How many ways are there to measure consistency? Who knows? And it doesn’t matter. What matters to us is the remarkable consistency that the folks at Burgess Cellars have had over the past thirty years.
Imagine this: Bill Sorenson has been the winemaker up at Burgess since 1972. I don’t know about you but just about the only thing most anyone has done consistently for over 30 years is grow older. It’s quite a feat and it’s one of the main reason the wines of Burgess, particularly their spectacular Cabernet is—wait for it—consistently among those wines that are at the top of each Napa Valley vintage.
Here’s what you need to know about Burgess. The winery is located at the top of Howell Mountain overlooking Napa Valley where they cultivate two vineyards, a west facing Cabernet vineyard and an east facing Syrah vineyard. In 1972, Tom Burgess and family resurrected a ghost vineyard that had been located high up in the mountains back in the 1880s. Of course they hired Bill Sorenson at the same time and whether it’s a case of not being able to get rid of him or being wholly satisfied with the wines he’s made all these years, the team has been together ever since.
It’s this spot on Howell Mountain that we are willing to bet keeps Sorenson on the property and neglecting what must have been numerous offers from other wineries over the years. Howell Mountain might be the one, true “God’s Country” of Napa Valley. The steep slopes keep yields down as the vines struggle to produce their fruit. The elevation combined with the western-facing Cabernet vineyard results in wines that demand respect.
What kind of respect? Burgess Cabernets are not for the faint of heart. And they aren’t for folks who want their wines flabby, floppy and full of goo. These wines deliver mountain-grown backbone with dark fruit flavors and all the complexity of aromas and flavors you expect from Howell Mountain wines. Put another way and putting these wines in context, the Burgess Cellars Howell Mountain Cabs sit just south of “modern” in style. This is a good thing.
This also means Sorenson can craft wines that truly age. Here at Ambrosia we taste older Burgess wines regularly and are taken aback by the fruit, structure and complexity that the ten and even twenty year old wines possess. How satisfying it must be for the Burgess Family and Bill Sorenson to be able to pull a fifteen-year-old wine out of the cellar and know it’s still got the goods.
Consistency? Yeah. We know what it means and we’ve got a good way to measure it. Our measure is Burgess Cellars.