After half a century of working in this industry, it's remarkable to run across an operation I've never heard of that's been around even longer than I have. The vineyard was planted by Lewis Gibbs Carpenter, a farmer and - get this - psychologist from Gilroy who went to St. Helena in the 1950s.
It wasn't until the 1990s that Lewis's son-in-law, Craig Handly, began making wines from the family vineyard. Craig and his wife Susan, joined by their son Spencer, started out having fun making wine and probably didn't want to mess things up by trying to make a profit.
However, the call of fame is too much to ignore sometimes, even if it takes a few decades to come to grips with. In this case, it was close to 50 years. And when they decided to go commercial, their experience was light years ahead of any "new" winery. After all, the vineyards were 40-50 years old and they'd been making wine for 10 years and counting.
The result is a purely perfect, sublime and delicious Napa Valley red. This is a blend of mostly Merlot with a splash or two of Cabernet Franc and just a hint of Syrah and Petit Verdot, aged in 100% French oak.
The flavors are so luscious and commanding that they seem to dare you to swallow them. The expansive, but feminine, nose allows a steady stream of black plum, pomegranate and cranberry to escape, inhabiting every bit of space available in the room and beyond.