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2015 Anthem Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard St. Helena Napa Valley
Drought year ripe and as complex as its famous vineyard promises, this Cabernet is nevertheless a finely balanced dinner wine. The nose offers a luxuriant mix of black raspberry, dark boysenberry, black cherry, blueberry compote, violet, Victorian toffee, cedar, mocha, sweet tobacco leaf and laurel scents. On the palate, it is at once gutsy, gripping, palate-coating and full of blustery fruit and spice. The black cherry, violet and licorice root flavors take center stage, with a core of blueberry and blackberry close behind: these fruit notes seeming a veneer above a rich background of cedar, mace, toffee, mocha, vanilla, dark pipe tobacco and dried herbs. If five years or more from its full maturity, this grand wine’s juiciness and balance make drinking it a satisfying “guilty pleasure” right now. 165 cases made.
2014 Dana Estate Cabernet Sauvignon “Vaso” Napa Valley
A picture of Bordeaux-esque elegance and style, this lovely yet concentrated Cabernet fans-out aromas of baked dark cherry, red currant, red plum galette, star anise, baking-spice, toffee and laurel. These elements are creamy yet focused on the palate, where they are carried as a sleek, tongue-coating wave toward a gutsy, lingering finish. The lasting memory is of dark cherries, plums, red currant jam and star anise bathed in lavish oak tones and loads of sweet-savory spice. Supple and deliciously expressive right now, it should grow ever more so over the next three to six years. 300 cases produced.
2016 Detert Cabernet Franc (To Kalon Vineyard) Oakville Napa Valley
Detert is famously among Napa’s best Cab Francs and this one is a knockout. The nose is a melange of dark cherry, blueberry, Cassis, Mr. Lincoln rose, vanilla, cinnamon stick, baking-spice, sweet dark tobacco and dried herbs: all poised above a firm core of black cherry. It is zesty, bright, focused, appropriately grippy, yet flavor-laden on the palate, where notes of bitter chocolate, bouillon, dark pipe tobacco, sweet vanilla, baking-spice, dried herbs and graphite support the rush of red and blue fruits. Lingering and pleasure-packed now, it wants four or five more years of cellar-time to reveal all of its secrets. 250 cases produced.
2016 Peirson Meyer Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Just a brief airing brings the beauty of this terrific Cab to the forefront, while its dinner-perfect style personifies Napa’s brilliant 2016 vintage. The nose is a sweet-natured perfume of focused blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, Cassis, dark rose, violet, laurel, cedar, nutmeg, vanilla, baking-spice and tobacco scents. It is wonderfully supple on the palate, where zesty, focused, forthcoming flavors smother the wine’s underlying tannins. The finish is a juicy, elegantly rich, lingering replication of all that the aromas have promised. Beautifully satisfying now, it wants four more years to reach perfection. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 140 cases produced, entirely from Calistoga’s Kenefick Ranch.
2014 Revenant Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
The aromas of this forthcoming, generous Cabernet are richly spicy and brightly fruity. In the nose, scents of Italian Maraschino cherry, red boysenberry, red currant and blood orange zest lead toward a deeper core of Creme de Cassis: these elements finding impressive harmony with notes of baking-spice, sweet tobacco leaf, laurel and dried sage. Things are weightier than expected on the palate, yet just as bright and forthcoming, and the rich fruit, sweet-savory spice and herbal accents easily overcome the wine’s polished tannins. All these flavors stay focused and sweet-natured through a generous, lingering finish. Enjoy it now, or see what magic three years or more of cellar-time can deliver. Blended with 11% Merlot & 6% Cabernet Franc. 143 cases made.
2016 Yao Ming Cabernet Sauvignon “Yao Ming” Napa Valley
Seemingly well-evolved and certainly immediately attractive, this Cabernet’s aromas and the flavors that follow are an expressive, focused layering of black cherry, Cassis, blackberry, blueberry, violet, cola, licorice root, dark chocolate, leather, clove, tobacco and graphite. If notably supple in the mouth, it is firmed by polished tannins, fruit zest and mineral undercurrents which combine to create a food-friendly balance. Likely as it is to be better with a few years in the cellar, early drinkability may result in earlier consumption for this one. Blended with 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot & 2% Petite Verdot. 2832 cases produced.
