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Monday, September 12, 2016

Drink American Luxury: Judge Palmer Keeps America on Top! Judge Palmer 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard Rutherford, Napa Valley Earns Whom You Know's Highest Recommendation

The most laudable wine brand we've discovered in 2016 worldwide is without a doubt Judge Palmer.  We only publish on the best we experience.  We don't just love them because of their American heritage: we love them because of their unparalleled commitment to excellence in high-level wine production.
Previously on Whom You Know, Judge Palmer has been featured:
We don't take the time to write four posts on one brand in their inaugural review for just anyone.  
You should think of this post as their home run; Palmer and Michael have hit one out of the park in a big way.  And that's no BS.  
Judge Palmer 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard Rutherford, Napa Valley has earned our Highest Recommendation and it is the best wine Peachy has sipped this year, and that includes everything she's also tried at a restaurant.
On a personal palate level, Peachy Deegan prefers a robust red and finds it an essential dinner component; in many cases she has found Italian wine to be better than American, but absolutely not in the case of Judge Palmer.  The extraordinary depth, the pristine finish and the superb body of the Judge Palmer 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard Rutherford, Napa Valley is in a word, celebratory.  

The Cabernet Sauvignon is simply sensational! It has an interesting contrast of strong flavors with a unexpectedly light mouth-feel. It’s quite drinkable! The flavor is intensely fruit-forward with the sweetness well-balanced by the typical tannins of this varietal. A distinct coffee note comes through at the finish, and this kind of wine production makes Made in California the envy of the world!

Coming from a Heritage vineyard, this 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Judge Palmer carries a distinct pedigree. The Beckstoffer Vineyards boast a provenance dating from 1895. Carried on by Beaulieu vineyards, this parcel produced grapes sourced for Cabernet Sauvignons made by Andre Tchelistcheff , seminal figure in California wine making. Purchased by Beckstoffer in 1988, and now protected by a land conservation easement, this parcel remains sacred ground in the wine industry. The wine itself is a gorgeous purple, opulent and multi-dimensional. Meant to be enjoyed for the next 20 years, this one is keeper. If there are any bottles left at your local vintner, buy them up. Cellar them, or keep them as special gifts for phenomenal people. Fruity, with so many layers to ponder, this wine will delight wine lovers the world over.

Judge Palmer Cabernet Sauvignon is a fantastic wine that has ripe aromas with a proper texture. It boasts laudable acidity, keeping the fruit lifted and juicy. On the palate, the wine was with no surprise firm and very well balanced: rich and spicy.  
At this time the defense rest. To summarize, I just would like you know that the evidence is overwhelming: Judger Palmer wine should be in everyone’s wine cellar. I can tell you now it will be in mine permanently.

2012 Judge Palmer Cabernet Sauvignon

Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard

Rutherford, Napa Valley

Vineyard: One of the most famous plots of land in all of Napa, the Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard is located on the valley floor in Rutherford between Conn Creek Road and Silverado Trail. The well-draining, gravelly loam soils from the former creek bed combine with ideal sun exposure to yield wines with richness, fruit intensity and structure. This wine is sourced from the B1a and B2b blocks of the vineyard, planted in 1992 to Cabernet clone 7.

Vintage: From the beginning 2012 was destined to be an epic vintage, as textbook spring conditions produced steady flowering and an ideal fruit set. Clear warm days and cool nights continued on an uninterrupted stretch throughout the summer and early fall, allowing for optimal ripeness and flavor development. We let all of our Cabernet lots hang late into October, when we harvested just before the light rains that finally crashed the party towards the end of the month.

Winemaking: The two vineyard blocks were de-stemmed separately into open-top tanks for brief cold soaks before fermentation began spontaneously with wild yeast. Fermentation continued without the addition of any chemicals or enzymes, aided only by a bit of heat and occasional pump-overs. After pressing the wine went into French oak barrels – 75% of which were new – aged for 24 months, and was racked only once, immediately prior to bottling.

