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Napa claims elegant 2008 vintage despite ‘crazy’ growing season

The 2008 vintage in the Napa Valley looks set to produce ‘elegant’ wines despite a ‘crazy weather year’, according to the region’s trade body.

Although the growing season saw widespread frost damage and challenging summer conditions, Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), a non-profit organisation representing 330 wineries in the appellation, said that 2008 would produce ‘well-structured, concentrated, elegant wines’.

The NVV, however, admitted that the weather conditions had reduced yields and that 2008 was a ‘lighter-than-average’ vintage. Some winemakers in the Howell Mountain district in north-eastern Napa reported losses of 30% following the early frosts.

The NVV said the winegrowers had ‘met the challenges of a crazy weather year’, but that a relatively cool summer, interspersed with heat spikes, added to the initial problems.

‘What a rollercoaster ride,’ said Kristin Belair, winemaker at Honig Vineyard in Rutherford. ‘It took three weeks to bring in the first third of our Sauvignon Blanc.’

Michael Weis, winemaker at Groth in Oakville, said the unusual weather patterns had ‘wreaked havoc with some varieties’ but that an Indian summer had saved the vintage.

‘Through all of this, the wines are quite lovely,’ he added.

At Staglin Family Vineyards, more known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, owner Garen Staglin highlighted this year’s white wines:

‘White wines are the big story for 2008 in the Napa Valley,’ he said. ‘Phenomenal structure – very exciting.’

The cool growing season also produced some ‘outstanding’ sparkling wines, said Rick Aldine at Domaine Chandon in Carneros.

Also in Carneros, Saintsbury winemaker Jerome Cherry said the vintage was characterised by its ‘high acidity and good maturity’.

Written by Oliver Styles

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