2015 Ad Vivum Cabernet Sauvignon Sleeping Lady Vineyard Yountville Napa Valley
This stunning 2015 Cab delivers the beauty hoped for in a great year, while evading the awkwardness that can blunt wines of this vintage. The nose is a hint tight, yet is deep, elegant and packed with brightly focused pomegranate, sour red cherry, cranberry sauce, peppercorn, toasted grain, vanilla, sweet tobacco leaf and dried sage scents. It proves large-scale, but classy on the palate, where sour cherry, pomegranate and blueberry flavors dominate while finding harmony with sweet-savory undercurrents of tobacco, vanilla and dried herbs. The finish is ultra-long if not yet dramatic, and it will likely take three or four years for this wine’s full loveliness to be revealed. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 175 cases made.
2016 Arietta “Quartet” Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley
If already wonderfully satisfying, this wine can only get better. The nose is a focused, richly textured, Bordeaux-esque perfume of Cassis, black cherry, black raspberry, blueberry, violet, grilled black fig, cola, cedar, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, dark chocolate, licorice root, leather, black olive and damp forest scents. There are tannins to note on the palate, but also loads of sweet-natured fruit that mirrors the aromas. The texture is supple and the balance dinner-worthy, while the finish is lingering and expressive. Expect several more years of growth and years of pleasure after that. A blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc & 1% Petite Verdot. 1400 cases made.
2013 Cufflinks Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Napa Valley
This Cabernet accurately represents both its mountain appellation and its classically structured vintage. The nose is a tightly-focused medley of red and black currant, black raspberry, blueberry, sour red cherry and black cherry fruits, made deeper by clove, leather, cedar, vanilla, tobacconist-shop spice, peppercorn and forest earth accents. It is lean and Bordeaux-like in mouth-feel, with firming tannins, quiet zest and long-lasting flavors that closely mirror the nose, but with a subtle slant toward the darker end of the fruit spectrum. A classy companion to sauces meats, it will grow more sweet-natured and versatile over the next four or five years and beyond. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 250 cases produced.
2016 Drinkward Peschon Cabernet Sauvignon “Entre Deux Mères” Napa Valley
This opulent Cab opens with richly fruity, darkly savory scents of blueberry, dark plum, mulberry, dark cherry cobbler, bitter chocolate, sandalwood, cedar, vanilla, clove, nutmeg and five-spice, with a hint of laurel in reserve. It is as rich as expected on the palate, where dark boysenberry, black cherry, black currant, blueberry and dark plum are wrapped in a blanket of sweet-savory and herbal flavors that echo the nose. Firmer and grippier than expected, the lingering finish shows a more classic tannic structure than the mid-palate, which suggests that the wine’s current juiciness may morph with age into a more racy and elegant style. Enjoy it now, or wait to see how elegant it becomes. 610 cases made.
2016 Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon Rock Cairn Vineyard Oakville Napa Valley
Already the prettiest wine in memory from this long established vineyard, this 2016 Cabernet is textbook Oakville. The nose is brimming with focused, exquisitely graceful yet concentrated black and red cherry, black and red currant, blueberry-blackberry compote, violet, star anise, sweet tobacco, vanilla, clove and baking-spice scents. Those elements are perfectly replicated in the mouth, where deep, wonderfully rich, delightfully supple flavors jump-forth to almost entirely submerge a significant spine of tannin. If outright glorious in four years, it is really hard to ignore right now. 988 cases produced.
2016 White Rock Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Napa Valley
Rich and creamy to the nose, this Cabernet opens with highlights of blueberry, violet and Mr. Lincoln rose above a core of ripe dark cherry, toffee, graphite and dark forest earth. It is bolder and grippier on the palate, where mineral undercurrents join with tannin to stiffen the mouth-feel. In the mouth, flavors of red current, red plum, Cassis, blackberry, leather and tobacco are accented by notes of violet and rose. The finish is lingering and firmly structured, with a sappy-sinewy texture in support of the fruit. It will be terrific now with Prime Rib and the like, but will get better for six years and possibly well beyond. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. 380 cases made.
