Stéphane Derenoncourt and Montesquieu CEO Fonda Hopkins, Ink Grade

Today marked the beginning of the 16th Annual Premiere Napa Valley Auction, which is one of the most exciting events of the year in Napa, where the most influential members of the wine industry from all over the country and the globe—including vintners, retailers, brokers, distributors, media and restaurant owners—gather to experience the very best and most innovative wines from our country’s leading appellation. It is a whirlwind weekend of events, starting with seminars and tastings, and culminating in the grand finale—a barrel tasting and live auction on Saturday February 25 at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena.

In previous years, we have been fortunate to be one of the auction’s most active bidders—however this year is special. We are not only attending the seminars, tastings and auction, but unveiling our first-ever lot—A Tale of Two Terroirs by Stéphane Derenoncourt—5 cases of 2010 Derenoncourt California Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain.

When searching for the perfect mountain terroir for his flagship single-vineyard wines, Stéphane fell in love with two plots – the wild, mountaintop terroir of Ink Grade, facing the sunrise, standing guard over Pope Valley; and the rocky, complex soils of Las Posadas, basking in the sunset’s rays, bidding Napa Valley good night.

For Derenoncourt California normally Stéphane focuses on single-vineyard or single-varietal wines, however he has blended these two plots to show the result of combining such divergent profiles—each with totally different terroir—that he knew would combine to create something spectacular. It is a magical combination —the earlier harvested Ink Grade with gorgeous well-developed mountain fruit from 20 year old vines and the later harvested, dynamic fruit from the densely planted vines of Las Posadas.

Ink Grade high atop Howell Mountain

Our winemaker Hélène Mingot, who works side-by side with Stéphane for both Derenoncourt California wines and many Montesquieu wines, shares how much she enjoyed this creation coming together. “Ink Grade and Las Posadas have some things in common—they are both high-elevation sites with volcanic soils, dramatic terroir and intense fruit. But really they are two totally different worlds. And to see how these two profiles came together to create a whole new experience was amazing. And you know, Stéphane’s very first blend was the one we loved the most, just perfect. Even after many trials of other percentages, it was the first one that we fell in love with. That’s Stéphane, his experience and instincts.”

Even with decades of experience between them, Stéphane and Hélène marvel at the adventure of creating such unique wines. A Tale of Two Terroirs represents Howell Mountain’s adventurous spirit that stirs the soul as well as the palate, and highlights Stéphane’s mastery of translating this spirit in its truest form. We are thrilled to be presenting our lot not only for the barrel tasting on Saturday, but also for a VIP invitation-only private tasting at Chateau Boswell on Friday February 24, where select members of the trade, including media, will attend.

Saturday February 25 will begin with Hélène pouring our 2010 Tale of Two Terroirs Cabernet Sauvignon in the Greystone barrel room for a sold out crowd of wine trade all-stars, followed by lunch prepared by the staff and students of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) which will be paired with some of Napa’s top wines, including our 2007 Derenoncourt California Coombsville Cabernet Franc in magnum. Then everyone will head into the auction room for the fast-paced and high-energy live auction of the wines previewed earlier in the barrel room.

While Hélène is pouring, our team including Montesquieu wine brokers will be there tasting all the other unique blends on hand, to make sure we bring home the most exciting and innovative lots. As lot winners from previous years, we have privileged early access to the barrel tasting to get a jump on the 200 featured wines!

In 2011 we were thrilled to acquire rarities such as the 2009 Levy & McClellan Cabernet Franc by winemakers Bob Levy (Harlan) and his wife Martha McClellan (Sloan and Blankiet), and the 2009 J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon by star winemaker Celia Welch, who is also winemaker for the record-breaking 2009 Scarecrow Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2010 we were delighted to place the winning bids for the captivating 2008 Judd’s Hill/Salvestrin/Schweiger Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2008 Sterling “Three Palms Vineyard” Cabernet Franc that stole our hearts.

Live auction standing room only last year, this year is also sold out

Since 1997, Napa’s top winemakers have offered ultra-boutique wines to the trade at Napa Valley Vintners Premiere Napa Valley, created in as few as five case lots (like our Tale of Two Terroirs) and never more than 20 case lots, as individual bottlings. These wines are offered as futures at auction only, consisting of truly one-of-a-kind wines not available in the marketplace—except by those that attend the auction and place the winning bids!

Who will be the single successful bidder of our entire five case lot A Tale of Two Terroirs? Which top lots will capture our hearts? Stay tuned to our social media on facebook, Twitter and here on our Montesquieu Wine Lovers Blog, as we will be sharing all the exciting results!

We are privileged to be among the ‘elite of the elite’ winemakers for Premiere Napa Valley 2012 and look forward to sharing our 2010 Derenoncourt California Cabernet Sauvignon Tale of Two Terroirs with our wine trade colleagues.

Cheers from all of us at Montesquieu Winery, have a wonderful weekend!


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