Beyond the cult cabs and posh brands, sometimes one comes across a cabernet sauvignon wine that is a reflection of what the Napa Valley is about, not just in terms of terroir, but in terms of history, friendships and families. Trivium is such a wine.
Trivium is a 100% cabernet sauvignon wine created by three partners and friends who have left their footprint on dozens of prestigious Napa Valley wines over their long careers, Stu Harrison as a marketer, Jack Stuart as winemaker and Doug Wight, as a 5thgeneration grower. All three are from family-oriented Saint Helena, the cradle of Napa Valley winemaking from the 1860’s.
The name Trivium means a meeting of three ways and is an allusion to the friends’ living in the same neighborhood. They became friendly because of their daughters who went to the same schools and played in the same backyard – a nearly 150 year old historic vineyard in Saint Helena owned by Wight’s family. It was the years of happy frolicking in the vineyard for numerous childhood parties that the vineyard block for Trivium was named: Les Ivrettes (French for ‘tipsy girls’).
This historic vineyard property, Lewelling Vineyards, is at the core of the quality in the wine. Doug Wight is a direct descendent of John Lewelling, a Napa Valley pioneer, who first planted vines at this location in 1865. If the name sounds familiar, it was the Lewelling brothers who are credited with establishing the Pacific fruit industry. John’s brother Henderson brought 700 one-year old fruit trees from Iowa – by ox-team – to the Oregon Territory in 1847. He and brothers John and Seth, arriving via California, helped their brother cultivate the apples, pears, cherries and peaches for which the Pacific Coast states are now famous for.
Today, the Wight family continues the tradition of farming fruit, selling much of the grapes to prestigious wineries in the Napa Valley, but also making their own Lewelling Vineyards wines and reserving the Les Ivrettes block for Trivium. The Lewelling Vineyards, a total of about 90 acres, goes up to the western foothills. The vines are planted on well-draining Cortina soils, excellent for concentrated cabernet sauvignon. Even away from the foothills, the sub-soils are rocky, reflecting the changing course of the Sulphur Creek watershed over the millennia.
The 2007 Trivium Les Ivrettes Vineyard St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon ($65, 400 cases) is a classic Napa Valley 100% cabernet sauvignon, with pure varietal character, aged 20 months in 71% new oak. The wine is an extraordinary value given the vineyard and winemaking.