From the Robb Cellar

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Although the Davies family launched its Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon with the 2001 vintage, the wine has a long history. The grapes used to make this robust Napa Valley red are harvested from three vineyard blocks that were planted by some of the region’s pioneers. Two of these parcels were among Napa’s first hillside vineyards, and they were first tilled in 1862, the year Jacob Schram, a Ger­man immigrant, and his wife, Annie, founded Schramsberg winery. Fifteen years later, Schram sold a 40-acre parcel to Collin McEachran, who planted his first vines in 1878. Jack Davies and his wife, Jamie, acquired Schramsberg in 1965, and under their direction the winery gained its reputation as a premier producer of sparkling wines made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; yet the two vineyards originally established by Schram were far better suited to Bor­deaux varietals—as was the McEachran acreage, which the couple brought back into the Schramsberg fold in 1985. The character of these historic sites is evident in the first sip of J. Davies 2007 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvi­gnon, whose sensual texture is matched by the silkiness of its tannins. Aromas of bramble, blackberry, and sweet smoke precede a palate loaded with wild berries, chocolate, cigar box, and vanilla bean. ($75)

Building one’s legacy in an industry in which one’s surname is also a leading brand might be regarded by some as redundant. But for Karen Cakebread, former daughter-in-law of Cakebread Cellars founder Jack Cake­bread, creating her own label was a way to honor another branch of her family and pursue her entrepreneurial dreams. Ziata is an abbreviation of Annunziata, her great-grandmother’s name and her mother’s middle name, yet the wines reflect Karen’s tastes. She, together with winemaker Anne Vawter, produces her two favorite varietals: Sau­vignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. The Ziata 2008 Pinot Noir Car­neros is the inaugural vintage of this supple red. The palate shows perfectly balanced acids and tannins beneath layers of raspberry, nutmeg, clove, and crème brûlée. ($42)

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