How to Decode a Silver Oak Product Card

If you’ve visited our tasting rooms or received wine from us, you’ve probably seen our product cards. The half sheet of cardstock has a photo on one side and text on the other. From tasting notes to vintage description, there’s a lot of information—and some industry terms. We’ve defined and further explained several of them to help you better understand what’s inside a Silver Oak bottle.

Tasting Notes

At the very top of the product card are tasting notes from our winemaking team. As a consumer, this is perhaps the most important information: It tells you about the wine—what it looks like, what it tastes like and how it’ll age. Reading wine tasting notes is like reading product details and specs.

First, how does the wine look in the glass? This is the wine’s appearance. For example, our 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “has an opaque crimson color with a purplish hue.”

This is usually followed by aromatics—or how the wine smells. Aromas that occur naturally in the fruit come out during fermentation and those from our American oak bbarrels are expressed over our 24 month aging process. The “alluring nose” of the 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet, for example, features notes of cassis, black cherry, pipe tobacco, salted caramel, cocoa beans and fresh strawberry.

Then, you’ll come across tannin (texture). Tannins are the backbone of a red wine like Cabernet. It provides structure and mouthfeel—and the complexity for the wine to age well. Tannins come out from seeds, skins and even the barrel during aging. Our 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet is described as having “velvety tannins,” meaning the tannins are integrated, balanced and approachable.

Finally, there are different types of finish. The finish can also tell you how the flavor and texture sensation of the wine dissipates. Our 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet has a “lengthy finish,” meaning its black currant and vanilla notes linger after you’ve tasted the wine.

Looking to learn more during your next visit? Book a Cabernet Vertical Tasting experience at our Oakville winery in Napa Valley or our new Healdsburg winery in Alexander Valley.

Our wines are created to be delicious and drinkable upon release, but they can also be saved for a special occasion. We recommend “proper cellaring conditions” to help the wine age beautifully. This means store your bottle on its side (so the wine is touching the cork to prevent the cork from drying out) in a dark, cool place. The ideal temperature is around 55°F.

Vintage Description

Below the tasting notes, you’ll find the vintage description—what happened in the vineyard. This information can help explain why the wine tastes the way it does. More importantly, wine is an unique expression of time and place. The vintage description helps identify (and remind, especially if an older vintage) a moment in time.

One term you’ll likely come across is budbreak. Budbreak is the first action on the vines—when green buds sprout. Prior to budbreak (during winter), the vineyard crews prune the vines in preparation of budbreak. “Pruning is one of the most important things we do for wine quality. In large part, it sets the stage for the upcoming vintage,” says our Napa Valley vineyard manager, Dave Shein.

Another common term you’ll see is harvest. In its noun form (as a season), harvest is the process that extends beyond just the picking of grapes. Read “What Happens During Harvest at Silver Oak Napa Valley” to learn more.

You’ll notice that the vintage description is like a highlight reel of vineyard activity and major weather events. Yes, but it’s also a connection to our winegrowing team and the entire Silver Oak family. Every vintage offers us something new, and we work diligently to not only maintain our approachable, food friendly, Cabernet, but also find ways to make it better every year.

Product card for the 2014 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Product card for Silver Oak’s 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Watch “We Have Yet to Make Our Best Bottle of Wine” to learn more about our philosophy.

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