TIERRA ROJA REVIEWS
...What the experts are saying about Tierra
San Jose Mercury News Review:
Wine: Oakville cabernets
In the Napa Valley, where cabernet sauvignon is king, Oakville
is ground zero, home to many of the industry's rock stars,
including Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Bond, Dalla Valle and Opus
One. The appellation, which cuts a swath across the valley from
the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains in the west to the
lower slopes of the Vaca Range in the east, is seen by many as
the area's sweet spot for cabernet.
Certainly, Robert Mondavi thought so. When he established his
eponymous winery in Oakville in 1966, the property included part
of the To Kalon Vineyard, which was famous even then. Today,
Oakville's most recognizable spot for many tourists is the
Robert Mondavi Winery. When Mondavi died in 2008, the winery had
already passed out of the family's hands. But its founding is
often referred to as the beginning of the modern wine industry
in California. So it surely jump-started the reputation of
After the Mondavi winery, others in Oakville, like Silver Oak
and Groth, gained fame. Success breeds success, and those
wineries eventually were joined by others whose wines would be
highly sought-after. Some are sold for ultrahigh prices to
exclusive (and small) mailing lists. Others are more widely
available. None is cheap, though only a few sell for hundreds of
dollars a bottle.
There's not really one style of Oakville cabernet sauvignon,
because the terrain varies so much. Some argue that the
appellation should be divided into two or three parts. On
Oakville's west side, vineyards are often planted on alluvial
fans, and they're shaded in the afternoon. In the east, rocky
red soils dominate, and many sites bask in the afternoon sun.
The valley floor tends to have heavier, deeper soils. All of the
appellation is far enough south to get morning fog off the bay,
which helps preserve acidity, so even many of the more lush,
opulent wines also display an appealing freshness. I often find
savory flavors ranging from anise to black olive to mint in the
...(Click link for full story)...
Other recommended Oakville cabernets include the powerful
2011 Tierra Roja ($140), with its anise and graphite notes;
READ REVIEWS ON THE CELLAR TRACKER
Tierra Roja 2009 Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
by Santé Magazine
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Rich and deep aromas of jammy black fruit, cassis, dark chocolate,
and espresso, with smooth sweet oak, vanilla and baking spice notes.
Luscious on the palate, offering cooked blackberry, dark cherry,
plum, toffee, and vanilla bean. A touch of black pepper, sandalwood
and earthy minerals on the balanced finish. Delicious. Dry aged
prime rib roast. [can serve now but will improve with age] [Gold
Star] [$301 or more]
Taste of Oakville event is arguably the toughest affair in Napa
Valley to showcase a new wine. Virtually every winery in the
district - including the heavy hitters - are there for one afternoon
of pouring for an exclusive group of trade guests.
So, when newcomer Tierra Roja dominated a room shared by Harlan
Estate, Maybach and Screaming Eagle, we took notice.
This tiny vineyard sits at one of the most famous Cabernet
intersections in America at the corner of Oakville Cross Road and
the Silverado Trail. Screaming Eagle and Rudd are across the street,
and Dalla Valle and Joseph Phelps' Backus property flank it on
either side. There is no denying the pedigree of the red earth of
Oakville, and Tierra Roja captures it in both name and quality.
- All the Wines of North America
Click image to read full article
San Jose Mercury News
A Taste of Oakville
Another standout was the fragrant, savory,
fine-textured 2006 Tierra Roja.
Click full story
Premiere Napa Valley
Barrel Tasting & Auction
– All of Linda Neal’s vineyard management experience
is now captured in her own label. A lovely wine.
I had the opportunity to try
your incredible 2005 vintage last night with a
few friends and wrote about it on my wine blog:
2005 Tierra Roja
Linda Neal ,the owner of
Tierra Roja, has over 20 years of vineyard
management experience and is actively
involved in the vineyard doing a lot of the
work herself. The winemaker for Tierra Roja
is David DeSante who has a reputation for
detailed planning, and execution, leaving
nothing to chance.
...Tierra Roja is rich and elegant with
beautiful balance, and texture on the palate
yet full-bodied and intense. This wine is a
classic for the collector or for those that
just like to drink incredibly good wine.
This wine is evidence that God loves us and
wants us to be happy...
If you are a collector of
fine wine, you should seek Tierra Roja out,
as it is quite memorable.