2016 Bell Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserve” Napa Valley
Stylish, dark, juicy and notably youthful, the nose of this lovely bottling weaves aromas of black cherry, blackberry, red and black currant, sweet vanilla, dark toffee, baking-spice, laurel and dark tobacco into a beautiful tapestry. It is delightfully fruit-forward on the palate, where Amarena cherry jam, dried cranberry, red currant, blueberry, violet, rose petal jelly, dried sage and laurel, vanilla, tobacco leaf, forest floor-spice, Oolong tea and dark tobacco hold a delicious, lingering harmony. The wine’s tannins make their appearance at the finish, where they firm and tighten the mouth-feel, so despite its notable early appeal, this beauty will yet improve for several more years. 800 cases made.
2016 Boeschen Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” St Helena Napa Valley
Pure, focused, true to its vineyard and grape variety and wonderfully elegant, this is much the prettiest Boeschen Cab yet released. The nose is a rich medley of blueberry, mulberry, dark cherry, black currant, dark plum, violet and grilled fig scents that find a deft harmony with chalky mineral contrasts and a sweet-natured layering of nutmeg, mace, baking-spice, vanilla toffee and tobacco leaf. It is gutsy, if sleek in texture and a bit youthfully reserved in the mouth, where flavors of dark cherry, blueberry, black plum, Cassis, grilled fig, star anise, Victorian toffee, dried sage and laurel are firmed by harder mineral notes and polished tannins. Quite long and already delicious, it will grow in stature and appeal over the next five years and likely well beyond. 450 cases produced.
2015 Buoncristiani “OPC” Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley
The fruit of this wonderfully harmonious wine stays ever in the forefront, from its energetic opening perfume to an ultra long, satisfying finish. The aromas and the flavors that follow are a bright mix of red raspberry, red currant, crab apple syrup, grenadine, Cassis, violet, rose, vanilla, clove, laurel and peppercorn. The tannins are understated and the texture polished, and additional flavors of dried orange, grilled fig, tobacco and graphite chime-in at the end. A pleasure to enjoy now, it should grow in depth and charm over the next several years. A blend of Cabernet, Syrah, Malbec and Merlot, 1100 cases produced.
2014 Foley Johnson Meritage Rutherford Napa Valley
Elegantly rich, fruit-forward and focused, the aromas of this wine express its Rutherford appellation vividly: fanning-out as a seductive medley of Italian Maraschino cherry, black cherry, Cassis, blackberry, blueberry, violet, grilled fig, licorice root, sandalwood, baking spices, sweet tobacco, cedar, clove and nutmeg. It is as forthcoming and pretty as expected on the palate, where the texture is sleek, the tannins polished and the fruit presence at center stage. The finish is long and supple, with subtle mineral undercurrents behind a push of fruit and sweet-savory spice. Expect another three years of growth, but don’t be afraid to appreciate its beauty now. 2220 cases produced.
2016 Longwood Estate Cabernet Sauvignon “Family Reserve” Napa Valley
Structured, gutsy, complex and focused, this is a Cabernet with a future. The aromas are a densely packed mix of Cassis, black cherry, black raspberry, blueberry and violet, tied to sweet-savory scents of licorice root, baking-spice, clove, cedar, leather and tobacco. Those elements are as forthcoming on the palate, where flavors of mocha and black fig add further richness. On the palate, the wine’s underlying tannin kicks in, and stays evident through the lingering finish, as a reminder that this is a young, if already flavorful bottling. Expect four or fine years of steady growth and years of pleasure beyond. 200 cases produced.
2014 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Mt Veeder Napa Valley
Classically Mt. Veeder in personality and the best Mayacamas Cabernet in recent memory, this already gorgeous wine has a decade of growth ahead. The nose is drenched in juicy scents of Amarena cherry, red currant, Pomegranate syrup and orange-cranberry relish, which marry others of red rose petal, cedar, briar and vanilla toffee. Concentrated fruit energy is the dominant impression in the mouth, where tannic grip, fruit zest, mineral undercurrents and dried herbal hints make their presence known. The finish is long and firm, but polished, so dinner-service is already a pleasurable possibility. Blended with 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Merlot, 4396 cases made.
2016 Cade Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Napa Valley
This is a deep, concentrated, focused Cabernet that offers scents of black currant, blackberry, blueberry, black cherry, clove, cedar, dark pipe tobacco, black tea, peppery bouillon and a hint of licorice root. It is both zesty and gripping on the palate, so the texture seems a bit lean despite all the richness and body. The mouth-feel is supple however and the flavors fully emerge as a polished melange of black cherry, blackberry, Cassis, cedar, clove, leather, bay leaf, black tea, tobacco and licorice root. The finish is very long, if a bit over-rich in oak at this stage. Certain to improve for six to ten years and live twenty at least, it is quite pleasurable now, if judiciously aired. Blended with 11% Merlot, 7% Malbec and 5% Petite Verdot, 1576 cases produced.
