Featured Producer & Wine (s) on Rick's WineSite Journal

Producer:

Venge Vineyards
Saddleback Vineyards
Rossini Ranch

Appellation:

Napa Valley

Featured Wine (s):

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangovese, Zinfandel

Website:

Saddleback Cellars

Venge Vineyards Wines in Rick's Cellar
Rick, AJ and Nil's Venge at Tra Vigne in St. Helena, Napa. Venge Vineyards Wine Label Library on Rick's WineSite.
     

Nils Venge is a legend in Napa Valley. In addition to being consulting winemaker to many top producers including Del Dotto and Plumpjack, he has his Venge and Saddleback family labels, and with son Kirk is coming out with wines from their property Rossini Ranch. Nils was a featured producer during our 2002 Napa Wine Experience . He and Kirk worked with Dwayne and Susan Hoff at Fantesca in their early releases.

Venge earned a degree in Viticulture from the University of California at Davis, with a minor in Enology, after a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy.  He began his career in the wine industry as vineyard manager for the Charles Krug Winery, moving to Sterling Vineyards in the early 1970s.Soon thereafter, Venge made the leap into professional winemaking when he took a position as the first winemaker and general manager for Villa Mt. Eden in Oakville, California (now the site of PlumpJack Winery). An outstanding run of exquisite Cabernets from 1975-1979 not only put the winery on the map, but also established Venge as one of the industry's new stars.

Another milestone year occurred for Venge in 1982. Not only did he become a minority partner with Dennis Groth in the newly-formed Groth Vineyards & Winery, but also established his own winery, Saddleback Cellars. It was at Groth that his 1985 Reserve Cabernet earned a 100-point rating from Robert Parker Jr.-the only perfect score ever awarded to an American winery. In 1994, Venge split with Groth to pursue his own endeavors at Saddleback and to act as a consultant to other wineries in the area.

 

L to R above - Nils in Penny Lane Vineyard, Nils and Kirk Venge at new Rossini Ranch Vineyard; Nils, Kirk, & AJ in front of new cave being dug at Rossini Ranch; Nils in winery, and with AJ at Penny Lane, Nils and Margrit Mondavi at Tra Vigne.

Venge Penny Lane Vineyard Family Reserve 2000 Sangiovese label  

Venge Scouts Honor Napa Valley blend 2005 Venge Scout's Honor Red Wine Blend 2007
Journal entries: Date, Wine, Rating, Price, Comments
Venge Scout's Honor Red Wine Blend 2007  July 23, 2010 - Venge Vineyards Family Reserve Scout's Honor 2007 - RM 89; Dark color, full bodied, intense full forward black fruits, spicy rich ripe plum;, anise, hints of smoke and subtle cedar overtake the fruit until the big full long spicy berry fruit finish. Bought it for bar-b-que, drank it with dark rich chocolate desert. Can't wait to try it with bbq ribs!  Tasted at home w/L.  http://cellartracker.com/w?751609
   
Venge Family Reserve Penny Lane Sangiovese 1997  October 12, 2009 - Venge Napa Valley Family Reserve Sangiovese 1997 - RM 87: Earthy, leather, hint of cedar with subdued black cherry and black berry fruits on the moderate finish. Tasted w/ L at Angeli's Restaurant.
Venge Family Reserve Sangiovese 1997 Label

 

