Varozza Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena 2009: Inky purple-black color; deep blackberry, dark cherry, plum nose; plum, black cherry, blackberry, chocolate, licorice, earth on the palate;
firm structure, assertive and delicious tannins, bold dark fruits, oak; classic big Napa cab from St. Helena, an epicenter of excellence in the wine world. This is superb wine. It tastes better and is huge bargain against the big-name Napas that now coast on reputation and wildly over-produce; only 100 cases of this beauty were made, compared to the thousands of Stag’s Leap and Silver Oak offerings. This is what they were before they became commodity top-shelf strumpets.
Varozza is Napa Valley soul. One hundred years of winemaking, five generations, calluses on hands, mud on boots, lovers of land and vines. Varozza is 38 stunning acres of family-farmed acres that include some of Napa’s oldest cabernet sauvignon vines. Dry farmed before there was a California water crisis. Sustainably managed before that was the Next Big Thing.
Varozza once received advice to pull out their ancient vines because of the reduced production of grapes. No. Ancient vines deliver unparalleled concentration and elegance—taste this to enjoy what that means. Varozza describes the vines accurately: “The berries are the size of a blueberry, at best. The skins are thick and tough, and loaded with color and tannin. The flavor they produce lends toward a rustic, earth driven wine with undercurrents of very black fruit. The tannins are incredibly well structured, but integrate into the wine with such finesse you would think it was made of silk.” I can’t add or subtract from that description.
Plays extremely well with sharp, aged cheddar cheese. It could go well with steaks and red meats, but why pile on flavors. Like many Napa cabs, this is meal unto itself. Some flatbread, some cheddar, maybe slices of prosciutto or salami and you have a complete experience. Gorgeous wine, drink it reverently. $65-80
Second photo: Varozza’s gnarly old vines