photos and interview by Joey Stewart
We had an occasion to do a tasting with Keith Webster of Webster Cellars. As is often the case with great wine makers the man behind the wine is ever bit as interesting as the wine itself.
Webster grew up in Germany (his father was a spy) and often found himself visiting neighboring countries such as Spain, Italy and France and recalls his first wine as a Spanish Madeira. This was his foray into wines, and was hooked on Old World vintages that were lower in alcohol, high in acidity and extremely well-balanced.
In the 80’s Webster happened to be at a specialty food conference in San Francisco where he knew the founding maker of Kendall Jackson, Jed Steele, and he encouraged Webster to visit some of Napa’s finest vineyards during his visit to California.
It would be some years later, after a series of events that left Webster penniless that he moved to California and enrolled in the UC Davis Wine Education Extension program. It was then that Webster met his winemaker Chris Dearden randomly. They exchanged thoughts about the style of wines and Deardon hooked Webster up with Rudy von Strasser who had access to a Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard high on Diamond Mountain.
With this purchased fruit Webster made about 75 cases. Through another series of events Webster sold out of these cases quickly and gained a notable amount of connections in Houston.
The style of wines Webster makes is definitely Old World in style, and he eventually went on to create some fantastic, well-balanced whites. The 2013 Sauvignon Blanc is the first white wine under his label. It is elegant and bright with plenty of floral hints and a slight sweet honeysuckle.
The Left Bank is loaded with an essence of stone fruit, with just a hint of tannins. The Right Bank is 57% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petite Verdot and loaded with a basket of cherries, raspberries and Cassis for this spirited wine that is soft on the palate.
This blend is a 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc blend. The wine is supple, round, juicy, seductive and ideal for drinking over the next 7-8 years. — Robert Parker
Webster offers, “The wines develop in an ever-changing scenery of the senses, morphing from “wound tight” to open and embracing, like a love affair. A new experience with every sniff of the glass and every taste of the wine, that, to me, is what fine wines should do. Create a journey of the senses.”
A loving description of wines that are developed for a discerning palate. Consider Webster’s vintages are meant for a select club of tasters who enjoy a bit of the Old World with fruit from both Sonoma and Napa Valley. These wines are limited in supply and sell out each year. Last year they sold out in 60 days.
You may find Webster exclusively at Specs, or on their website, at a range of 29 to 95 dollars for the reserve. Webster made about 350 cases this year. If you find Webster on a wine list, snap it up.