[review] The holiday season is upon us—lots of family, friends, food and most importantly, wine. Whether it’s what enhances the season or helps you get through it, there’s something great about enjoying a fantastic bottle of wine with loved ones. The famous Napa Valley Moone-Tsai Vineyards is a perfect place to choose from—we couldn’t get enough of their 2009 Cor Leonis. Upwards of $200 a bottle, it’s certainly one of the most enviable gifts this time of year.

Moone-Tsai Vineyards is a Napa Valley winery that crafts extraordinary limited production wines that are prized for their character, complexity, structure, balance and scarcity – upon release through their full maturity. With winemaker Philippe Melka, they use only the most extraordinary fruit from coveted vineyard sources in Napa Valley and the Sonoma Coast …to produce prized cabernets, and other memorable proprietary blends and varietals including our acclaimed Chardonnay and Howell Mountain Hillside Blend.

The vineyards at Moone Tsai Winery in Napa Valley

The vineyards at Moone Tsai Winery in Napa Valley

Each release from Moone-Tsai’s has been as outstanding as the last, giving them a reputation for rare and remarkable wines with pedigree rooted in an extraordinary combination of exceptional fruit, terroir, and artisanal winemaking. Moone-Tsai’s mission is simple – craft the finest wines we know how.

The entire team exercises great care to make sure that the wines they produce and present live up to the “simple mission” that we abide-by. Moreover, as devoted and long-time residents of the cherished Napa community, they take special pride in sharing these wines that bear the “best of the best” fruit from among Napa Valley’s most prized vineyard blocks.

The team during harvest season at Moone Tsai

The team during harvest season at Moone Tsai

We of all people have come to appreciate the essential elements of well-crafted wines over the years. Moone Tsai elements include extraordinary fruit, painstakingly thoughtful winemaking technique, and great French Oak.

The philosophy is rooted in their approach to winemaking. Straightforward in concept, but requiring meticulous attention to detail, Moone Tsai leverages their long-standing grower relationships to secure extraordinary fruit available from Napa Valley’s most notable vineyards and districts, including Coombsville’s Caldwell Vineyard, Oakville’s To Kalon, along with coveted blocks on Pritchard Hill and Howell Mountain.

With the “best of the best” fruit at the wine’s core, their winemaker, Philippe Melka then painstakingly plies his craft; making sure that: “Where possible, …the winemaking techniques in the cellar can create a wine that tells the story of the vineyard.” Carrying this approach through every aspect of winemaking, from harvest, to declassification, blending, and barrel/bottle-aging; the end result is a stunning reflection of a core philosophy grounded in a simple, elegant design, and practiced with ardor, persistence, and inspired winemaking.

Part of the tasting room experience at the Moone Tsai Winery

Part of the tasting room experience at the Moone Tsai Winery

The Cor Leonis Cabernet we tasted draws its prized fruit from Oakville’s heralded To Kalon Vineyard, Pritchard Hill, and Caldwell Vineyard’s legendary Block-15 – whose vines have flourished in the rocky, volcanic soils of the heralded Coombsville District for over 30 years.

This remarkable cabernet in its especially limited production quantities, receives the Cor Leonis designation, to mark its position as the very “best of our best” wines that Moone Tsai produces. Transfixed by the brightest star in the constellation Leo, the Romans dubbed it Cor Leonis, the “Heart of the Lion.”

Bearing an extraordinary combination of fruit from a trifecta of Napa Valley’s most celebrated districts, the 2009 Cor Leonis Cabernet is the hallmark of Moone Tsai’s winemaking philosophy. The wine’s nose entices with aromas of blackberry and spice. In the mouth, these give way to layers of rich, ripe black fruits that are subtly nuanced with minerality and clove. With its seamless integration of sweet tannins, the wine is voluptuous on the palate, and delivers a sustained finish accented by cinnamon and dark chocolate.

It’s the season to indulge, splurge a little and experience your very first bottle of Moone Tsai. It’s a moment you’ll never truly forget.

Stunning vistas at Moone Tsai in Napa Valley, California

Stunning vistas at Moone Tsai in Napa Valley, California