In late 2007, Ray hosted Anthony Gismondi of Wine Access for a vertical tasting of every single Cabernet Sauvignon the winery has made since the first vintage in 1988. Here are their notes on the wines:
"Modern Signorello, with its dusty aromas of pepper, tobacco and mocha coffee over a core of blueberry/blackberry fruit. Lean by Napa standards, but with balance, finesse and supple tannins. It's a terrific cabernet with Euro sensibilities. Only 50 per cent new French oak is used today."
"Signorello's low-yielding cabernet grapes - less than two tons to the acre - were the key to transforming this harvest. Cedar, blackcurrant and vanilla mix with supple fine-grained tannins - some of the softest we've seen - and chocolate, cassis jam, mocha flavours. "
"The '02 is all about big colour, weight and density contained in an elegant package. Finesse-over-form frees its cedar, spice and cherry-chocolate flavours to really capture your palate. One of the best versions we've tasted. "
"Dry peppery, saddle leather, black berry jam, cardamom notes mix with dusty chocolate. Supple but grainy tannins with black berry jam, mocha vanilla flavours. Needs time to fully integrate."
"It's not a monster red, but it has reasonable depth given the vintage. Look for black fruit and coffee, mocha flavours, with fine-grained tannins and smoky oak in the aftertaste. "
"Perhaps the most Euro of all the vintages. Lean textures mix with ripe-ish fruit and a dry finish. Better with food now."
"Winemaker Pierre Birebent's first vintage was de-juiced to beef up the flavours after a severe thinning in the vineyard. A subtle shift in tannin management can be detected in its fine-grained textures and earthy, plum, herbal flavours. One of the best from a difficult year. "
"The flavours are of chunky cassis, almost blueberry, fruit. This is the winery's signature wine and, in this generous year, its dense, powerful, fruity style soars. Well-structured and balanced, it will keep for years yet."
"Impressive effort, with more sheen and gloss than any previous year. Ripe, but with fine acidity and balance, and just a hint of that Napa ripe fruit and vanilla. Drink now."
"The bottle at tasting was corked. "
"The first "estate" offering gets more French oak, and it was good timing given the big vintage. Delicious styling here, with finesse and fruit triumphing over alcohol and weight."
"Another look into the Signorello mantra of finesse of brute fruit. Bright acidity, ripe fruit and medium-weight dry-ish tannins. Solid, ready-to-drink Napa Valley cabernet."
"Much tighter, acidic style here. Awkward entry and mid-palate. A bit out of synch with the rest of the vertical."
"More aromatic and lively, with delicious black fruit and cassis flavours. Delicious, full-bodied California cabernet of terrific quality."
"The first year of bigger, richer, tannins, but without the alcohol and weight of some of its contemporaries. The finish reveals more spice and licorice and that Euro/Signorello dryness."
"Much darker colour and more intense version of the '88, but still shows the early footprints of attention to detail and the push toward a European sensibility."
"The first unrefined and unfiltered Signorello cab was labelled Founder's Reserve, a label used through 1996. Now lean, with ripe black fruit flavours. Still in amazing shape. Ripe Napa fruit gracefully near its end."
Ray Signorello Jr. began his journey as winemaker and vineyard owner in the Napa Valley during the mid 1980's. Ray, born in San Francisco, California, moved to Vancouver, Canada where the Signorello family continues to maintain a home. Ray divides his time between Napa, San Francisco, Vancouver and business related travel.
Ray's father, Ray Sr., initiated the vineyard project during the mid 1970's by purchasing the 100-acre estate located on the Silverado Trail in the beautiful Napa Valley. Ray Sr. worked side by side with Ray Jr., establishing the winery's reputation for excellence until his passing in the fall of 1998.
"I have recently opened up some of our library wines, please find enclosed some of my personal tasting notes that may help you decide to pull one of these bottles out of your cellar. Enjoy!"