This is based on wines provided to me by the winery or organization acting on their behalf.



2008 Jaffe Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Metamorphosis

2009 Jaffe Estate Transformation






‘It’s comforting to know that if a giant meteor is ever headed our way, the Jaffes can not only warn us, they can pour us a nice glass of wine while we wait for impact’




Gary and Pam Jaffe

Gary Jaffe’s wine journey started in 1980 when he took a vacation from the family’s insurance business to visit St. Helena.  During the visit, Gary came to a revelation, “I decided I’d live here one day,” he said.  Monthly visits to the area again opened his eyes; he could buy some land for what he was spending on hotels.


Gary eventually purchased 8 acres on Pritchard Hill above LakeHennessey.  This gave Gary a place for a cabin and to set up a telescope to watch the stars.  A few years later, he doubled his land holdings and looked to plant grapes.  In 1991, reality set in when it was estimated it would cost $100,000 per acre to plant grapes on the rocky site.


Around this same time, Gary took a class on the art of collecting at UCLA where he met his future wife, Pam.  “I decided to collect her,” he quipped. “She’s my kind of art.”


Gary and Pam moved to the valley in 1999, with the addition of twin girls into their lives, the distance to town began to diminish the appeal of living at the solitary mountain site.


This led Gary and Pam to fine a house on 3 acres of land at the southern edge of the St. Helena appellation, at the edge of the Rutherford Bench.  The site was home to a vineyard with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that had been planted in the 1970s.  After renovating the house and added an observatory that housed a 16-inch aperture optical telescope, it was time to start the next chapter in their lives…





The Winery

Jaffe Estate Winery produces two estate-grown, relatively low alcohol wines, Transformation is a Bordeaux style blend and Metamorphosis is a Cabernet Sauvignon.  2005 marked the first vintage to be released.  The couple was proud when their wines were added to the highly selective list at Auberge du Soleil.


Jaffe Estate wines are on the wine list at several restaurants in the valley.  The wines are also available direct from the winery by clicking here.




The winery has a free newsletter and “The Celestial Set” Wine Club.


For more information on Jaffe Estate, you can visit their website, or find them on Twitter or Facebook.




The Line up

Here are the wines for this tasting:

Jaffe Estate Line-up




2008 Jaffe Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Metamorphosis – SRP $68

Metamorphosis is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate vineyard in the St. Helena appellation.


The wine is 13.8% alcohol and is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to deep ruby red color.  The outstanding nose has cassis, baking spices, tobacco, cedar, licorice, cocoa powder, stony minerals, violets, dried herbs and a touch of dry earth.  This has medium body, moderate to full tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate this is a restrained and nicely nuanced wine with no over the top ripeness or layers of oak.  The finish has nice length and balance but at this time the tannins get a bit chalky and course.  Give this one another year or two in the cellar and enjoy over the next decade.  This has great potential.  (93 pts)

2008 Jaffe Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Metamorphosis

2008 Jaffe Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Metamorphosis



2009 Jaffe Estate Transformation – SRP $68

Transformation is a blend 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot from the estate’s vineyard in St. Helena.


The wine has an alcohol level of 14.5%.  The bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright red to ruby color.  With some air, the initially slightly shy nose has cherries, cassis, warm baking spices, cedar, stony minerals, licorice and scorched earth.  This has medium body, moderate ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the up front fruit slowly adds spices, minerals and a touch of earthiness.  The rich and smooth finish has nice length with a floral note entering the picture.  This has very nice balance and could age several years but is delicious today.  (92 pts)

2009 Jaffe Estate Transformation

2009 Jaffe Estate Transformation



Closing thoughts

It was refreshing to sample a couple of wines from the Napa Valley with retrained levels of alcohol.  If you missed it above, the 2008 Metamorphosis clocked in at 13.8%.


Even though the Transformation is a year younger, it was more open and ready for consumption.  If I had both of these wines in my cellar, I’d consume the 2009 Transformation and save the 2008 Metamorphosis for down the road.  That said, both wines would be outstanding even today, if served with a moist, juicy cut of beef.




Napa Valley Film Festival

Are you interested in attending the Napa Valley Film Festival?  The festival runs from November 13 through 17.


Oh, almost forgot, how does attending the event for free sound?  To celebrate being a sponsor of the event, Benchmark Wine Group is giving away a very nice package to one lucky person.  Enter by October 31st for your chance to win.


The Napa-based company is offering one lucky winner two Festival Passes to the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), worth a $500 value; two private invitations to the Benchmark Opening Night VIP kick-off party; and exclusive access to the sneak preview screening of ‘August: Osage County’, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.


Benchmark Wine Group will be hosting an exclusive Opening Night VIP kick-off party on Wednesday, November 13 and a winemaker tasting with Todd Alexander of Bryant and Bettina on Friday, November 15.  NVFF Patrons and special guests will be invited to join Benchmark Wine Group at the Michael Holmes Gallery at Riverfront, 606 Main Street, from 8 pm to 10 pm Wednesday to launch the week’s festivities.  Every guest Wednesday will be entered into a raffle for a chance to buy a bottle of 2001 Château Haut-Brion for $1; taste magnums of 1983 Pétrus, 1966 Château Margaux, and 2003 Diamond Creek; and enjoy food catered by Morimoto Napa.


For more information, click here.


To view the official rules and to enter, click here.


A video about the event from my bud, Amy Payne, is available by clicking here.




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


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This is original to  Copyright 2013 Cliff’s Wine Picks.

All rights reserved.




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Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.