2014 Malk Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Stags Leap District Napa Valley
Deep, juicy, richly savory and drenched in fruit, this Cab is gorgeous at first scent and at first sip. The nose is a plush medley of focused black cherry, sour cherry, dark boysenberry, Cassis, licorice root, Victorian toffee, peppercorn, bouillon and dark tobacco aromas. Black cherry, Italian Maraschino cherry, Cassis, black raspberry, cinnamon “red hots”, toffee, coffee bean, bouillon and tobacco flavors decorate the palate, where youthful zest and tannnic grip are evident, yet prove no match for the lingering cascade of fruit and spice. Both grand in scale and food-worthy, this already delicious wine will certainly improve for five more years. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 445 cases produced.
2015 Peirson Meyer “Maquette” Proprietary Red Wine Calistoga Napa Valley
This pretty Meritage has a big future. The nose is a complex if youthfully reserved medley of black raspberry, black cherry, blueberry, Cassis, black fig, dark rose, violet, cola, star anise, cedar and vanilla scents. Youthful zest and some tannic grip bring firmness to an otherwise polished mouth-feel, where the aromatic profile is well replicated, but with more spice and an emerging core of wild cherry and red currant. The finish is showy, as there is a big push of red plum, sour red cherry, red currant, pomegranate, star anise, date, sweet tobacco and peppercorn at the end. Expect this classy, flavorful bottling to improve significantly over the next five years. A blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot & 20% Cabernet Franc, from the Kenefick Ranch, 350 cases made.
2014 Rocca Cabernet Sauvignon Grigsby Vineyard Yountville Napa Valley
The supple ripeness of 2014 is very evident on this opulent bottling and that goes a long way to softening the Grigsby Vineyard’s typically severe tannins. The nose is juicy-rich and, as always, herbal-mineral accented: yet it’s dominated by lavish scents of blackberry coulis, blueberry pie, black raspberry jam, dark sour cherry, crushed dry red rose and violet: this all immersed in a bath of bouillon, sweet vanilla, dark pipe tobacco, dried sage, bay leaf and cedar over strong charcoal-graphite minerality. It proves luxuriously textured and flavor-packed in the mouth, where the tannins bring a hard dryness to a lingering finish that is expressive of cherry, dark berry, fig, cola, peppercorn and herbal spice. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1020 cases made.
2015 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon “Lyndenhurst” Napa Valley
Predominantly from Spottswoode’s intense Estate vineyard, but blended with some purchased fruit to provide earlier enjoyment, this darkly rich wine offers aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, blueberry, Cassis, grilled black fig, violet, dark rose, cedar, clove, tobacco, leather, graphite and dark forest earth. It is rich and weighty on the palate, yet suave and polished in texture, so the plush fruit and warm spices are palate-coating yet show little roughness despite their youth. The finish is lingering and the flavors never less than full, and current enjoyment is a true option. Expect five years or so of positive evolution. Blended with 12% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petite Verdot, 2000 cases produced.
2014 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Leonardini Vineyard St Helena Napa Valley
A terrific example of its vineyard and great vintage, this juicy-rich yet soft-edged Cab offers scents of Italian Maraschino cherry, black cherry, black currant, dark boysenberry, sweet dark pipe tobacco, toffee, vanilla, Kalamata olive, black tea and star anise. On the palate the vineyard’s characteristic tannic grip is pushed rearward by a plush wave of fruit and sweet-savory spice. The finishing fruit and spice notes are a focused, slightly more coiled mirror of the nose, which suggests that this already very delicious wine will have much more to reveal to those with patience to hide some in the cellar for five years or so. 630 cases produced.
