[WINE REVIEW] 2009 Rocca Family Vineyards Tesorina

[review] Two thousand nine was a very good year. Well, for Napa Valley at least. Rainfall was more than two-thirds the norm for the third year in a row, the normally sticky summer months were cool with an unexpected heat wave in September and a vine shaking storm hit in mid-October. Against the odds something wonderful came out of that summer…something that was bottled and aged to perfect so we could relive every moment of that harvest with the decanting of a bottle and the aeration of a sip.  That year Rocca Family Vineyards harvested the coveted 2009 Rocca Family Vineyards Tesorina.

The idea for Rocca Family Vineyards began many years ago, in the minds of proprietors Mary Rocca and Eric Grigsby. Eric grew up with the stories of his father, a Tennessee farmer-turned-salesman, reminding him of their close connection with the earth and the bounty it bore. Mary, born in the rolling hills of northern California, spent many warm summer days working in her mother’s vegetable garden. Picking prunes and walnuts out of nearby orchards late each year inspired an awe for the bountiful harvest a carefully tended plot of land could produce. While launching their respective careers – Mary as a cosmetic dentist, and Eric as a physician – the pair dreamed of the day when they could re-establish this kind of connection with the land they loved.

In 1999, that dream came to fruition. A three-year search for the perfect vineyard finally yielded results: a 21-acre vineyard nestled deep in the heart of the Napa Valley, where the pair had made their home for over a decade.

Rocca really got on the map in 2002, when its Grigsby Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon came in #1 in a blind tasting of 12 Rising Star Cabernets at the Vintners Club tasting in the U.S. In 2008, Celia passed the winemaking baton to Paul Colantuoni, who has continued to produce world-class wines under the Rocca label. His non-interventionist approach to winemaking allows the unique characteristics of each vineyard, and each growing season, to shine.

“These sites have all of the pieces in place to make world-class wine, so my job is mainly to stand out of the fruit’s way,” he says. “My goal is to make charismatic wines with lots of flavor and aromatics, but without sacrificing elegance. I try to soften the tannins and make wines that are very intense, but they must also be balanced and authentically convey the character of the vineyards.”

Paul’s winemaking style is the perfect mix of old-world finesse and new-world exuberance. He believes that excellent wines start with excellent vineyards, and that gentle, minimal care is essential to transforming fantastic fruit into fantastic wines, and he shares our belief that 90% of great winemaking is done in the vineyard. He uses long, slow fermentations, frequent punchdowns, gentle pressing and extended barrel aging. Our wines are bottled without fining or filtration to express all the rich varietal character of the fruit.

The Rocca Family Vineyard in Napa Valley
The Rocca Family Vineyard in Napa Valley

Rocca Family Vineyard’s Tesorina is the culmination of over a decade of farming fine winegrapes in the Napa Valley. At Rocca Family Vineyards, they call the Tesorina is their “little treasure”. Simply put, it is the pinnacle of what they do; the attempt to encapsulate the very best that Rocca estate vineyards have to offer. This 2009 bottling epitomizes the charming elegance and balance of the vintage, while expressing its intense aromatics and beautiful fruit purity on a rather grand scale.

The nose of this wine is simply stunning. It shows a deep core of thick, rich fruit reminiscent of cassis, ripe blackberries, blueberry syrup and black cherries. Time in the glass brings layer upon layer of intriguing complexity: fragrant notes of acacia flowers and violets, stylish mineral elements of graphite and rock dust, and a subtle flourish of eucalyptus. On the palate the wine offers waves of pure, delicious dark fruit. The mouthfeel is rich and expansive, with the sumptuous flavors balanced perfectly by bright acidity.

The wine leaves the lingering impression of fresh ripe blackberries, carried seamlessly on a structure of the beautifully resolved, soft silky tannins that are Rocca’s signature. Rocca’s 2009 Tesorina is an iconic expression of this wonderful vintage, and is sure to be a future classic.