October 2001

The Big News 1999 Merlot

Twelve years ago we initiated a plan which comes to completion today, to create the “jewel in the crown” – Casa Nuestra Estate Bottled Merlot.  In the year 1989, the first of our Merlot plantings went into the ground, replacing the Napa Gamay vineyard that had been there since 1965.  For several harvests, as the vineyard matured, we sold the production to Burgess Cellars, making only small experimental lots of Merlot here at the Casa.  In 1999 all the pieces were in place.  With Shay Boswell on board to nurse every step, we began the process.  The weather favored our undertaking and the labor intensive efforts to maximize quality in the vineyard rewarded us with a storybook harvest.  The fruit was of quality unequaled in our decades of experience – almost too good to crush!  We aged the entire lot in small, new, French oak barrels using wood from two different forests.  Trials in the winery revealed that the magic could be enhanced by slight additions of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.  I doubt that any commercial lot of wine has received the personal attention Shay lavished on the vintage.  The wine is out of this world - even more than we had hoped for.  It is a big wine, with the softness and subtle complexity of Merlot together with the strength and structure associated with the best Cabernets.  It is a pleasure to drink now, but it promises to astonish when it reaches its full maturity in the cellar.  Don’t miss it (424 cases produced.  $38/$456 case)

A New Chapter – Casa Nuestra Bordeaux Series

Today we announce a new chapter in the history of Casa Nuestra, the introduction of a line of premium Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Meritage.  To celebrate this milestone event, we have created a new design for the label.  Seeking to project the core values of Casa Nuestra, we chose three elements:  the serenity of a starry night, the love and personal connection carved as a heart in the tree, and a light in the window for stability and a sense of place.  The black and white rendering printed here does little justice to the effect created by the true colors:  six shades of blue, green, and ochre.  Like the wine itself, facsimiles are a very poor substitute.  Our introduction of the Bordeaux series is a milestone, the culmination of our effort for the past two decades and an appropriate way to commence the 21st century.  We hope that you will enjoy this most ambitious of Casa Nuestra undertakings and that you will find the new offerings nobly advance those elements you have valued, enjoyed, and supported at Casa Nuestra for more than 20 years.

The New Releases – by Shay Boswell

1999 Napa Valley, Estate Merlot – This is not your run-of-the-mill, short order Merlot!  This 100% Estate wine has deep colors and big black fruit aromas.  It will easily intimidate any Cabernet Sauvignon at the dinner table.  With the addition of 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, it has as much longevity in the cellar as any traditional Bordeaux.  We produced 424 cases.  ($38 tle/$456 case)

1999 Napa Valley Meritage – The name “Meritage” marries the words “merit and heritage”.  Keeping that in mind we selected our favorite barrels of Merlot (50%), Cabernet Franc (25%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (25%) and carefully blended them to make this fruit forward, stunningly well-balanced wine.  We even whistled the Wedding March while blending!  Our ’99 Meritage will age gracefully in the cellar for many years to come!  A very limited 169 cases were produced.  

($45 btl/$540 case)

1999 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – This is a soft and early-maturing Cabernet with great structure that is certain to show well on your table.  We respectfully blended 8% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc to this cellar-worthy wine.  The sixteen months of aging in small French oak barrels contributed the traditional nuances we all know and love.  We produced only 198 cases.  ($38 btl/$456 case)

Tilting with Windmills

Casa patrons know that we have been offering a Meritage wine under the name “Quixote” since 1994.  Carl Doumani is trying to establish a new winery under that name.  Mr. Doumani is best remembered locally for his 8-year battle with his neighbor over the use of the name Stags Leap.  Although our legal advisors assure us that our right to use “Quixote” is protected by our undisputed priority of use, 

Mr. Doumani has threatened to sue us if we exercise that right.  We are continuing our efforts to negotiate a solution, and in the spirit of going the extra mile, we forbear to use the name for the time being.  Any suggestions or interventions, which might resolve this matter amicably, will be gratefully received.

Meet Stephanie

We are proud to introduce you to the newest member of our staff, Stephanie Trotter-Zacharia.  Stephanie brings talent and experience to our Casa family in addition to her infectious enthusiasm, high spirits, warmth, and sense of humor.  We are lucky to have her.  Steph’s responsibilities emphasize sales, including the sales room, winery events, PR, the wine club, shipping, and mail orders.  When you call, Stephanie will most likely assist you.  She is eager to meet you in voice and in person.  So by all means introduce yourself.  In addition to taking care of your orders and inquiries, Stephanie can arrange personal tours of the vineyards and winery for you and your guests.  After many years providing hospitality in the Napa Valley she carries a wealth of helpful information about restaurants, accommodations, and special points of interest.

