From my first contact with James Stewart, Co-Proprietor of Stewart Cellars, a few years ago while he was visiting Chicago, I knew that I had stumbled, maybe a better way to say it, introduced to, wines that I would love from that day forward.
Started by the father, Michael Stewart, in 2000, he has maintained and expanded the winery with the addition of is two children, James, and Caroline and Caroline’s husband, Blair Guthrie. Focusing on 100% varietal wines, although now producing the “Tartan” Red Blend and a Rose, the wines are gorgeous examples coming from the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. The pièce de résistance of the group is a wine they call “Nomad.” Back when I was first introduced, they had one Nomad (more on this later), coming from the famous Beckstoffer Las Piedras vineyards. The other influencing factor was when I was told that the winemaker for the Nomad line of wine was Paul Hobbs. You combine Dedicated Owner, “First Growth” grapes and Visionary winemaker, and it’s hard not to think that the only thing you can produce would be outstanding wines.
It started with the 2012 Nomad and the 2013 Cabernet. Both 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, both aged in French oak for nearly 2 years, one difference being the amount of new oak in each and both being wonderful wines.
A great selling point I used for the Nomad was that if you had bought practically the same wine from the Paul Hobbs Winery, the Paul Hobbs Las Piedras Cabernet, you would be paying around a hundred dollars more! Of note, the wine making has been taken over by Blair Guthrie. Interestingly, both he and his wife, Caroline, worked at Paul Hobbs Crossbarn winery prior to joining Stewart Cellars. You can guess the similarities.
For this specific “Wine of the Week” I am concentrating on the
Stewart Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Nomad” 2012
It’s Christmas Eve and I’ve run all my errands I need to, done some modest cleaning around the house (who am I kidding – didn’t clean a smidge) and started to think about my dinner for Christmas Day. The rest of what I will be telling you isn’t meant to invoke feelings of pity or a “poor me” kind of effect. This Christmas I will be dining alone. No need to go into details except to say, I don’t mind it at all. As I said, I didn’t have to clean a smidge this way!
Looking towards one of my favorite entrees, Beef Tenderloin, immediately the notion of a great Cab came to mind. Having found a new way to prepare using low and slow cooking to get some of the tenderest meat I’ve ever had, I then move on to potatoes. I think roasted this time, mashed is getting a little old. Some green beans to round out the meal, and I’m set. Onward to my wine cellar. Yea, okay, so it’s a closet in my office.
I start out by seeing what I have multiple bottles of, that way if I like it, there is always more. Look at just the cabs, I then start to filter by vintage. I have been drinking more of my older stash as I’m not sure how long I will last (that’s a joke too, kinda). Doesn’t take too long and I come across that familiar bottle that just seems to beckon me. Remember, I’m alone and a wine geek, so wine can do that to me!
Removing both the wine and my trusty Coravin (I don’t want to drink it all at once, hell yes I do, but I’ll be good). Upright she stands until the following day at dinner time.
Christmas Day! Knowing this won’t be as good as Thanksgiving when my daughter was visiting and we polished off a few too many wines, I know that this is still a special day. Coffee to start the day, when don’t I? Modest breakfast and light lunch, knowing too well the feast to come. The potatoes and beans have little prep time but the meat is at least an hour if not a little more when using low heat, so I plan accordingly. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without me watching “Miracle on 34th Street.” Original (1947) and Black and White version only! Wow, something older than me!
Not wanting to drink the whole bottle (see mention two paragraphs ago), I set about extracting the wonderful juice from the bottle. Side Note; Ever buy something you never knew what you’d use it for only to one day find its purpose? Well, I did! Long ago I came across these smaller wine decanters, sometimes used in restaurants to put the wine into before pouring into your glass, and thought how cute they were. For years they have been on a shelf. Light bulb over my head! Use one of them to put the wine into coming from the Coravin. Let some of the wine decant there as well as what I’ve poured into my glass. Viola, two glasses of wine each being decanted to allow the wine to come to perfection.
No photos of dinner this time. There was so much on the plate there was no way to make it look artistic. Just lots of good food waiting for its partner, the wine.
2012 was a stellar vintage. Some wines having a slightly more fruit driven palate. Here’s where the “Paul Hobbs Effect” comes in to play. Like so many of the great winemakers out there, the style of wines created can sometimes have that “Bordeaux” quality to it. Slightly more earthy and austere at first, but after some time, the wine will soften a bit and all the nuances of the wine shine through. This is exactly what has happened. Lush generous dark fruit wrapped by a slightly tannic frame and finishing with a softer feel and long slightly spiced finish. Even better than I remember it years ago and only to get even better in years to come (thankfully I have more).
Judging from some of the reviews on more recent vintages, this wine has continued its trip into each successive year. They have also added further wines to their Nomad wines, adding Cabernets from a number of the various Beckstoffer Vineyards, including the famous “To Kalon” vineyard. They have also expanded their visitor center in Yountville to include a special “Nomad” Library Room.
Being as limited as you might expect, I don’t believe they are still distributed in Illinois. But going to their website by clicking here, should get you to a place that will allow you to purchase their wines.
Best Wishes to all for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.