Skip to main content

Neyers Vineyards Bruce's Journal

Tasting the 2020 Left Bank Red

By Bruce Neyers

Saturday 6th January, 2024


Dinner with Liz – The 2023 Vintage: So good even the acorns were perfect


Our oldest daughter Liz lives next door to us, and she came over for dinner last week. Her husband is a fireman for the Saint Helena Fire Department, so his job has irregular hours. Hearing from her in the afternoon to see if there’s room at the dinner table for her and our two grandsons is a welcome part of family life for Barbara and me. I use the opportunity for some wine education as Liz is an enthusiastic wine buff. That night was wet and chilly so Barbara was making her homemade Beef and Vegetable soup. I had a bottle of 2020 Left Bank Red that I wanted to taste alongside a recently arrived bottle of 2020 red Bordeaux, a wine of similar blend, from St. Julien in the Médoc.


Our Left Bank Red was another great idea from Tadeo. He proposed we make a wine from two low-elevation vineyards on our ranch — one Merlot and the other Cabernet Sauvignon — both of which are on the left bank of Conn Creek as it passes through our property on the way to Lake Hennessey. The soil there is marked by a deep gravel deposit, so the wines from those two blocks are strikingly different from the wines we make from our other vineyards planted on soil thick with Basalt. In 2014 we began to keep the two sites separate. The 2020 Left Bank Red that night was impressive, combining exotic fruit with a soft texture and attractive minerality. I explained to Liz how most of the wines from St. Julien in Bordeaux are also planted on gravelly soil so we wanted to look for similarities in the two bottlings. We found several, then sat down to eat our hearty soup.


I was impressed watching Liz spend time examining each wine. It was even more gratifying to watch her enjoy Barbara’s homemade soup though, as she moved back and forth between the two wines. I did the same, thrilled with how good the 2020 Neyers Left Bank Red tasted, and delighted with the French wine, knowing that I have 11 more opportunities to enjoy it in the future. I’m looking forward to repeating this tasting again soon. Barbara gave me her Vegetable Soup Recipe, and it’s included here, so you might want to try your own version of a comparative wine tasting while enjoying it. I’m happy to make some wine suggestions, but you probably already have enough of your own.


Barbara and I celebrated our first Napa Valley harvest in 1972, making vintage 2023 our 51st. It was a wonderful year to reach a milestone like this, as 2023 looks have produced some of the best wines of my career. The grapes were especially beautiful — perfectly shaped clusters, with bright red hues. The individual berries were firm, with completely ripened interiors. The juice had an immediately attractive combination of aroma and flavor, and the balance between fruit and acidity was at a level I haven’t seen since 1975. It looks to be a simply remarkable year in the Napa Valley. This past growing season was a banner year for most everything else that grows on our property, from figs to pears, from apples to persimmons. Even the acorns were the most plentiful and largest we’ve ever seen. Slowing down on our country road to watch the squirrels load up on them became part of my drive to work every morning.


Vegetable Beef Soup


  • ½ pound rib eye steak
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ears fresh corn on the cob, husked
  • 2 stalks celery, washed and sliced in ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced in ¼-inch pieces
  • Handful of green beans cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 20 pearl onions, cooked and peeled
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 3 cups orecchiette pasta
  • Diamond Crystal Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper


  1. Remove the corn from the cob by holding it upright and slicing down along the cob. Set the corn kernels aside
  2. Sauté the rib eye steak in the olive oil until cooked, preferably medium-rare. Set aside
  3. Cook the orecchiette pasta in the beef broth until about halfway done and still firm
  4. Add the beans, celery, and carrots, and cook until the vegetables have softened. The pasta should also be cooked through at this point
  5. While the pasta and vegetables are cooking, shred the steak into bite-size pieces and add to the soup
  6. Add the pearl onions and corn kernels to the soup
  7. Heat the soup before serving.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on November 2, the day of the final picking at our Conn Valley Ranch. Photo by Liz Neyers Mix

Merlot grapes from the parcel we call Pump Block, about to be part of the wondrous 2023 harvest.
Photo courtesy of Liz Neyers Mix

Barbara’s celebrated vegetable beef soup, paired with a glass of 2020 Left Bank Red, and a crusty baguette from our local bakery.