She says: To celebrate his birthday recently, we opened a bottle he’d been holding in his locker for close to two decades – a 1990 Girard Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa. I consider this a “score!”
He says: This cab was really wonderful. It had great dark fruits, terrific balance and a smooth and supple finish. It was tasting fantastic – right at its peak – I give it an 18. I wish I had more in my locker. I do have a ’91 Girard Cabernet so I’ll have to pop that open soon. A bit of history on Girard. Girard Winery was started by Stephen A. Girard, Jr. a former executive with Kaiser Corp.
She says: Don’t you wish you’d been there for that career transition? ”Let’s see – medical conglomerate or wine industry? Hmmm… medical conglomerate or wine industry… wait, don’t tell me… I’m thinking… “
He says: The winery was based in Oakville, on the Oakville Crossroad near the Silverado Trail. According to an interview he gave to Jim Wood of the SF Examiner in 1995, Girard bought the vineyard in ’74 and was selling grapes to other producers for their reserve wines and decided to create a winery. “I got my sisters and my dad together, got them drunk and made my proposal,” he said in the interview. Isn’t that great? He added that they wanted his dad to run it, but his dad kept working so he ended up running the winery himself.
Well, Stephen wasn’t the winemaker, but he hired great winemakers, had wonderful grapes from his estate to work with and produced great wines. Girard made wonderful cabs, chards and other wines (I remember enjoying a great Chenin Blanc in the tasting room once) and had a tremendous reputation in the ‘80s and ‘90s as kind of a boutique winery. I say “was,” “made” and “had” because in the mid 90s the winery was bought out and renamed Rudd Estate. Rudd did a massive overhaul of the winery and vineyards and discontinued the Girard label a few years later, which was a real shame because Girard produced some truly excellent wines. I haven’t heard much about Rudd Estate since their purchase and, sadly, Stephen Girard died in 2004. There is a Girard label out now, but it is produced by Patrick Roney (formerly of Ch. St. Jean and Kunde).
So if you’re rooting around a wine store and come across a bottle of Girard cab from the ‘80s or ‘90s, consider getting it. You may have found a true gem.
Here’s a link to the Girard Winery website.