“Odette is a fabled princess… a mistress…a judge…a heroine. Odette is both of antiquity and modernity. You will find her in works of fiction and tales from history. Odette encapsulates our inspiration for this property – femininity, strength and power.”
How’s that for an introduction? In this case we’re introducing a new vinous endeavor from Napa Valley’s famed Stags Leap District. Odette is the sister winery of PlumpJack and CADE, founded in Oakville and Howell Mountain respectively by the dynamic trio of Gavin Newsom, Gordon Getty and John Conover. Like its sisters, the name for the project was inspired by Shakespeare, however, Odette was also the name of a French judge from the 1976 Judgment of Paris, an event which rocked the wine world. This legendary blind tasting pitted French against American wine and was judged by some of the most respected palates on the planet; however, in a stunning defeat for the French, a red wine from California’s Stags Leap District took first place, officially putting California wine on the map (Bottle Shock is a great film about this historic event). Comprised of 45 acres, Odette is a new addition to this historic appellation and is dedicated to producing full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon which represent the region’s unique terroir.
2012 marks the inaugural vintage of Odette and winemaker Jeff Owens is off to a smashing start with the new label. His 2012 Odette Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve was extremely well received, garnering a perfect score of 100 points from esteemed wine critic Robert Parker, the first winemaker to do so in his inaugural vintage. Owens was originally poised for a career in landscape architecture but became smitten with wine, graduating as a member of Cal Poly’s first class in Wine & Viticulture. After completing an internship at Cakebread, he made the move to the smaller, boutique PlumpJack winery where he began as a cellar worker. Owens rose quickly through the ranks and became assistant winemaker at PlumpJack in 2008, and then made the move to CADE in 2010 where he remained until being tapped for the Head Winemaking position at Odette in 2012.
The land for Odette was purchased from the Steltzner family who established their eponymous winery in the Stags Leap District in 1965. The family sold 49 acres to the PlumpJack group while retaining 30 acres on which they will continue to make their own wine. The Stags Leap American Viticultural Area (AVA) is the first in the United States to be approved based on the uniqueness of its soils, which include both loam and clay sediments from the Napa River, as well as volcanic soils from eruptions which took place millions of years ago. These soils are coarse and retain little water, which produce fruit of great intensity and flavor. The Odette team takes their role as “stewards of the land” very seriously and is currently building a LEED Certified winery on the property while also pursuing a rigorous, organic certification for its estate vineyards.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting the affable (and young!) Owens and tasting through the Odette wines at Ft. Lauderdale’s Capital Grille. We began with Odette’s second tier of wines, Adaptation, which consists of a Chardonnay, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon made from fruit sourced from the Napa Valley:
The 2013 Adaptation Chardonnay ($32) was pleasantly crisp and refreshing, the result of being fermented and aged primarily in stainless steel – no oak monster here! This wine had delightful notes of white flowers, green apple, and pear complemented by a food friendly acidity and dry finish making it an excellent pairing for the Crab & Lobster Burger.
The 2012 Adaptation Petite Sirah ($36) exhibited this grape’s hallmark, inky purple hue which had my wine glass looking like a stained glass window. Heady aromas of black fruit and spice followed through on the palate with mouth-filling flavors of juicy blackberry, ripe plum, and baking spices. Appreciable tannins and a lengthy finish made this wine a perfect match for the Grille’s juicy Signature Cheeseburger.
The 2012 Adaptation Cabernet Sauvignon ($46) is a “celebration” of classic Napa Cabernet which was aged in 50% new French oak and 50% used for 20 months. The result is a full-bodied red with aromas of bright red fruit, vanilla and spice while on the palate, red currant, cranberry, mocha and smoky oak predominate. Chewy tannins and a lively acidity make this wine an excellent partner for grilled meats such as the Filet Mignon with Cipollini Onions and Wild Mushrooms.
Our final wine of the flight was the 2012 Odette Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($98), a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc from one of Napa’s most acclaimed vintages. This wine had an opaque, purple hue and fragrant aromas of black fruit, cassis and spice. On the palate, this full-bodied beauty revealed layers of black cherry, raspberry, violet, and licorice while tannin and acid struck an elegant balance which persisted through the lengthy finish.
The Adaptation and Odette wines provide wonderful representations of their respective grape varieties as seen through the unique prism of California terroir. I hope you enjoy experiencing them and next time you’re in wine country, be sure to stop in for a visit!
5998 Silverado Trail, Napa
Telephone: (707) 224-7533