Click here to read
the whole review
by Robert Parker
Wine Advocate # 180
2005 Tierra Roja Cabernet
A Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Red Table wine from
Coast,California,USA Score: 93
This complex 2005 Cabernet
Sauvignon exhibits a deep ruby/plum/purple color, supple
tannins, and aromas of cedar, licorice, black currants, and
background herbs and oak. The silkiness of the tannins and
the savory, broad, sexy mouthfeel are seductive, but the
wine is concentrated, beautifully balanced, and lush. Enjoy
it over the next 12-14 years. Tel. (707) 944-8720
VINALERT: Tuesday, September 16, 2008
2005 Tierra Roja
One of my
favorite wine events each year is the Taste of Oakville.
The line forms early and hundreds wait at the base of the stairs
leading to the upper tier of the Robert Mondavi winery barrel room
to taste wines from many of the most hallowed wineries in Napa
Valley; Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Bond, Ghost Block, Rudd…
At the 2007
event, there was one name that quickly spread around the room - the
two hundred case bottling of a new winery called Tierra Roja; the
wine was elegant and pure, with refined tannins and, most
importantly, a singular character that separated it from every other
wine in the room. The wine was the star of the show.
The same phenomenon took place several months ago when proprietor
Linda Neil shared a taste of the not yet released 2005 vintage. This
miniscule vineyard is planted on the eastern hillside of the
Oakville appellation, at the intersection of Oakville Cross Road and
the Silverado Trail. The soil (and hence the name) is the exquisite
red soil that lies beneath many of the greatest properties in the
valley, including Tierra Roja neighbors Rudd, Screaming Eagle and
Dalla Valle. Linda's passion for the property is down to the level
of individual vines; she carefully tends the vineyard, looking for
the finest fruit that can possibly be shepherded from the vines.
Like the 2004, the 2005 is characterized by purity, refinement and
balance. We hope you enjoy!
FOOD & WINE GUIDE 2009
Don's Gillette's Weekly Wine Blog February 10, 2009
I woke up last Saturday with teeth gritted,
ready to face the rain. Enough was predicted to suggest that
frayed nerves and exhaustion would supplant the pleasures of the
easy cruise around Napa I had promised my friend Mark.
"There is a God": I mumbled, as I drove past
the north pier of the Golden Gate Bridge. Once again the local
weather man (possibly after sharing some more ceremonial peyote
with his friend and mentor, Don Juan) had the forecast wrong.
This was to be a four winery day and we were
planning to be fortified for it. I was heading north to join
Mark, who was treating us to breakfast and dinner. Linda Neal,
of Tierra Roja Vineyard and Winery, was promising lunch.
Mark's visit had been twice-postponed and he
sought a well-earned respite from Philadelphia temperatures. I
was two years late in excepting Linda's invitation for an
on-site inspection of her great vineyard.
Tierra Roja - red earth - occupies a beautifully
situated, west-facing slope, above the Silverado Trail. Linda's
driveway appears almost as a brief extension at the end of
Oakville Cross Road. Mark and I came to walk the property and
re-taste the 2005 Cabernet, yet the weather and the lunch she
provided were so spectacular that they proved as noteworthy as
We entered the driveway at
12:15pm. By then the sky was piercingly blue and the lunch had
been moved outside. Within minutes, we had shed our coats and
Mark had donned his sunglasses. We had expected a bit of bread
and cheese, or maybe some bruschetta, but Linda (clearly a
serious chef) had about seven courses laid out!
Lunch included the best artichoke I have ever
tasted (steamed, marinaded overnight and then grilled); the
tenderest lamb roast I have ever encountered; Linda's home-made
pickled figs; and the promise of hot cookies for the road! She
seemed determined that the food would be a match for the wine.
As for the wine? The most coveted annual
tasting invitation among California Cabernet lovers is called
the "Taste of Oakville". It is the only trade venue where
Oakville cult wines like Harlan, Bond, Dalla Valle, Screaming
Eagle and the like can be tasted side-by-side. I never miss this
event, and Tierra Roja has been my own favorite Taste of
Oakville for two years running.
What does it taste like? I usually describe it
as a slightly more masculine sibling of its neighbor, Screaming
Eagle. It has a vivid ruby color and is boldly structured and
precisely focused. It coats the palate with a lingering cascade
of ripe red cherry, red currant, red licorice, vanilla, cinnamon
and other baking spices: all this firmed by the hard mineral
undercurrent that is a signature of Oakville Cabernet.