2016 Addax Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley
This two vineyard marriage is nearly perfect as a showcase for the merits of each, The deeply sophisticated nose opens with scents of iron ore-like minerality, sweet baking-spice, dark tobacco, espresso, cedar, licorice root, dried herbs and graphite, in support of sweet-natured fruit notes of dark cherry, Italian Maraschino cherry, red and black currant, dried red plum, pomegranate syrup and dark berry compote. In the mouth it proves sleek yet palate-coating, quietly zesty, mineral laced, gripping yet polished and wonderfully racy on its way toward a super-long finish. The flavor combination is truly gorgeous, as the finish already replicates much of the beauty the aromas promise. Great now with sauced or grilled dark meats, it will be much more so after another five years. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon & 35% Cabernet Franc. Fruit sourced from the Tench and Sugarloaf Vineyards. 100 cases produced.
2015 Grimm’s Bluff Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
Almost juicy rich, the nose of this delicious Cabernet pours focused black cherry, black raspberry, Cassis, black plum, violet, crushed red rose, laurel, cedar, clove and baking-spice scents over a background of dark chocolate. Licorice root, root beer bark, plum galette, leather, sandalwood, star anise and a hint of orange zest join the party on the palate, where zest and polished tannins reign-in the opulence to create a lingering, dinner-friendly impression. Likely eighteen months or more from its full expression, it is already a lovely dining companion. 175 cases produced.
2012 Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Trailside Vineyard Rutherford Napa Valley
This Rutherford Cab brings us a brilliant portrait of both a terrific property and classic winemaking. The nose is at once forthcoming and gorgeously layered, delivering beautifully evolved scents of red berries and mocha (a signature of this vineyard) tied to deep black cherry, Cassis, sweet red plum, licorice root, coffee toffee, cinnamon stick, date molasses, cedar, leather, mace and other baking spices. It is rich in texture and just as packed with fruit and spice on the palate, which push aside any intrusion from the an otherwise notable tannic spine. The finish: generous, classy and lingering, follows the path of the aromas, but with a big burst of cherry and boysenberry at the end. Terrific now, it is five years from its best. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, Certified Organic.
2013 Lawer Cabernet Sauvignon (Erba Vineyard-Atlas Peak) Napa Valley
The aromas of this rich young Cabernet are a bit reticent, but the flavors are more forthcoming and are a fine illustration of the Atlas Peak personality. It is firm in texture and a hint youthfully rustic, with rich tannic underpinnings to support its layering of black currant, black cherry, dry red cherry, black raspberry, grilled black fig, coffee, cedar, tobacco, dark chocolate, black tea, peppercorn, mint, leather, graphite and charcoal flavors. The finish is gutsy, and those deep flavors linger. Enjoy it now with a dark Winter roast, or watch several years of steady growth in your cellar. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 454 cases made.
2015 Pine & Brown Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Napa Valley
Showcasing the darker, richer side of Rutherford’s personality, this bottling suggests near-heady ripeness in its aromas of grilled black fig, black currant, black raspberry, black cherry jam, blueberry compote, clove, vanilla, bitter chocolate, black tea, cedar, forest earth and graphite. It proves as plush and tongue-coating as expected on the palate, yet tannic structure and a hint of quiet zest step in to bring a more dinner-worthy balance to lingering flavors that are a mirror of the wine’s aromatic display. It should grow rounder, mellower and more elegant over the next five years and beyond. 56 cases produced.
2014 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Millennium MM Vineyard Rutherford Napa Valley
Rich, juicy, concentrated and fruit-dominant, the nose of this textbook “Rutherford” Cab poises notes of blackberry, dark plum, black cherry, violet and black fig above counterpoints of bitter chocolate, dark tobacco, cola, clove, root beer bark, date sugar and vanilla. Rich body, piquant juiciness and impressive tannic grip are notable in the mouth, yet opulent fruit holds center stage. The flavors are a complex, palate-coating melange, where sweet-savory notes of licorice root, orange peel tea, date, cola and vanilla are overwhelmed by deeper impressions of blackberry, black cherry and dark plum compote. The finish is lingering and dominates the tannins nicely, so this one is dinner-worthy from the gate. Expect five years or more of steady growth, or pair it with your next Prime Rib. 525 cases produced.
2013 Angwin Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “The Kissing Trees” Howell Mountain Napa Valley
This is old-fashioned mountain Cab with guts and a future, and it wants decanting to be fully appreciated now. The nose is a distinctly “Howell Mountain” perfume of black and red cherry, red currant, black licorice, cedar, leather, clove, laurel, smoke and dusty-woodsy spice. The combination of dark red fruits and smoky, minerally, foresty, herbal counterpoints is just as evident in the mouth, where the tannins are notable yet so are the flavors. There is plenty of grip evident on the palate, yet the finish lingers impressively and its layers of dark cherry, blackberry, black raspberry, licorice root, tobacco, cedar, laurel and mineral elements create a lasting impression. Likely to improve for six to eight years and beyond, it wants service with dark roasts or juicy steaks at this stage. 250 cases produced.
