by Fred McMillin
for December 17, 1997

An Oakville Thrill

Prologue:

Jan. 4,1873—Charles Menefee hitched up his horse and buggy and took one of the trails out of Napa City. The owner of the "Napa Reporter" newspaper wanted to see one of the valley's new vintners, Ohioan Henry Walker Crabb, more or less the founder of the new village of Oakville. As to the size of his vineyard, Crabb departed from the Napa practice of reporting the number of vines; they were so abundant he instead just said he had 70 acres, which before long would grow to 360 acres. Two points of particular interest were, a) he planted CABERNET SAUVIGNON in what would become one of the great Cab districts of America, and b) he would later write that, "Any fine wine desired to be kept for aging should never be abused by passing it through a FILTER."

... Sources: William Heintz (1990) and Frona Wait (1889)

The Rest of the Story: Robert Mondavi knew a good role model when he saw one. He bought the original Crabb Oakville vineyards some 30 years ago. He produced marvelous CABERNET SAUVIGNON from the land...and of all things, his Oakville Cabs are UNFILTERED!

The Wine:
My 14 tasters spotted it in a blind tasting...huge black blackberry flavors and a finish that's forever. It's the first Cab they've rated EXCELLENT in our fall series.

1992 Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville District, Napa Valley
Robert Mondavi Winery
7801 St. Helena Hwy., Oakville,CA
The wine is UNFILTERED.
Contact—Nancy Light, (707)259-9463
Food Affinities—Beef, chocolate desserts, cheese plate
Price—$28 range

Postscript: Construction Note—Henry Crabb insulated his 1872 winery by pouring sawdust between its two wooden walls... which may explain its destruction later...BY AN ARSONIST!


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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