Wine Spectrum’s 2015 Winemaker of the Year is…

A lot of things have changed in the 25 years we have been putting great wine’s on people’s tables. But one thing that hasn’t is the standard we set so long ago. We will only work with the BEST wines, and the BEST winemakers. We work with hundreds of winemakers and we taste through thousands of wines a year to make sure that we only offer the very best to our clients.

At the end of every year we look back and reflect on the great people and wines we have had the privilege to work with. Last year we started our, now annual, “Top 100 wines of the Year” (see the 2014 Wine of the Year and 2015 Wine of the Year). This year we have our first ever “Winemaker of the year” award.

This year’s award goes to winemaker Russell Bevan. 

“In many respects, the impressively talented visionary Russell Bevan produces wines very much in his own bigger-than-life, boisterous image. With his serious insider knowledge, which gives him access to some great sources that other producers somehow have missed, he seems to magically transform his wines into personality-filled, savory, intensely flavored efforts, many of them truly world-class in quality. He’s been on a fabulous roll for the last five or six years, reaching his pinnacle of success, maybe even greatness, with his 2012s and 2013s. Moreover, he seems to have mastered the 2014 vintage as well.” ~ Robert Parker

The Man

Russell close up cave weblargeWinemaker for Bevan Cellars, Chase Vineyards, Harbison, Wren Hop, and Chateau Boswell

Wren Hop: Passion is a term killed by exhaustive overuse. Still, there’s no other word for Russell’s obsessive love of all things wine. Not only is he the Hemi engine behind Wren Hop, he taught us about exacting work on the sorting table, the principles of fastidious winemaking and the sometimes dark art of pacing a vineyard to coax greatness. (He also wants nothing less than to blow your head off with a bottle of wine.) Wine geeks, oenophiles and heodonists be forewarned, Russell is headed your way with corkscrew in hand.

Chateau Boswell: Russell is an extraordinary winemaker both in skill and passion, who has shown us that his ability to know every barrel from beginning to end and to figure out where each barrel fits perfectly into our final blends is an exceptional talent. This is what places him in the category of people who love what they do so much that they surpass others in accomplishing excellence in their field. His enthusiasm is infectious bringing every member of the Boswell team into the fold which has unified our facility and created a focus upon excellence and total enjoyment in the process of wine production from vineyard to client hand.

“A Draconian approach to vineyard management, good energy and karma in the cellar, and total focus from vineyard to bottle is what makes the difference between good and memorable wines.” ~ Russell on his winemaking philosophy

To help celebrate Russell Bevan winning this year’s “Winemaker of the Year”, for a limited time only we are offering a special price on some of our favorites. 

2013 Bevan Cellars ‘Ontogeny’

Proprietary Red   |  Napa Valley  |  Available Online

B4492Wine Spectrum Rated 96: Ontogeny is a combination of all of the vineyards that have gone into the previous wines, so it has an amazing pedigree, but making sure that they all come together and find their harmony is the challenge. It is not as tannic as the 2012, but has considerably more aromatics at the same stage. The 2013 is an obvious sibling and will be delicious on release. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petite Verdot. 

Robert Parker Rated 95: The 2013 Ontogeny Proprietary Red is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Petit Verdot, and 10% Cabernet Franc, coming from some of Russell Bevan’s favorite vineyard sources – Sugarloaf Mountain, Two Dogs, Tin Box and Tench. Quite flavorful, it is exhibiting slightly more new oak than some of the other cuvées, but is still sexy and opulent, with voluptuous texture, low acidity, and oodles of juicy, succulent black and red fruits, licorice, underbrush and a touch of vanillin. An already irresistible beauty, it can be drunk over the next 20 years.

2013 Bevan Cellars ‘Tench Vineyard “EE”

Proprietary Red  |  Napa Valley  |  Available Online

Bevan Cellars Tench 2013 B4153Wine Spectrum Rated 97, Robert Parker 96: The 2013 EE Tench Vineyard, a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Cabernet Franc, is a stunner. This comes from the red, rocky terraces near the Dalla Valle Vineyard on the western Vaca hillsides in Oakville. This wine has great intensity, with notes of scorched earth, jammy blackberry and cassis fruit, some licorice, underbrush and truffle. It is elegant, yet powerful and authoritative, pure and multi-layered, with a phenomenal finish of close to 50 seconds. This wine should drink well for 20-25 years.

2014 Bevan Cellars ‘Dry Stack Vineyard’

Sauvignon Blanc  |  Sonoma County  |  Available Online

Bevan Sauvignon Blanc Dry StackWine Spectrum Rated 94: Our 2014 Dry Stack Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect follow up to the 2013. It’s a bold wine that jumps from the bottle and demands to be drunk. It has a burst of tropical aromatics right off the bat, followed by peaches and citrus. For a Sauvignon Blanc, it has a fabulous, rich mid-palate with round textures and a finish that goes on and on. 900 cases produced. 


2013 Bevan Cellars ‘Petaluma Gap’

Pinot Noir  |  Sonoma Coast  |  Available Online

B5292Wine Spectrum Rated 95: The 2014 Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir is similar to the 2012, but it has a fresh acidity, a quality that is expressed in most of our 2013 wines.

It has amazing polish for such a young, mouth-filling wine. The flavors go towards plum and cherry, while the finish pushes exotic spice qualities.

“I would say my path has been paved with golden opportunities; having had the auspicious beginning to my winemaking career from Kal Showket who offered me fruit from his best block in one of the most coveted vineyards in the Napa Valley and then following Heidi Barret as winemaker for Showket in 2007. Since that point I have had the good fortune to work with fruit from some of the most spectacular vineyard sites throughout the Napa Valley.” ~ Russell Bevan

The Story of Bevan Cellars

Back in 1995, when Victoria and I started dating in Des Moines, our favorite game was “Guess the Wine.” We would take turns bringing a blind wine and make the other person guess the varietal and region. When I look back on those dates, there is little mystery about how we arrived where we are today.

Soon after that, we moved to Minneapolis and fell in with a group of wine lovers whose passion and knowledge fanned our flame. We started taking regular trips to wine country in California, where we met many of the finest winemakers. We were so inspired by them that to this day we follow many of their principles. We learned first-hand about Philip Togni’s attention to every minute detail…. Saw how Bob Foley would only pick fruit if his palate — not some lab test — told him it was time… Heard Greg La Follette telling us how careful you have to be when making decisions in the winery because even the smallest decision has an impact on the final wine. Our conversations still reverberate with me whether I am at a vineyard or in the winery.

“Russell was a syndicated wine columnist, who has taken his passion for wine from the keypad to the crush pad.” ~ James Laube, Wine Spectator

Soon enough we were searching for property in our native California. Victoria spent three years trying to find the right site. Finally, she found her dream home on eight acres of land in Bennett Valley, just a few miles from where I grew up. It only took one visit by Kal Showket to plant the seed that led to our estate vineyard. Little did we know that Kal would be key to many of the major changes in our lives from that point on. Later that year, the Showket’s gave us a ton of Cabernet Sauvignon from their best block to see if we would enjoy winemaking.

When that ton of fruit arrived at the winery, we had a dozen friends help us sort the grapes. For fifteen hours we worked, examining each grape by hand and sorting them into three groups: plump and juicy, dimpled, and very ripe. We fermented each batch separately. Tasting the lots two days later, the differences were staggering. The hook was set.

–Russell Bevan and Victoria De Crescenzo

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