TOR Wine

Wine Wednesday: 2010 Tor Family Cabernet Sauvignon

[review] A good bottle of wine has the ability to soothe, heal, overjoy and excite all at once. There is nothing a perfect glass of Cab can’t fix, and nothing more exciting than that first sip of something truly wonderful. Wine was created to be loved…and I think we’re in love.

We were recently swirling and sipping on TOR wines 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa and fell head over heels home run out of the park grab a seat and another glass because this addicting wine is as good as it gets kind of love. The first glass felt like home, somehow. The second felt even better.

TOR Wines is a boutique winery out of Napa Valley known for their limited production specialty wines, specifically Cabernet Sauvignons  (so rare the 2009 vintage sold out in under an hour) from Napa Valley and Chardonnays from cool appellations.

Tor Kenward worked the Beringer Vineyards of Napa for 27 years before starting the small winery with his wife. His first name literally translates to “a high rock,” making him, by nature, a devotee of vineyards with soils dominated by rocks and stones. Great red wine vineyards are often distinguished by their rock materials. Rocks restrict vigor and can concentrate character, producing wines greatly reflective of each vineyard’s terrior….therefore, rocky terriors are part of the inspiration for all TOR wines. “They are in all the vineyards we farm, limiting growth, enhancing quality,” explains Tor.  “At our winery we’re all rock fans, and strive to make wines with an attitude.”

Tor works exclusively with small cooperage houses in France to ensure the best barrels, and uses natural yeasts for both primary and secondary fermentations.  Grapes are hand sorted; wines are hand-made in very small cuvees and receive minimal handling.

Tor’s philosophy is simple.  “We work with world class vineyards, farming them by the acre to maximize their potential.  Because of this all our wines are vineyard designated and made in small quantities.  My job as winemaker is to stay out of the way of a great wine, which I feel is made foremost in the vineyard.  It is extremely rewarding to see and taste each vineyard’s personality come together in barrel.”

The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon we couldn’t get enough of is a blend of exotic fruit from Cimarossa, Mast and To Kalon. Fine, silky tannins provide the backdrop for the racy red fruit in this totally refined, elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, making it totally impeccable from start to finish. Dark red cherries, flowers, mint, and sage all come together for an effortless finish.

I love what I do because it keeps me challenged.  It dares me to strive for perfection, make wines where all the stars align; and nature, man, and science come together as partners. How good is that?  It also reminds me how humble Mother Nature can make us feel in the process. – Tor Kenward

The year of this vintage, 2010, was a gravity defying year. It shouldn’t have been a great year for Cabernet Sauvignon…but it was. A late and wet start pushed back bud break, bloom, and set which contributed to a very small crop. Then a glorious Indian summer allowed the winery to ripen fully what little crop they had. One sip and you can feel the magic of that summer, the heat of the sun in the grape and the perseverance of the vines.

Despite TOR’s cult following, the winery remains relatively undiscovered by mainstream collectors, because, until now, the best chance of sampling Tor Cabernet has been via the winery’s private list, if you’re Robert Parker, or if you scored a coveted reservation at the French Laundry restaurant in Napa (or Per Se in NYC) where it has been the “house favorite” for years.

We asked Tor if he has a favorite at the winery…he told us “My favorite bottle is the one that brings the most friends to my table to share it.”