91 Insider Points
Rich Napa Red is Going Right Into Our Library
I'll admit, I had never heard of the Enlace label until it came across my desk. Then I tasted it. Then I learned it was a small project of the acclaimed Hoopes team. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed. A killer Napa blend under $15? Sign me up every time.
Dark chocolate & rich plum on the nose. The palate shows black cherry and macerated plum skin on a smooth, medium body. The finish is mid-length, ending the quaff with notes of blueberry. Enlace roped me in, and it's not letting go.
91 Points - JZ February '18
Napa Valley, California
In the 1980s a retired attorney by the name of Spencer Hoopes fell in love with wine country and bought himself a small plot of prime grape-growing land in Oakville. By the 1990s, Hoopes had legions of fans for his extremely limited, estate-produced Cabernet. Eager to increase production, without sacrificing quality, he set his sights on a nearly forgotten estate on Howell Mountain, one with incredible potential.
From 2006 until its close, Hoopes was the owner and winemaker of the famed Liparita Cellars, making a run of critically acclaimed wines under the Liparita stamp as well as under Enlace—Liparita’s rarely seen “second label.”
This now fully mature red is pure Hoopes—with the vintner’s textbook silky smooth palate impression and seductive, ripe berry fruit. The wine is also from a super successful, overlooked vintage, and one that benefitted mightily from hang time in the cellar. “The 2010s are magnificent, viscerally thrilling wines loaded with character and personality. To be sure, the 2010s – the product of a long, cold growing season – are going to require a few years in bottle.” Done!
Four reasons we love it:
- “This is the type of vintage that is often overlooked upon release, but that consumers regret not purchasing more deeply when the wines start showing their full potential 4-5 years later,” writes Vinous on the subject of 2010 red varietals in the Napa Valley.
- Spencer Hoopes planted his first grapevines—on a 10-acre vineyard in Oakville—back in 1983. His first commercial release, a 1999 Oakville Cabernet, was met with rave reviews.
- Because Hoopes loves wine and farming second only to his love of dogs, he named one of his most successful, value-priced wines Hoopla “The Mutt.”
- At Liparita Cellars Hoopes resurrected one of the state’s great “ghost wineries,” a diminished though full-of-potential estate erected in 1880.
Enlace was a project by Spencer and Lindsey Hoopes that how now become Liparita. Liparita was one of the first brands in the Napa Valley to designate vineyard origin on the label, with Liparita Howell Mountain Claret. And this was the first wine from California to win a gold medal at the Paris Exposition in 1900. Liparita was one of the first “brands” in Napa even before brands were part of the lexicon of winemaking.
In 1880, William Keyes, a geologist, came to Napa Valley and discovered what he felt was a remarkable area on Howell Mountain with the perfect soils for wine. The soils reminded him of those on Lipari Island, a volcanic archipelago off the coast of Sicily, and that became in inspiration for the name “Liparita.” But the combination of Prohibition and then phylloxera took their toll on many wineries, including Liparita. With the rebirth of the Napa Valley as a winemaking destination at the end of the 1900s the Liparita label reappeared, thrived and then waned. In 2006, Spencer Hoopes purchased the brand, determined to bring it back to life.
Pair with red meat, think braised short ribs or beef stew, with a crusty baguette and a cheese plate for dessert.