August 28, 2009 - Venge Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Family Reserve Sangiovese 1997 - RM 88; Hint of cedar aroma and taste gives way to plum and spicy cherry with a touch of anise. http://cellartracker.com/w?50439. Kathryn Hall Sacrashe Vineyard Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 - RM 89 - Long lingering bouquet and flavors of floral and eucalyptus give way to earthy leather with subtle black cherry on a long firm tannin finish. http://cellartracker.com/w?610689. Tasted w/ L, Mark D and Kathy at Angeli's Restaurant.
Holiday dinner wine flight. December 20, 2008 - Lanson NV Brut Rose Reserve Champagne - Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 - Venge Family Reserve Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 - Matthews Cellars Yakima Valley Meritage Red Wine 1998 - Alois Kracher Chardonnay TBA (Trockenberren Auslese) Neusiedlersee Nouvelle Vague No.9 1998 - Beringer Special Select Late Harvest Riesling 1993 - Cavalchina Passito Veneto IGT 2004 - Mt Pleasant Missouri Augusta Vintage Port 1988; Tasted at festive holiday dinner party w/ L hosting Bill and Beth, John and Kathy McM, and Pete and Patty T. Holiday dinner desert wine flight
Venge Family Reserve Penny Lane Sangiovese 1997  October 12, 2009 - Venge Napa Valley Family Reserve Sangiovese 1997 - RM 87: Earthy, leather, hint of cedar with subdued black cherry and black berry fruits on the moderate finish. Tasted w/ L at Angeli's Restaurant.

Venge Family Reserve Sangiovese 1997 Label

August 28, 2009 - Venge Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Family Reserve Sangiovese 1997 - RM 88; Hint of cedar aroma and taste gives way to plum and spicy cherry with a touch of anise. http://cellartracker.com/w?50439. Tasted w/ L, Mark D and Kathy at Angeli's Restaurant.  
Venge Family Reserve Sangiovese 1997 Label July 27, 2008 - Venge Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Family Reserve Sangiovese 1997 - RM 88 - Consistent with earlier, but not last tasting - predominant cedar aroma and taste gives way to plum and spicy cherry with a touch of anise. Tasted w/ L, Erin & Johnny, Barb & Kevin - early birthday celebration for Johnny - presented him with new set of clubs. Tasted at Angelis' w/ Alec serving.
Venge Napa Valley Scout's Honor Zinfandel Blend 2005 July 9, 2008 - Venge Scout's Honor Napa Valley Zinfandel Blend 2005 - RM 89 CG 91 - Fruit forward full bodied black fruit, spice, tar, anise and a touch of 'heat' that detracts slightly from this wine's approachability and enjoyment. eucalyptus. 68% Zinfandel; 17% Charbono; 15% Petite Sirah. Tasted w/ BJB at Tallulah's in Arlington.
May 4, 2008 - Venge Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve 1998 - RM 90 - Bright red berry, cherry, a hint of anise on a long polished firm tannin finish. Tasted w/ L BYOB at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro. RP Review - "The outstanding 1998 Venge Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (285 cases) is more accessible and up-front than this cuvee tends to be in Napa's greatest vintages. There is an overlay of vanilla and heavy, spicy oak in this restrained, feminine effort. Venge's hallmark gorgeously sweet cassis fruit, is more accessible, without the volume and power of top years. Anticipated maturity: now-2015." Robert Parker's Wine Advocate #142 (Robert Parker, 08/01/2002) Rating: 90 Drink from: 2002 to 2015
November 18, 2007 - Venge Family Reserve Penny Lane Vineyard Oakville Sangiovese 2000 - RM 88 - $40 - Medium bodied blackberry, charcoal and smoky cherry and a hint of anise on a long firm tannin finish. Tasted w/ L BYOB at Angeli's Restaurant. Tasted with the Producer, Nils Venge, and sourced this wine from the Vineyard during Napa Wine Experience 2002.
October 6, 2007 - Venge Penny Lane Vineyard Family Reserve Sangiovese 1999 - RM 88 -  Nils Venge, legendary winemaker for many notable Napa producers has championed Napa Valley Sangiovese under several labels including Del Dotto and here, his own. Full firm forward fruit, dark, flavors of black fruit and a hint of cedar and bark. Great complement to robust Italian dinner. Tasted BYOB w/ L Mark D and Lisa at Angeli's Restaurant. Tasted with the Producer, Nils Venge, and sourced this wine from the Vineyard during Napa Wine Experience 2002.
