Tasting the 2008 Rocca wines

11 years ago by Tim

We tasted, and were very impressed by, the 2008 wines from Rocca Family Vineyards in Yountville.

The 2008 Vespera is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Petite Verdot, 14% Merlot and 8% Syrah. Rocca calls this their "most up-front, friendly, warm-and-cozy wine", and this was definitely the case. On the nose, lots of dark chocolate and dark black & blue fruit - think berries, plums and boysenberry. The oak is very prominent on the palate, though there's still a core of big jammy fruit there. Overall, it's a rounder, softer wine with well-integrated tannins and clearly intended to drink now.

The 2008 Merlot is 100% Merlot from their estate Grigsby Vineyard. This is decidedly gamier and earthier than the Vespera, with more cigar and tobacco notes along with red fruit, black cherry and cola. Clean and focused, the mouth feel is more linear than round. There's a distinct elegance and classiness to the wine, which is especially impressive as this wine clocks in at 15.1% alcohol. It would be phenomenal with a charred steak. Wine Spectator gave this a 91 and said it was a "bit tight" in 2011 - but it's definitely drinking well now and should continue to evolve for a couple of years.

Finally, the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the same Grigsby Vineyard. Aged 20 months in French Oak (80% new), this is a voluptuous, big, sexy wine. Ruby red in color, this Cab has a beautiful nose of plum and rhubarb with slight green notes. It's a very plush wine - soft, but with depth and complexity. More breadth than the Merlot, and richer and fuller than either the Vespera or the Merlot. Granted, that's to be expected since this is the priciest of the three wines - but this really is a pretty awesome wine.

Overall, we were very impressed with all three wines. In particular, there was an elegance and restraint (particularly with the Merlot and Cabernet) that I did not expect given the AVA and relatively high alcohol levels. I thought the Cabernet was excellent, but the Merlot is great buy for the price as well.

The winery sells the Vespera and the Merlot at $45 each, and the Cabernet Sauvignon for $75. If you're in Pennsylvania, I've seen a few bottles of the 2008 Merlot floating around for $39.99.

Please note: these wines were provided by Rocca Family Vineyards for purposes of review. You can see our Samples Policy here.

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