- Rating: 94 out of 100
- Tasting Fee: $40
- Accepts Reservations: Yes
- Reservation Required: true
Yountville, CA 94599
I make no effort to hide the fact that Kapcsandy is one of my favorite wineries in the Napa Valley. But I also recognize that most people, including myself, can’t afford to drink a $300 bottle on a weekly basis. Enter Goosecross Cellars. The literal next-door neighbor to Kapcsandy on State Lane Road. I had to stop by for a tasting and see if it compared (and at what fraction of the price). Although it doesn’t have the brand name recognition nor 100 point scores of its neighbor, it does produce wines that improve each year. Once its vines reach maturity, who knows what’ll happen. It’s definitely a place I’ll be keeping my eye on as future vintages come and go.
I fondly remember my tasting at Goosecross. I arrived slightly before their opening at 1000AM, the tasting room manager came out onto the patio to wave me around, and I parked in the back lot as directed. I came in with my laptop bag, we talked about the history of the winery, and he quickly gave the full rundown of the facility. After introductions to everyone and their roles, I went to post up my laptop. Then came an awkward pause where the manager stared at me and I started at him. Apparently, they were expecting an intern to start that day, but had no idea who it was going to be. And because of how I carried myself and the conversations we had, they thought I was that intern. When we realized the mistake, we both broke out laughing. Needless to say, I was flattered. They opened a few extra bottles to taste as an apology. I gladly accepted, haha.
Although the tasting room is on the smaller side, the variety of wines they produce is large. Whether you are looking for a good Chardonnnay, a fantastic, mineral-driven Sauvignon Blanc, a smooth Merlot, a solid Cabernet or an interesting Petit Verdot / Petit Sirah hybrid, I guarantee you will find a bottle you like. When you log into their website, expect on the order of ~15 wines to choose from and around 8 of those to be different varietal wines. As you can tell from my description, I took home the Sauvignon Blanc and hybrid blend because I like wines with personality! But if they weren’t on the menu, I’d have been satisfied with any of the other bottles. It’s amazing considering the entire estate used to be planted to just Chardonnay and that the replanting happened in 2003, which is not that long ago from the vines’ perspective.
As far as style goes, I think they are still discovering that themselves. There is a lively acidity in many of their wines that stands out to me, but as the vines age, I could see that mellow and go in a different direction. The varietal character in the wines is also stong, which I appreciate. And I don’t know if I’d qualify it as their style, but all of the non-Cabernet wines are in the $40-$60 price range which is very affordable by Napa standards. I only hope that those prices do not increase over time as the wines represent a good QPR buy in their current range.
The atmosphere at the winery is also above average. The hospitality is great, the atmosphere is relaxed, and you really get the feeling that this place is a working family winery. It’s one of those places where you want to purchase a bottle and enjoy it on the patio all day long. And if you do enjoy their wines, be sure to load up at the winery. All of their wine are sold directly to consumers, so don’t expect to find bottles at a store anywhere. It’s also likely how they are able to make the prices so reasonable (because distributors and stores aren’t adding markups to the prices), which is good for you and me!
And with a production capacity of 6,000 cases a year, there isn’t much wine to go around, so act quickly if you enjoy your tasting experience at the winery. To give you a sneak preview of what you can expect, see the wine notes below. If you’d like the production details of each wine, they all can be found HERE
- 2018 Sauvignon Blanc ($34)
- They added 1-2% Viognier to take the edge off the acidity. Very aromatic with focused aromas in the ripe green fruit (apples, pears) and stonefruit spectrum (melon, peach) with some white blossom as well. The acidity is rounded off a bit by the 10% concrete egg, making it a high acid wine that doesn’t bite and has interesting minerality. Long finish too with starfruit notes. One of the top QPR Sauvignon Blancs I have had in Napa… Took home a few bottles myself.
- 2017 Viognier ($40)
- From Rogers Vineyard in Oak Knoll. They pick the grapes a bit earlier to avoid that distinct Viognier glycerol from overripe grapes and to preserve acidity. Still, this wine has that classic, ripe Viognier nose consisting of stonefruit and tropical notes, but with medium(+) intensity rather than the traditional pronounced level. The intensity on the palate hits you hard and fast with a finish and lingering acidity that continues for 20+ seconds. The flavors lean toward tropical fruit, mainly lychee, pineapple and vanilla extract. Again, nice minerality thanks to the 20% concrete egg that integrates beautifully with the acidity and alcohol to give you a pleasant, stimulating feel on the finish. Along with Italics, one of the best QPR Viogniers I’ve tasted in Napa.