Judge Palmer Wine Co. was founded by friends and winemakers Palmer Emmitt and Michael Scorsone. About twelve years ago, Palmer and Michael were introduced through a mutual friend. At this time Michael had been making wine in Napa Valley for several years – after initially graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and working as a chef, he fell in love with wine and moved to Napa Valley to pursue winemaking. Palmer was a wine lover who was working in the film industry in Los Angeles, and meeting Michael and learning more about the winemaking process from him spurred his interest in wine from hobby to obsession and later profession. Palmer took classes at night to become certified as a sommelier and then a few years later moved to wine country to earn his MBA in Wine Business from Sonoma State University.

Upon moving to wine country, Palmer reconnected with Michael and the two began collaborating on the project that would become Judge Palmer. Through Michael’s industry contacts they were able to purchase Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the premier grape grower in Napa Valley – Andy Beckstoffer – and one of his most prestigious sites, the Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard, for their first vintage in 2011. In subsequent years, additional vineyard sites in Alexander Valley and Knights Valley, both in Sonoma County, were added so that they could produce Sauvignon Blanc and Malbec wines equaling the quality of the Napa Cabernet.

When it came time to bottle the first wines and name the brand, Michael and Palmer mulled over many possible names but settled on one that combined their deep connection with family and their philosophy on winemaking. Palmer’s grandfather James Palmer had for many years served as a judge in Placerville, California (aka Hangtown, a historic gold rush site), and when Palmer said the words “Judge Palmer” out loud, they looked at each other and knew they had found the name. In addition to the familial inspiration, the brand name and imagery evoke the parallel between the judge’s role in a courtroom and how Michael and Palmer approach winemaking – natural, authentic, transparent and with minimal intervention.

After the first few years of toiling away in the cellar and waiting for the first barrels to mature, the business officially launched in 2015 with the opening of their winery in Healdsburg, California and the release of their first wines. In the short period of time since then, they have grown their wine club substantially and secured distribution in Texas, Florida and Tennessee, with several more states to be added in the coming months. Their current annual production is about 1500 cases, up from just 200 in their first vintage 2011, and they hope to grow to 3000 or so in the coming years – staying small enough to remain true to their vision of small-lot artisan winemaking from uniquely distinct single vineyard sites and maintaining a personal connection to each bottle of wine and each customer.

Palmer and Michael now also produce wine under a second label called “Domenica Amato” named for Michael’s grandmother who was born in Sicily and emigrated to the US from Italy in 1966 along with Michael’s father and grandfather. The Domenica Amato wines are made in extremely small quantities and are sold only to members of the Emmitt-Scorsone Wine Club. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the cool climate Sonoma Coast are the main focus for these wines, but the label also allows Michael and Palmer room to experiment with varieties and styles that are apart from the norm. They are meant to be enjoyed with your loved ones around the Sunday dinner table.

Judge Palmer brand motto from back label:

The duty of a judge is to maintain order and ensure that justice is done while remaining fair and impartial. We feel that the role of the winemaker should be the same – an expert yet unbiased observer who allows the vineyard, varietal, and vintage to testify for themselves in the finished wine. Try a bottle with a jury of your peers.

Judge Palmer Mission Statement:
We believe there's a lot of bullshit in the world of wine these days. Our approach is to be honest and straightforward in the way we make our wines and deal with all of our customers and partners – just the way my grandfather the small town judge would've done it.

So you won't find us name-dropping, boasting, embellishing or obfuscating. You might find us pontificating, because we are deeply passionate about our work and feel there is something special about artisan winemaking that can't be accurately described in only a few words.

Our Bordeaux varietal wines come from both sides of the Napa-Sonoma border, featuring vineyards with unique character owned by people that share our values. We try to let each wine be what it wants to be, expressing the virtues of each site without letting our own stylistic bias interfere.

We encourage you to break from the herd mentality, eschew the latest trends, and taste our wines with an open mind – you be the judge. We think the honesty and passion with which we make them will shine through and resonate.

Try a bottle with a jury of your peers.
Palmer Emmitt & Michael Scorsone

Owners - Winemakers - Cellar Rats

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