Wine Tasting Notes, 2008: Piña Cellars

pinaI made an impromptu visit to Piña Cellars yesterday, and I tasted a couple of their current Cabernet releases. All in all, the winery produces four different bottlings of single-vineyard Cabernets, with a fifth bottling on the way for the 2006 campaign. All five of the Piña vineyards are located along the eastern portion of the Napa Valley, with properties occupying four of Napa’s sub-appellations, including Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford and Howell Mountain (Piña’s fifth vineyard is planted at the base of Atlas Peak, but is not within the strict boundaries of that appellation).

The first wine I tasted was the 2005 D’Adamo Vineyard Cabernet, which is only Piña’s second vintage from this nine-acre property. Harvested from the rolling foothills of Atlas Peak, the D’Adamo was emblematic of many lower-valley Cabernets, trading on elegance more than intensity. A product of relatively cool Napa climates, the 2005 D’Adamo Cabernet exhibited tremendous balance, and was both soft and layered. I often get the sense that the wines from the Atlas Peak area are frequently overlooked — the 2005 D’Adamo Cabernet presents a compelling reason to explore this region further.

While the 2005 D’Adamo represented Piña’s southernmost vineyard, the second wine — the 2005 Buckeye Cabernet — represented the family’s northernmost interest. Full-bodied, with almost a smoky black cherry aroma, the Buckeye Cab was typical of the Howell Mountain appellation in almost every way. The Piña family has been producing wine from the six-acre Buckeye patch since the 2000 vintage, and the wine shows a bit more concentration than the D’Adamo bottling. Still, the finesse of the D’Adamo proved more appealling to my tastes (and much to my surprise). It was the wine I revisited, and ultimately, the one I took home.

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