- GooseCross State Lane Vineyard 2011 ($85)
- Cherry, some unripe green notes (due to the vintage), cocoa, cedar, mint, mulch, and candied cranberry on the nose. The red cherry recedes on the palate, leaving the tertiary notes to dominate with powdery, soft high tannins, and medium(+) acid that lingers on the finish, though the flavors are medium in length. This is not your easy drinking Napa Cabernet; this is your super-second Bordeaux that just missed its optimal ripeness level, but still has all of that complexity. I wonder if the 2011 has complexity that riper years do not or the shortfall of fruit revealed the complexity that exists in all of the vintages, but was just made obvious because the shortfall in fruit ripeness/intensity.
- 2015 GooseCross Merlot ($65)
- Their head winemaker came over from Duckhorn/Paraduxx and brought his expertise with the varietal with him. The 2015 is still a little tight, but give it some time in the glass. Aromas of cherry cola, sweet baking spices, and a little menthol. On the palate, the medium(+) acid and tannin are still a bit tight, indicating this needs a few years in bottle. After a few minutes of coaxing, the deep red fruit (cherry, kirsch, plum), cola, and just a little fresh vegetal notes peek out. But the powder tannins that stick on your teeth through the finish are hard to ignore. Give this 3-5 years to come around.
- 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon State Lane Vineyard ($80)
- Even though it was a hot vintage, this comes in at only 14.5% ABV. The nose is very pretty with its medium(+) intensity ripe cherry, strawberry, vanilla, and toast (50% new French Oak). On the palate, the high intensity notes continue, though the oak notes and alcoholic heat come on a little stronger. This could use time to integrate and settle with its flavor profile but it’s already primed for drinking as the high tannin and medium(+) acid are integrated well with the alcohol and body. This will only continue to improve in bottle and I am excited to see where it goes. A tempting purchase at $80 a bottle.
- 2015 Aeros ($155)
- Left Bank Bordeaux blend in style: 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21.5% Merlot, 14.5% Petit Verdot, and the rest Cabernet Franc. Once the Malbec vines reach the appropriate age, they will start to blend that those grapes as well. This spends 20 months in new French Oak and is the big wine for Napa Lovers. Medium(+) intensity on the nose that doesn’t show as much oak character as the Cabernet and complex, ripe, and juicy aromas. The aromas are enough to water your palate and beg for a sip. Similar to the Cabernet, the acid and tannin need plenty of time to integrate and soften with the body of the wine. The complexity and integration of flavors are already showing well though, reminding you of Thanksgiving pie on the finish. Each varietal balances the other well physiologically too: structure from the Cabernet, mid-palate from the Merlot, a touch of earthiness from the PV, and pretty aromas/flavors from the Cab Franc.
- 2015 Petit Petit ($95)
- Their Petit Sirah and Petit Verdot blend is big and bold on the nose. On the palate, you get all of that brooding red fruit that both are known for, the spiciness of the Petit Sirah, and the earthy character of the Petit Verdot. This is also going to need some time in the bottle to soften up since it is high acid and tannin. Lately, I’ve been enjoying these low visibility varietals (known mostly for blending) and thankfully there are many wineries like Goosecross that is making very nice renditions. Unfortunately, this is the last vintage of this wine since they lost the sourcing contract for one of the components, so I had to walk away with a bottle and give it a proper goodbye.
If you are in the Yountville or Stags Leap area, I recommend stopping by and enjoying yourself if you need a break from high profile tastings. While the quality of the reds stand their ground in their price categories, I think the white wines are some of the best in the $30-$40 range and could justify a case purchase by themselves. That level of minerality, balance with acidity and use of concrete eggs at that pricepoint is unique. And everyone needs good white wines (that aren’t always called Chardonnay) to relax and enjoy the summertime back home. Cheers!
Rating: 94 out of 100