Cafaro Cellars2002 Syrah
No, the best thing about this Napa Valley Syrah is not the price (which is as good as it gets from this AVA), nor is it the fact that the wine shows its place of origin. The best thing about this wine, which is as close to Châteaneuf-du-Pape as one can get from a wine coming from California, is that its winemaker is as near as you can get to being as true a wine terroirist as one comes across in North America.
Interestingly, however Joe Cafaro (see “Winemaker’s Winemaker,” in the feature section of AppellationAmerica.com), who has had stints at Krug, Chappellet, Keenan, Acacia, Sinskey, Jaeger, Oakville Ranch, Dalla Valle, Graeser, Lewis and Emilio’s Terrace, is a man without a more site-specific place to call home.
His 15-acre vineyard sits on a rise that looks down on the Stags Leap District vineyard that the Shafer winery uses for its own “Relentless” Syrah. The parcel’s northern property line is the southern boundary of Stags Leap, and is within eyeshot of the Oak Knoll AVA. Consequently, Carfaro’s piece is classified as being in the greater Napa Valley AVA. But sometimes I get the feeling that Cafaro, 59, would thrive even more within his own officially classified appellation.
Nonetheless this Syrah, his third, is showing warm intensity with opulent fruit with spot-on balance. It’s got deep wild cherry and black fruit flavors and will do well over the next 10 years.
The wine, blended with 2 percent Petit Verdot, spent 10 months in 50 percent French and 50 percent American barrels, with 25 percent overall being new. Alas, there were only 364 cases produced. But at 18 bucks, I wish I had the available shekels to buy up what’s left, which would be right.
Reviewed June 7, 2006 by Alan Goldfarb.
Alan Goldfarb has been writing about and reviewing wine for 17 years. His reviews have been published in the St. Helena Star, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Examiner, Decanter, and Wine Enthusiast, among others. Not once has he used a point system, star system, or an iconic symbol to quantify a wine. What counts in Mr. Goldfarb’s criteria when judging a wine is: how it tastes in the glass; is it well-constructed; its food compatibility; and presence of redeeming regional attributes.