Pretending to Work
We walked off the effects of lunch and great
Cabernet with a climb up through the vineyard, followed by a
pruning lesson from Linda. Although her wine has seen only three
vintages released, Linda has been personally grooming and
tending the organically-farmed property since 1987. The view
from Tierra Roja is wonderful on a bright day like this, with
Screaming Eagle only one of the famous vineyards Linda can smile
As you may imagine, we stayed too long and had to bolt out of
the driveway for our next appointment. We left warm and cheerful
and our stomachs were full of great food, yet we were both soon
cursing as - halfway down the valley - we discovered that the
cookies had been forgotten!
ACME WINE COMPANY
Click image to read the whole review
Did a duxelle stuffed
tenderloin for 12 for NYE … with a horizontal tasting of ’04
cabs. Hourglass, Hartwell, Harris,
Tierra Roja, and Von Strasser (O.K. a blend but like the
Dali Lama says … learn
the rules so you know how to break them properly).
All great but the Roja was the
sleeper. Luscious chocolate on the palate love you long
time! - Greg
Casserly, Acme Client
Mr. Jesse Jeong, editor
Wine Cafe Club
The Napa Wine Project visits and reviews every winery in
the County - whether or not it is open to the public, as well as every
venture that offers a "tasting experience."
Every so often on
this project we come across a gem - this is one of those wines. Linda
Neal is the owner and has a background in Agriculture. She initially
came to the Napa Valley during a study in Botrytis control. That led to
additional work within the vineyards and by the time she retired she had
over 20 years experience running a formidable vineyard management
company within the Napa Valley for high end wineries. As she says "the
wine industry gets in your blood and it becomes a life long passion".
Today she retains a 4 acre piece of land in the heart of the Oakville
Appellation. Everything about her involvement has to do with the land
and the vineyard; the name "Tierra Roja" is a dead giveaway to this.
Meaning, "red soil" in Spanish this describes her vineyard perfectly.
When exposed, this brilliant red soil can be seen from a long ways away.
We recently had a chance to visit and walk the extremely steep terraced
slopes of her property. From the upper part of the hillside vineyard
there are excellent views overlooking the entire central Napa Valley
(click on our photos to see this). There are various Cabernet Clones
planted, the types of clones combined with the steep very rocky soils
produces extremely small berries.
Attention to detail in the vineyard is key here and Linda is
continuously managing all aspects of the vines year round. Over the
years with her long history of working in the vineyards Linda has picked
up many of the state of the art vineyard management practices that she
now employs on her own vineyard. Pulling leaves to provide just the
right amount of exposure during the ripening season is key. Each vine is
individually managed based on its vigor and other factors. Timing is
everything in vineyard management, especially with dropping fruit during
the ripening window. Only the "best" fruit is allowed to fully ripen.
The vineyard ripens at about the same time and they can selectively pick
specific vineyard blocks, doing all their harvesting on the same day.
This vineyard tends to be among the earliest ripening of the Cabernet
Sauvignon vineyards in the Oakville appellation. With nearby vineyards
that include Screaming Eagle, Showket, Rudd and Dalla Valle it is no
wonder that another nearby vintner has coined the term "Magic Hill" for
this unique Eastern hillside part of Oakville! Linda purchased this
property in 1987 and planted it to vines in 1989.
Tierra Roja actually made wine for 3 years in private wanting to perfect
their style as well as deciding which vineyard blocks to use. Note the
plow that is featured on the label. It is a testament for how the
property used to be farmed as well as a tie in to FFA (Future Farmer's
of America) which Linda was a part of and still supports in a variety of
ways. Today rather than using a horse and plow, cover crops are used in
between the rows and the entire vineyard is managed by hand. The 2004
Cabernet Sauvignon was their first vintage, which we had the privilege
of trying. All fruit for this wine is from Linda's vineyard - it is 100%
varietal and only 160 cases of this wine were produced (all sold out -
but look for future vintages via their online mailing list). This is a
special wine that has the "it" factor. It is a wine that is easily on
par with any of the best Napa Cabernet's that we have sampled on this
project; the "it factor" has that special richness combined with
elegance that is not often found but when you do, it is a special treat.
The 2004 is a deep dark ruby red wine which is seamless on the palate.
By this we mean it is rich, but elegant with great balance. The nose has
seductive aromas of very ripe fruit - blackberry mixed with a cedar box
of spices and nuances of a beautiful earthiness representative of this
particular terroir. The broad expressive flavors of fruit are
immediately felt on the palate and you may even pick up some mineral
notes towards the finish that lingers leaving you only wanting more!
