun Fund — food, and mingling. Just another night in Oakland’s eclectic and diverse wine scene. The evening was like a rich stew that only served to further whet my appetite for the main event.

The wines:

2011 Estate Bordeaux Blend

The product of five different vineyards, and crafted from the five grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec) permitted in Bordeaux reds. The nose is expressive, with aromas of spice box, tobacco leaves, tea, dark berries, currants and light earth. Full-bodied and brimming with richly concentrated ripe fruit flavors, this builds in intensity through the finish. Lead pencil, black berries, sweet spice, and savory herbs mesh well with an ample frame.

2012 Oakville Station Cabernet Sauvignon

100% Cabernet, from a vineyard vinified block by block. Wet earth and dusty talc on the nose; intense, with concentrated almost jammy black fruit.

2012 Mount George Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

This bottling hadn’t even been labeled yet, and is Silverado’s debut Cabernet bottling from its Mt. George Vineyard. Powerful and intense, with coffee grounds, black fruit flavors and an almost chewy texture, this is still tightly coiled and needs time to open up.

Silverado Wines2011 Stags Leap  Cabernet Sauvignon Solo

Made from heritage clones that are the product of massal selection, this was elegant and well-balanced, with licorice flavors.

2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Limited

Dusty notes of wet earth along with menthol and black licorice, scent the nose. The full-flavored and silken-textured palate features concentrated and ripe, verging on sweet, fruit while licorice flavors carry through to a lengthy finish. This is a stunner!

2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Limited

Oakland wine festivalThe nose displays toasty spice and leather notes, while the palate is rich and concentrated: showcasing earth, toasted oak, black cherry and other juicy dark berry fruits. This is lip-smacking and vibrant, with great intensity, and a savory mushroom note in the background.

The tasting was part of a series of kickoff events in the run up to the Oakland Wine Festival, which takes place in July.