The best time of year to travel to Napa Valley wineries is for the fall harvest. Newton Vineyard in Napa Valley has another reason to visit this year with the addition of new winemaker, Rob Mann. We sat down with Mann to find out what attracted him to Napa, what he's drinking this fall, and more.
Robert Mann, Senior Winemaker and Estate Director at Newton Vineyard.
For you, what sets Napa Valley wines apart?
ROB MANN: I find the signature of Napa wines is their inherent fruit intensity balanced by power and concentration.
How does Newton fit into this and what makes Newton wines unique?
RM: Newton aims to capture the strengths of Napa's bold fruit and the diversity of the micro climates where our vineyards are located to blend varietal wines that best reflect the personality of a vintage.
As the new winemaker, what kind of perspective do you think you bring to Newton? What attracted you to working at Newton?
RM: I love diversity in wine and insist that wine must pair well with food. Being Australian, our food culture is influenced by many countries—[most] notably Southeast Asia. This influence has meant that the wines I enjoy are typically more fragrant, fruit-driven with a sense of minerality, and [have a] freshness that complements the delicate, vibrant, and clean flavors that I enjoy eating and that will not dominate a meal.
Napa is among the most highly regarded wine regions in the world and is particularly famous for Cabernet Sauvignon, which was a strong magnet for me to move here. The potential of Newton, with its quality of vineyards to produce some of the world’s best Cabernet-based wines, is why I am here.
What are your tips for enjoying wine that anyone can follow?
RM: Look for producers you know and trust or go on the recommendations of someone who shares the same tastes as you, [in order] to avoid being disappointed. And, always drink wine with food, as the combination makes the experience of both better.
Summer is almost over—what wines do you suggest drinking before fall sets in?
RM: A plate of freshly shucked Hog Island Kumamoto oysters with a perfectly chilled young Chardonnay is a beautiful summer match.
What are your favorite fall wines?
RM: When the weather cools down, wines need to warm you up. I like the medium-bodied reds from Burgundy and the Rhone with spice and fragrance. Northern Italian Barbera and Nebbiolo, McLaren Vale Grenache, and Washington State Syrah.
What is your favorite current Newton release and what do you like to pair it with?
RM: We have just bottled the 2012 reds, which look outstanding and are something to look forward to from the region as a whole. [Since] it is summer, I really enjoy the 2011 Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay from a cool vintage. This wine has the depth and richness typical of Newton, but with a restrained and fruit-driven palate. [Last night], it went perfectly with my roasted organic chicken and a locally grown heirloom tomato salad.
Visit Newton Vineyard at 2555 Madrona Ave., Saint Helena, 707-963-9000