Double Gold Medals for Kelleher Family Wines!


When I received the news that the Kelleher Family 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, “Block 21” and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon both won Gold medals at the American Fine Wine Competition my first thought was; it’s about time, what took them so long!

From my first taste of the Kelleher wines was at the Family Winemakers Tasting at Fort Mason in San Francisco over 7 years ago when we were starting Prime Cellar and looking for wineries to represent; I knew right away we had stumbled on to something very special.

Family Winemakers is a huge event with over a hundred wineries, there is no way you can taste everything in one day, so I decided to taste wineries the wines that I was not familiar with. So we were indeed a bit lucky to meet Valerie Kelleher sitting behind her two wines. At the end of this long day of tasting the Kelleher wines were rated at the top of our list and we rushed up to the Napa Valley to hopefully sign her up for PrimeCellar, which thankfully we were able to accomplish.

At my full-time job as Senior Wine Specialist and Bordeaux Expert at K&L Wine Merchants I taste hundreds of Sauvignon Blancs and Cabernet Sauvignon blends here in California and in France. This includes the worlds finest; for Sauvignon Blanc this means Ch. Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion $999.99 and $699.99 respectively for their 2013’s, Domaine de Chevalier, Pape Clement, Smith Haut Lafitte and Pavillion Blanc from Ch. Margaux. For the reds it means all the Firsts Growths estates of Bordeaux, every classified growth as well as the famous Right Bank estates the likes of Petrus, Ausone, Angelus, Vieux Chateau Certan and Pavie. The reason I mention this is that the Kelleher wines not only compete and stand up to these wines when it comes to quality level, but cost hundreds of dollars less!

Becoming famous does not always happen overnight and as I tasted Valerie’s wines over the last few years I wondered how could these fly under the radar and not get tremendous press! Well that has finally changed; it is richly deserved and is long overdue.

The perfect place to taste the magic of Valerie’s boutique wines is at her fantastic Brix Restaurant on Highway 29 in Oakville where you can look right at the beautiful vegetable gardens and Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard; the bounties of both that will appear on your plate and in your glass. Valerie works closely with talented winemaker Craig Becker who has been a huge part of this success from the very beginning starting in 2004.

The 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (470 cases produced) features bright tropical aromas with hints of white flowers, citrus flavors of lemon and lime and racy acidity invigorate the palate, nice middle texture and a precise-focused finish. No grassy or herbal notes to this wine, just pure fruit! I am a huge fan of this wine and so is Craig Becker, when working in Hong Kong the first thing he always says when he walks into a tasting is “where is my Sauvignon Blanc?”! Craig and I usually empty quite a few glasses. Try it with the Caramelized Sea Scallops or the Wood Grilled Salmon.

The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (415 cases produced) is textbook Oakville Cabernet, deep, silky and rich! No need to cellar this wine, it drinks like love right now. Enticing flavors raspberries, blackberry and chocolate swirl around the nose and in the mouth, all in perfect harmony, just lovely! Pair this beauty with the Grilled Colorado Lamb Loin Chops or the Grilled Snake River Farms Wagyu Beef Skirt Steak.

Be sure to stop in at Brix on your next trip to the Napa Valley and taste these award winning wines.

Cheers and Happy Spring to everyone!

Ralph Sands

Prime Cellar Consultant

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