Diving into Napa Valley

I’ve been trying more and more American wine lately and last week I opened a bottle of 2009 Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Below are my tasting notes for it.

The vineyards of Rutherford Ranch are located along the Silverado Trail route in Napa Valley. The winery is part of Rutherford Wine Company, which owns a total of seven wineries. Rutherford Wine Company produced dozens of wines – varietals, blends, expensive, inexpensive, white, red, rosé, . . . you name it.  This, however, allows them to export wines to Europe and Rutherford Wine Company wines can often be found in German wine stores. More on the availably of the American wine in Germany later.

Tasting Notes

The 2009 Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 3% Syrah and 1% Zinfandel. After the fermentation the wine aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels. The label indicated ABV was 13.5%.

2009 Rutherford Ranch - Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa ValleyThe wine was opened roughly one hour before drinking it.

In the glass there was a deep ruby red color with garnet hues. The nose was fruit-forward, moderately intense but also a bit too alcohol-dominated for my taste. There was a heavy aroma of blueberries, some raspberries, a  bit of cinnamon, a little bit of viola and caramel. Medium body on the palate with lots of black fruit and a hint of cocoa. Mellow tannins, low acidity and of good balance. Alcohol was not a problem in the mouth. Lingering aftertaste. This wine is very food friendly and goes well with a variety of dishes.


This is one of those wines that will appeal to many but the QPR could have been slightly better. A bottle of 2009 Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon retails in Munich for €16.80. Rutherford Wine Company sells the current vintage (2012) for $24 in its online shop.

Parting Words

This was a solid bottle of Cabernet and maybe the word “mainstream” describes the wine best. I will continue my endeavour into American wines but the availably is still rather limited. I find this rather strange in such a globalised world that we all live in. A few big labels from California, Washington and Oregon – that’s it. A few months ago, I tasted a great Chardonnay from the Finger Lakes but I had to order it over the Internet because the wine was not available in any of the many wine stores here in Munich.

One could argue that Europeans don’t “need” American wine, given the wide selection of wines we produce but wine from overseas (America/New Zealand/Australia) can taste quite different than the wines we make here. I hope that in the near future more overseas wine will become available here but for that to happen the demand for overseas wine would have to increase and I’m not sure if that will happen any time soon.

What’s your opinion on Rutherford Ranch/Rutherford Wine Company wines? Let me know in the comment section below.

I will leave you with a short reminder that there won’t be a new edition of the wine quiz this week. So you can still participate if you want, just follow this link. The theme is Aosta Valley.



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