Wine and Photographs: Singer Cellars Scores High
By Alex Novak
Wine connoisseur and serious wine collector/drinker
Publisher of the E-Photo Newsletter
President of the International Photography Wine Club
"As some of my long-time readers and friends know, I am a bit of a wine buff and have
occasionally added wine tasting notes to my newsletters. Well this article on wine will
combine that subject with photography.
As fellow photography dealers, the Singers are following in the wine footsteps of one
other photographer dealer, Sean Thackery, whose California Syrahs often get nose-bleed
high scores. Barry and Gretchen Singer are themselves making stunning wines from Bordeaux
blends and their individual components under a label of their own name, Singer Cellars.
These hedonistic, yet elegant wines will clean out any cobwebs left over from any lesser
bottles that you might have drunk recently, and leave you, as my cousin told me at our
tasting of the Singers' wines 'begging for more at the end.'
Sorry, but this is not wine for spitting politely, but for savoring, swallowing and asking
for more...much more. The wines are sourced from some top vineyards in Napa, although the
Singers live in Petaluma in Sonoma. The 2009 vintage is the first official one that the
Singers are making for sale, although they have been making wine for their personal use
since 2004. Having been one of those lucky few to share bottles with the Singers from time
to time, I can assure you that the wines are not only first-rate, but hold up very well
Barry sent out a group of his 2009's for this article with the admonition to open and
decant for about an hour or more. We didn't do that because frankly they were so luscious
to begin with, although I did try them again about an hour later and even a couple the
next day. No worries: they were drinking well no matter how much (or little) time you gave
them. That was not the case for some of the Singer's earlier vintages, which required
decanting to open up the full potential, but the 2009 vintage in California is a very
forward albeit big one.
The Singers' Bordeaux-styled blend, the Song, is made up of 80% Napa
Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 4% Cab Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. This is a big wine with
broad shoulders and very good length. A touch of brown sugar on the nose. This wine came
across as sweeter and fuller than most of the others. If you want to find fault with
this superb wine, you might say the mid-palate isn't the strongest, but this wine is
very well structured and has elegant reserve. The next day it was still holding up
extremely well, but the acidity was just a bit more noticeable. It was a solid 93 point
wine, and at the tasting was my personal favorite by a hair over the Petite Verdot.
The Singers homage to Cheval Blanc, the 2009 Rhapsody was, as my cousin Bill called it
simply "fabulous". It had a huge nose, spicy with great dark fruits. It was very forward
and a hedonist's drinking pleasure, especially as it opened up. While I only gave it 92
points at our dinner tasting, this one only seemed to get better the next day. And I had
a second bottle that was so complete and complex that I have to raise the score to a solid
93 with the potential for an even higher score eventually. This seems to be the one this
year that could go for long time to come."
"Hi Barry, Happy New Year to you and Gretchen. I just wanted to let you know
that I'm in Naples now with my kids and sub-kids and we've been drinking your wine every night. It has
been fabulous, the kids have raved about it and the Cab was as good as any I've ever drank. Thanks so much
and keep me on your list."
Our discussion got around to wine and I brought out (gently) your two bottles and it was decided by unanimous vote to open the Singer Harmony
Cabernet Sauvignon. I brought out the flyer you enclosed which describes the wine, and everyone brightened up and wanted to taste it. Wait.
It says "Decant for 45 minutes" so we all timed the decanting, chatting and listening to music and generally having a good time. As the 45 minutes
came to an end, someone started a countdown, "10...9...8...and of course it got sillier and louder as we got to the end. The wine lived up to
its promise. Even my husband, with the doctor's permission, had half a glass. What a lovely wine! You have a fan club here in
"Barry and Gretchen, this is a superb vintage ('08 Reserve Merlot).
"Barry, just got back to the most cool wine decanter. Thank you. I just
am not very keen on the fancy ones that everyone has. This is tops. I opened a bottle of Symphony 07
to celebrate the new stocks arrival. It was cracking. Congratulations again on a
"I had two glasses of your Cabernet last night and it is excellent!
It is pressure sealed and I will finish the bottle tonight. Hurry up cocktail hour!"