January 11, 2007 - Venge Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Family Reserve Sangiovese 1997 $30 RM 86 WS 86 Medium bodied, predominant cedar aroma and taste coupled with earthy leather and a slight grassiness that detracts from the fruit of spicy cherry and anise which fall off in a soft finish.
Oct 29, 2005 - Venge Family Reserve Penny Lane Vineyard Oakville Sangiovese 2000 - RM 88 - $40 - Medium bodied blackberry, charcoal and smoky cherry with a long firm tannin finish.
Oct 4, 2005 - Venge Family Reserve Oakville Napa Valley Merlot 1998 - RM 89 - Full bodied fruit filled with slightly tart black cherry, cassis and a hint of tar with a full tannin filled long finish.
June 26, 2005 - Venge Family Reserve Napa Valley Merlot 1998 - RM 89 $39 - Dark, inky color. Big, full body - full forward fruit of slightly tart cherry on the front palate gives way to full currant and wild berry flavors with a full lingering oaky finish.
Feb 27, 2004  -  Venge Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Family Reserve Sangiovese 1997 $30 RM 89 WS 86 Predominant cedar aroma and taste gives way to plum and spicy cherry with a touch of anise.
Feb 22, 2004 -  Saddleback Napa Valley Old Vines Zinfandel 1997 - RM 91 $33 Wow! Forward fruit - tar, raspberry prunes currant and a hint of licorice and spice with a incredibly long mouthful puckering plum finish. Great complement to rib dinner.
Dec 6, 2003 - Venge Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve 1993 $90/48 WS 88 RM 87. Slight tartness in this cherry fruit that gives way to berry, herb and anise, blackberry. This wine and producer were featured in our Napa Wine Experience 2002.  
Jan 19, 2003 - Saddleback Napa Valley Old Vines Zinfandel 1997 RM 91 $33 Wow! Not for the faint of heart. This is a huge hedonistic wine - powerful massive forward fruit - tar, raspberry prunes currant and a hint of licorice and spice with a incredibly long mouthful puckering plum finish. A signature wine from Nils Venge winemaker for Del Dotto as well as his own Venge label.  (Rated lower due to emerging slight tartness on the open.)
Dec 15, 2002 - VENGE Napa Valley Sangiovese 1999 $30 Delicious fruit flavorful spicy dark cherry, berry and plum.
Aug 26, 2002 - Venge Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 RM 95 RMP 96 $75 Exceptional full bodied intense concentrated  blackberry, smoky oak, cassis, with layers of fruit. More to follow on fabulous Del Dotto selections.
Aug 24, 2002 - VENGE Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 RM 95 $95 Big full bodied intense flavorful blackberry, oaky cassis and dark cherry.  VENGE Napa Valley Sangiovese 2000 RM 91 $30 Delicious fruit flavorful spicy dark cherry, berry and plum. Tasted with the producer Nils Venge at my favorite Tra Vigne in St Helena Napa Valley (see Napa Wine Experience 02.

Mar 1, 2002 Saddleback Cellars Old Vines Zinfandel Napa Valley 1997 (RM92) ($30) Huge hit of fruit - red raspberry, plum, currant and blackberry with an earthy chocolate finish. This is a signature wine of Nils Venge - wine maker for Del Dotto and others as well as his own label Venge - its a real treat.

July 5, 2000 - Venge 1996 Scouts Honor Family Reserve Napa 86% Zin, 12% Sangio - Nils V is consulting winemaker to Del Dotto and several other boutique producers - I was expecting much more fruit in this one - didnt live up to his Saddleback label (see review). (RM88) ($30)
March 17, 2000 - Saddleback Cellars Old Vines Zinfandel Napa Valley 1997 (RM92) ($30) As Del Dotto says, a real fruit-bomb! Huge hit of fruit - red raspberry, pear, plum, currant and blackberry with an earthy chocolate finish. This is a signature wine of Nils Venge - wine maker for Del Dotto and others as well as his own label Venge - its a real treat. Just received a large selection of his wines from TCWC so watch for more reviews of his wines.
July 3, 1999 - Venge Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 - Tasted at Napa Wine Experience 1999 at  Meadowood Resort dinner featuring Plumpjack Winery Associate Winemaker Mary Pisor.

 

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