Blue and black fruit, licorice, cloves, leather and mint meld together nicely in the glass. The 2011 is juicy, expressive and absolutely delicious. The mid-weight style holds considerable near term appeal.
Behrens & Hitchcock was established in 1993 when Les Behrens and Lisa Drinkward, a couple who had opened Northern California restaurant a few years earlier, bought a few tons of grapes with the idea of making their own wine. They were soon joined by Bob and Lily Hitchcock who managed the financial end of the winemaking process. Behrens & Hitchcock, located in St. Helena, quickly earned a reputation for full-throttled wines that pleased critics and collectors. However, the last vintage to bear the Behrens & Hitchcock name was 2005. When the Hitchcocks retired that year Les and Lisa bought out the retirees out and changed the name of the winery to Erna Schein Handcrafted Wines. Since 2006 all wines have been made under the Erna Schein label. The name is a dedication to Les Behrens’ mother. Robert M. Parker Jr. has written that Behrens and Drinkward “have a remarkable knack … for assembling striking blends with innovative names.”
Napa Valley AVA is the most famous winemaking region in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. With nearly 43,000 acres of vineyards and more than 300 wineries, it is the heart of fine wine production in the United States. Winemaking started in Napa in 1838 when George C. Yount planted grapes and began producing wine commercially. Other winemaking pioneers followed in the late 19th century, including the founders of Charles Krug, Schramsberg, Inglenook and Beaulieu Vineyards. An infestation of phylloxera, an insect that attacks vine roots, and the onset of Prohibition nearly wiped out the nascent Napa wine industry in the early 20th century. But by the late 1950s and early 1960s Robert Mondavi and other visionaries were producing quality wines easily distinguishable from the mass-produced jug wines made in California’s Central Valley. Napa Valley’s AVA was established in 1983, and today there are 16 sub-appellations within the Napa Valley AVA. Many grapes grow well in Napa’s Mediterranean climate, but the region is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay is also very successfully cultivated, and about 30% of the AVA’s acreage is planted to white grapes, with the majority of those grapes being Chardonnay,