Guitar Aficionado

The Oeno File: 2007 Sleeper Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley


By Chris Gill

Many great wineries end up with surplus juice that they sell to other wineries. Often this is quality stuff that just doesn’t have the desired flavor profile for the finished product that the winemaker is trying to achieve, and they’d rather pass it on to someone else than let it go to waste (or put the effort into bottling and selling a second label offering). Sleeper is one example of a wine made under such circumstances, but instead of being produced and bottled by a winery it’s unique in that it’s produced by one of the Napa Valley’s finest wine retailers, Blicker-Pierce-Wagner Wine Merchants (a.k.a. BP Wine).

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Thanks to their near proximity to and close relationships with many of Napa’s greatest winemakers, BP Wine often gets to sample the extra finished wines that local vintners haven’t decided what to do with yet, including wines produced by smaller, acclaimed “cult” vineyards. Starting in 2005, BP Wine started purchasing the best surplus wines they could find, and they worked with winemaker Julien Fayard (assistant to Philipe Melka of Hundred Acre fame) to develop their own blend and bottle it under their own Sleeper label. As a result, they’ve come up with a wine that has the class and character of a fine Napa cult wine but sells for only a fraction of the price.

Since 2007 was an exceptional vintage in Napa, it makes perfect sense that BP’s 2007 Sleeper is their best offering yet. Pouring a deep, opaque purplish-black, the wine fills the room with the aroma of baking spices as it’s decanted. On the palate it delivers the refined, concentrated character of an expensive California Cabernet, with exceptionally smooth and sweet tannins that make the wine very drinkable and approachable in its youth. According to BP, the juice comes from a high-end, high-scoring winery that they can’t legally disclose, but in the glass there is no mistaking that this wine comes from an extraordinary source. At only $44 a bottle, this wine isn’t just a sleeper, it’s a steal.

For more information visit BP Wine