Based on the small acreage and the fact that Tierra Roja does sell some
of its fruit to other vintners, their production will always be
extremely small. The best chance to enjoy their wines is to join the
mailing list - their release date is usually in September. Several high
end restaurants in the Napa Valley also carry the wine. Sometimes Linda
puts on private vineyard clinics in which she discusses Viticulture and
how vines are managed. During these clinics you get to actually tie,
prune, sucker and or thin some of the vines. Tierra Roja also supports a
variety of non profits with their large format bottle charity program -
picks Tierra Roja as one of their top picks for "Cult Wine To Come"
(scroll down the article to "AND
CULTS TO COME ")
Blackburn's Cult Wine Class Includes Tierra Roja
Dean & DeLuca
Dean & DeLuca Winter Catalog:
Tierra Roja Cabernet Sauvignon
One of the pleasures of Napa is knowing some of the
small producers personally. Linda Neal at Tierra Roja in Oakville is not
just a neighbor, but a friend. And we're so proud of the fabulous "Big
Red" she is creating. These are very special wines, which are sadly in
very limited supply. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Dean & Delucca
Check out the Dean & DeLucca WINE BLOG!
Click to see the full sized article
From Don Gillette, Napa Valley Winery Exchange:
2004 Tierra Roja
Wonderfully fruity and full of
oaky spice, the pristinely defined aromas of this distinctively
Oakville Cabernet are of sweet red cherry, red currant, red rose
petals, cinnamon, vanilla, earth and dried herbs. The wine is
tightly structured but already gorgeous to drink, as the
sweetly-ripe red plum, cherry, grenadine and vanilla themes
continue to stand out. As expected, the finish, despite it
length and delicious fruit, is stiffened by tannin. Expect this
outstanding debut release to improve for several years and be
long lived. Resist, if you can, its immediate charms. 160 cases
415 Taylor Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
The Wine Spectator Online, May 03, 2007:
I dined with friends at Ken Franks
in Rutherford. It has a classy wine country inn atmosphere, with ideal
patio dining. I've enjoyed many meals at La Toque, but this one was by
far the finest, with an exciting range of entrees.
We drank a 2005 Kutch Pinot Noir Russian
River Valley, which is an amazingly supple, complex and harmonious wine
for winemaker Jamie Kutch's first effort.
We also savored a
2002 Shafer Hillside
which is also remarkable. It is a deep, profound, richly flavored wine,
yet its finesse, balance and subtle Cabernet flavors worked perfectly
with the five-course meal.
graciously offered us a taste of two new wines, both small-production
Napa Valley Cabernets that were being served with that evenings tasting
menu. The 2004 Roy Estate (about $100 retail) was dominated by oak, with
dried currant flavors. I liked the 2004 Tierra Roja (also
about $100) much better. It offered an intriguing vanilla-cherry-yogurt
aroma and was smooth and polished on the palate.
I tried the 2004 Tierra Roja at Taste
of Oakville couple days ago, thought it was one of the highlights at the
David DeSante is the winemaker and he
has let the red earth speak.
So often the wines from Napa have been
“over-made” with fruit oak and alcohol in a manner that is powerful but
not profound... This a a true estate wine.
...The pleasures of this wine are many,
but I find special joy in how the terroir of the red soils of Oakville
are captured in the glass and speaks to why these soils and these people
are special. 97 points
Read Scott Tracy's Complete Web Blog Review
or Here in our own archives
A TASTE OF OAKVILLE
Click the link above to read the whole thing. Here is an
One of Napa most famous sub-
appellations, Oakville is most notably known for producing stellar
Cabernet Sauvignon that command hundreds, and in some cases
thousands of dollars on the world’s best wine lists ...
At this year’s event there were some stand-outs.
The inaugural vintage of Tierra Roja (www.tierraroja.com)
is set to release in September 2007, and, with only 120 cases
available this year it is sure to become a cult classic.
rated 97 points
takes it's place amongst the best of Oakville; Screaming Eagle,
Harlan etc. Beautifully well made, with bright fruit and smooth
integrated tannins. Mid palate opens with Cedar, leather, pencil
lead, pomagrate, red and black fruit, and just the right amount
of forest floor. The complex flavors continue to unfold in the
long, long finish. This wine would stand with any classified
Bordeaux, and will only improve with bottle age. (35 views)
winery is neighbored by Screaming Eagle, in
Oakville…..This in my opinion is the next Scarecrow or
Harlan…..Don’t miss it. The other recommendation is
Regusci, The Angelo’s vineyard is fantastic…….Enjoy your
trip, and keep up the good work…….I’m a fan.