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To all Wine Exchangers,

In 1880, William Keyes, a geologist, came to Napa Valley and discovered what he felt was a remarkable area on Howell Mountain with the perfect soils for wine. The soils reminded him of those on Lipari Island, a volcanic archipelago off the coast of Sicily.   That became in inspiration for the name “Liparita” (‘little’ Lipari).’  The winery was one of the first to offer vineyard designated wines and achieved success until history got in the way.  The combination of Prohibition and then phylloxera took a toll on many wineries, including Liparita.

With the rebirth of the Napa Valley as a winemaking destination at the end of the 1900s the Liparita label reappeared and thrived.  Then history reared its ugly head again.  In an article published in Wine Spectator in 2003 titled “California Winery Woes: From Boom to Bankruptcy” then owner Bob Burrows assessed his, and no doubt a number of other vintners troubles.  "I had anticipated that Napa Valley Cabernet would remain unsullied in every market," Burrows said.  Burrow’s story was a cautionary tale.  He conceded that he grew the brand too quickly and locked himself into too many expensive long-term grape contracts. Restaurant sales went south, and he turned to "alternative distribution sources" such as Costco to thin out his stock of 1998 and 2000 reds . He did not produce anything in 2003.

In 2006, Spencer Hoopes purchased the Liparita brand, determined to bring it back to life.  He is selling the ‘history’ of the place, with the heading on his website, Liparita, since 1880.  OK may the ghost winery building has been around that long, but there were some, uh, ‘gaps’ in the production of wine under the label.  None of this reflects on the current ownership.  They are ardent in their desire to create a new face for Liparita as a source for elite designation-specific wines.  But sometimes it is harder to revive and old brand than to create a new one.

They are putting excellent juice in the bottle under the guidance of winemaker Josh Widaman, whose resume includes stints at Pahlmeyer, Chimney Rock, and Lewis Cellars (where he made the Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2013 that was Spectator’s Wine of the Year in 2016).  They are doing all the right things in the bottle, as evidenced by this serious and ‘spot-on’ portrayal of the Atlas Peak growing area.  That is precisely what designated bottlings are supposed to.  But some of the bent of history, like those Costco dumpings of years past, can have an affect on perception (at least that’s what the Napa elite continuously tell us).  Long story short, it might take a while for folks to consider paying those big time Napa Cab prices.
In the meantime, the winery has to sell wine, in this case with the added psychological stigma of the fires that accompanied the harvest in 2017 (for the record, these grapes were harvested before the fires).   Working the back channels, we were presented 2017 Liparita Cabernets from three different appellations and our intrepid panel, plus our resident ‘Cab Guy,’ took to the task.  This was the pick of a very fine litter and, even though there were four of us, there was no need for a ‘tie-breaker’.  Everyone was on the same page!
The Liparita Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak 2017 comes from the same vineyard block that is the source for Stag’s Leap Artemis. The vineyard is planted in an amphitheater-like setting at an 1800 foot elevation.  The vineyard is situated above the fog line, and the altitude provides cooler daytime temperatures and warmer nighttimes.   In a world where production can be 7-10 tons per acre (there is no ‘AOC’ limit on production that we are aware of) the volume here is a modest three pounds per vine.  The steep, rocky and well-drained soils are also a part of the yield equation, and the fully ripened grapes show great structure and concentration, true mountain fruit that showcases the distinctive dusty minerality for which this appellation is renowned
The minerality runs through the dark red and black Cabernet fruit (it’s 100% Cab) and the juice sees nine months in 100% new French oak which gives it notes of chocolate and a refined, trophy-esque sheen.  In other words, this is serious Napa Cabernet.  If it sounds like $70-80 Napa Cab, that is in fact what it is.  The current quirks of the marketplace, and maybe the label’s star-crossed ‘back story’, have made that kind of price a reality for another day.  Meanwhile they needed to move some really tasty, high end wine and, as always, we’re here to help by rolling it out for much less than premium Napa Cab is supposed to sell for.  (pricing pitch).  Who doesn’t love a great deal? Good hunting.
 

 

Liparita Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak 2017
The Cabernet comes from the same Block that is set aside for Stag’s Leap Artemis. The high altitude (1,800 feet) means cooler daytime temperatures and a sunny haven above the fog line during the growing season. Heat inversion also means warmer nighttime temperatures.  The steep, rocky and well-drained soils result into low yields (three pounds) per vine, but the fully ripened grapes show great structure with concentrated fruit, and focused and persistent flavors. Tannins are ripe, balanced, and integrated.
ONLY $64.98

$29.98 at final checkout!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CONTACT INFO
1544 East Warner Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92705, USA
PHONE: 1-800-769-4639  

FAX: 714-979-1520

 

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