He began collecting wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Napa Valley. His passion for wine became serious – eventually he amassed what is perhaps the largest vertical collection of Chateau d’Yquem in the world. He began to consider buying vineyards, first in Bordeaux (which was facilitated by the fact that he spoke fluent French), and then in Napa Valley. He contacted winemaker Paul Hobbs in 2001 (without recommendation or introduction) and Paul agreed to meet with him; it was Patrice’s first time in California. The two men became wine friends, helped by the fact that during a meeting in Paul’s office, Patrice saw an empty 1992 bottle of Château d’Yquem, which Paul had used with his father when he was young.
Paul created several yearbooks with Patrice in the early 2000s, but they were never published. Patrice learned everything he could by working directly with Hobbs. The first commercial release of Vice Versa took place in 2003. Paul was winemaker from 2003 to 2013. When Pawel was busier with his own clients and international projects, Filip Melka and his team, including winemaker Maajan Koszczycki, were invited to work on the wines. They made some changes to the winemaking process, including the introduction of longer fermentation times, longer maceration times and not using pressed juice.
In 2011, Patrice met Samantha, a pharmacist in Montreal. They married and eventually settled in Napa Valley in 2013. Although Samantha no longer practices her profession as a pharmacist, she now focuses on managing Vice Versa with Patrice, overseeing their distributor and organizing visits to Wheeler Farms where they currently produce their wines.
Vice Versa’s wine philosophy is to produce good old wines from the best vineyards in the Napa Valley – using some of Andy Beckstoffer’s six heritage vineyards – and to create wines that are balanced and polished, but with great depth. Versa’s vice president is particularly interested in Cabernet Sauvignon. These are wines with pure fruit, balanced and elegant offerings, while embracing the terroir and soul of the Napa Valley.
In 2019, Patrice and Samantha purchased an 11-acre parcel on Route 128 north of Calistoga (near the famous Amoenus Winery). The previous owners, Harmon and Joan Brown of Aril Vineyards, have already obtained the necessary and required permits to build the winery. The winery was designed by San Francisco-based architecture firm Lundberg Design. The 5,000 square foot cave will also be part of the winery’s operations.
The property includes approximately 6 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and is very unusual for Napa Valley, just under an acre of Lagrin. The only source of producers or wineries we encountered in the Napa Valley for Lagrene was the Oakville vineyard of Turnbull Cellars and Ballentine Vineyards north of St. Louis. Joseph. This variety originally comes from Northern Italy and is related to Syrah and Pinot Noir. There are not many plantations in the state of California – the central coast of the state probably has the most plantations. Mike Wolfe runs this organically grown winery.
In addition to its Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon portfolio, Vice Versa produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Platte Vineyard in neighboring Sonoma County. This website is the property of Eric Flanagan of Flanagan Wines.
2018 Vice Versa Platt Vineyard Chardonnay medium gold color. Sensing the characteristics of the grape variety in a bouquet is a beautiful thing, not a manipulation of the scents. Aromas of lemon cheesecake, tangerine, pomelo and the floral sweetness of flavors like honeysuckle. On the palate, aromas of lemon, lime, kumquat and green apple unfold. The spicy acidity is bright and lively, and this liveliness carries the fullness of flavor into a mouthwatering finish. When I tasted this wine, it was hard to believe it was grown and produced in California. Underwent no malolactic fermentation, was fermented in stainless steel and aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Samantha recommends serving this wine at cellar temperature or slightly warmer.
2018 Vice Versa Stelzner Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine comes from the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon neighborhood at the Stelzner winery (Deer Leap District) – from the same vines used for the 1972 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon, which was entered in a Paris Court tasting in 1976. Properly extracted, like their other Cabernet Sauvignon wines, this wine is very dark in color. Aromas of plum, blackberry and boysenberry, a floral note of dried rose petals and a very subtle resin note. Let this wine continue to breathe – the fruit develops well after opening. A powerful finish with dark spice, pepper notes and broad-based tannins – all complemented by mouth-watering acidity.
The 2018 Vice Versa Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon shows aromas of dried stones, some mineral nuances, as well as a pleasant perfumed elegance, especially of lavender. Very dark with aromas of blackberries and plums. The tannins are not far behind – they are medium-bodied, almost heavy and slightly earthy on the finish and very long. There are also notes of old cedar and tobacco leaves in the finish. The finish is juicy and anchored with a tangy watery mouthfeel.
Calona’s 2019 Vice Versa Vineyard (barrel tasting) is already an exceptional wine. Patrice, who worked at To Kalon from 2004 to 2009, gained access to a large block within this historic vineyard, as well as additional Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and clones, in 2014. The bouquet evokes the dry earth – we immediately thought of the smell of the first rain falling on the dry ground on a warm late autumn day. As the wine breathes, beautiful nuances of baking spices appear. Rich in flavor with aromas of blackberry and boysenberry. The impressive density of the finish is striking – certainly still young oak tannins straight from the barrel, but also plenty of powerful grape tannins. A hedonistic offering that should be in the library of serious collectors of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
These aren’t the only wines Vice Versa produces – other excellent offerings in their portfolio include a vineyard known as Beckstoffer Dr. Crane and several wines known as BBS (essentially the best barrel selections from individual vineyards). They also produce a small batch of Cabernet Sauvignon called Mysterones. The large designated wines produced in the Napa Valley are primarily for distribution.
Their most coveted, limited production wine is called Magnificent Seven and is a rare selection of vines and fruit barrels from several Bextoffer heritage vineyards. This is an unusual blend of grapes, as almost all producers who source grapes from Beckstoffer either label their wines or make a wine for a single Beckstoffer vineyard (even if the vineyard name is not on the label). The story behind this title is fascinating. Patrice saw The Clash in Ottawa when he was young – he sat in the front row and quickly got caught up in the mosh pit and briefly fainted during an aggressive push. He woke up to find he was on stage with the band playing The Magnificent Seven. And the label consists of seven grouped silver 7’s – each digit 7 is hand-painted by a member of the Vice Versa core team.
Their labels have been designed by two of the best in the business – first by Chuck House of Icon Design Group, and more recently by an entirely different iteration by Richard von Saal of Napa-based VonSaal Design, which features an image that covers the back using curved lines while depicting the Fibonacci sequence (where each consecutive number is an addition of the previous two, starting with 0 and 1).
The tastings are for serious wine lovers and collectors and are usually organized by Samantha or Patrice. Almost all wine is sold directly to consumers, but in some states, including Florida, North Carolina, New York and Texas, a small percentage of wine is distributed selectively. Casual wines can be found at Auberge du Soleil, Press Restaurant, Gary’s Wine – all in St. John’s. Helena and V Wine Cellars in Yountville. For more information or to sign up for the mailing list, go to: www.viceversawine.com.
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