Casa Collection Tasting Notes by Shay Boswell 

2000 Napa Valley Dry Chenin Blanc – We fermented these beautiful Napa Valley Chenin Blanc grapes completely dry with 25% in small French oak barrels.  It boasts aromas of green apple and its clean crisp finish makes it excellent with food.  If you have the discipline you can enjoy this wine from your cellar for up to twenty years!  We produced 348 cases.   ($10 btl/$120 case)

 2000 Reserve Chenin Blanc, Estate – To create this unusual Napa Valley wine we delayed harvest until the grapes reached an optimum ripeness (25 degrees Brix).  We then fermented most of the juice (70%) in new French oak barrels until dry, stirring the yeast lees in each barrel daily to give the wine a special, creamy character.  There are luscious aromas of peach and toasty oak with full-bodied, rich mouth-feel.  Only 170 cases produced.  ($22 btl/$264 case)

 2000 Tinto St. Helena, Estate – We did it!  We actually replicated our fifty- year-old, “field mix” vineyard in Oakville, here on our St. Helena property.  There are nine varietals in this unique blend including an old clone of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Pheffer, Alicante, Carignane, Pinot Noir, and Mouvedre.  Only 150 cases were produced.  ($15 btl/$180 case)

1999 Napa Valley Sangiovese – Like the great hillside wines of Tuscany, our Sangiovese displays traditional rich fruit, a supple palate and balanced acidity.  Our addition of 5% Tinto provides a touch of magic to this perfectly versatile wine.  We produced 240 cases. ($23 btl/$276 case)


“While most wines are named after a single varietal, Meritage wines represent the highest form of the winemaker’s art.  Blending only the varietals traditionally grown in Bordeaux, Meritage wines are the pinnacle of quality for the winemaker.”  From the Meritage Association website: www.meritagewine.org.

Club Casa

In response to your requests we are creating a wine club.  The club provides a way for you to taste each new Casa selection at an especially discounted rate – in your own home without buying an entire case.  Membership also assures you priority of availability.  Membership is free (and worth every penny), you may cancel your membership at any time.  See full details on the order form.

WANTED!  Where is John Alleman?

Our long time friend and cartoonist, John Alleman, has gone missing!  We have been chasing leads for months but we can’t locate him.  In addition to creating loveable images of the Happy Farmer since 1984, John worked and lived on premise between 1994 and 1997.  During this period he staffed the sales room and devised crafty means for keeping the squirrels out of the bird feeders.  Ultimately, John retired from the Casa for health reasons.  Many of you met him during his reign in the sales room; and if you met him, you will remember him.  If you know how to reach John please forward the information to the Happy Farmer who desperately needs his recipe for wild boar and tofu.

Roller coasting

One of the great challenges of operating a cottage winery is dealing with the unexpected:  pumps burn up, hoses sprout leaks, fuses blow, tires go flat, grapes grow mildew, and so on.  The satisfaction and sense of accomplishment, which comes from meeting and overcoming these challenges, is as intoxicating as the wine.  The present situation presents challenges quite beyond anything in our experience.

Last summer, demand for our wines overwhelmed the supply; and for several months, we had very little wine to sell – and no red wine!  To meet the demand, we found an odd lot of excellent Sangiovese to satisfy thirsty customers.  (There is still a bit of that left – great wine at a reasonable price.)  In addition, we offered barrel tastings of our then-unbottled Bordeaux wines and did a brisk business in “futures”.

Thus matters stood on September 8 when we finished applying the new labels to the Merlot, Cabernet, and Meritage.  The finished product was at last ready for market!  If there were a trophy for bad timing, I think that we would be a contender.  In the wake of 9/11, income from our salesroom has plummeted 75%.  In all the planning we never considered the possibility of being scuttled by geo-politics!  AQ veritable force majeure.  With gratitude we continue where we started, relying more than ever on that thing which has always sustained us, the community of Casa Nuestra mail order customers.  Though it looks like something without precedent, we see only one response:  keep on keeping on.  We will, if you will.

The Big Chill

For winter and holiday gifts we are offering fuzzy, royal blue, fleece jackets beautifully embroidered with our traditional “Casa Nuestra” emblem, the cork tree with the heart carved in the truck ($36).  They have pockets that zip up and elastic at the cuff.  Also for sale are golf shirts ($18) and long sleeve tees ($15) for the guys, long sleeve hooded shirts ($18) and special tees ($12.95) for the ladies, and sweatshirts ($19).  All items are embroidered.  Call us toll free for info and sizing.  

866/844 WINE (9463)