2015 Argot Cabernet Sauvignon “Borrowed Jewels” Sugarloaf Vineyard Napa Valley
Dark, sweet-natured and notably rich, the nose of this drought year Cabernet sports aromas of black cherry, mulberry, black currant, black fig, bitter chocolate, date sugar, star anise, clove, black tea, baking spices and tobacco. It is borderline extravagant on the palate, where sweet-savory notes of toffee, fig Newton, baking-spice, star anise, clove, cedar, nut husk, leather, espresso, laurel and tobacco are intro to a grander core of mulberry, blueberry syrup and dark cherry. The finish is very long and the tannins well hidden, yet this one will likely want four years and beyond to reveal all of its secrets. 125 cases made.
2014 Farella Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate”Coombsville Napa Valley
This is a seductive, flavor-packed and immediately engaging Cabernet that smothers its tannins in fruit. The nose melds scents of Amerena cherry, Italian Maraschino cherry, black raspberry, fig, plum, dark rose, star anise, cinnamon stick, peppercorn, black tea, toffee and espresso beans into a sweet-natured marriage. It is focused, graceful and ideally varietal on the palate, where piquant sour red cherry, pomegranate, crab apple syrup, blackberry, vanilla toffee, baking-spice, star anise, cinnamon, dried rose and tobacco leaf flavors fan-out rich and lingering. Truly satisfying already, it should grow ever more so for several years. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 350 cases made.
2014 Italics Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Coombsville Napa Valley
This is a deep and juicy Cab that delivers textbook Coombsville creaminess. The nose is a plush melange of black cherry, blueberry syrup, Cassis, black raspberry, vanilla, toffee, nougat and baking-spice scents. In the mouth, it is full-bodied and palate-coating, yet never less than elegant: and its creamy roll-out of raspberry, blueberry, black cherry, Cassis, rose, violet, black fig, cola, licorice root, clove, dark chocolate and cedar flavors is both ultra-long and fully able to overcome a firm spine of tannin and some chalky mineral undercurrents. Expect several years of growth, or enjoy it now for its generosity and elegance. 1270 cases made.
2014 Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserve” Spring Mountain Napa Valley
2014 is a gutsy year on Spring Mountain and this beauty exhibits intensity, focus and brooding power in its aromas of black currant, blackberry, black cherry, dark pipe tobacco, peppercorn, briar and dark forest-spice. It is as grandly proportioned as expected on the palate, yet its deep core of tannin seems secondary to its lavish, lingering flavors of red and black cherry, red currant, black raspberry, cedar, sandalwood, star anise, toffee, tobacco and briar. Truly exciting now if allowed some airing, it wants eight years or more to fully evolve, and could live for two decades after that. 1000 cases produced.
2013 Sciandri Family Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Coombsville Napa Valley
If clearly the most juicy-rich Sciandri Cab since the gorgeous 2008, this beauty delivers an extra note of elegance. The nose is a fruit and savory spice-packed mix of dark cherry, cherry cobbler, blueberry, black currant, black fig, date, mocha, clove, baking-spice and dried herb scents. Fruit is center-stage on the palate, where piquant cherry pit, sour cherry, Cassis, blueberry jam, vanilla, clove, baking spices and hints of dark tobacco create a juicy-zesty-creamy melange. The finish is long, supple and easily rich enough to smother the wine’s tannins, so entree matching will be a joy from the start. Expect this already delicious wine to improve for another five years. 250 cases produced.
2015 Carter Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Weitz Vineyard Oakville Napa Valley
Darker in personality than in the past, the 2015 Weitz melds aromas of blueberry, black cherry, red and black currant, dark tobacco, vanilla, black tea, cedar, leather, sweet tobacco, star anise and Victorian toffee into a classy, focused perfume. Although it has impressive tannic structure, this impression is secondary to the wine’s rich push of black cherry, red currant, black currant, dried currant, black raspberry, star anise, baking-spice, graphite and vanilla flavors. Heady-rich, the finish is nevertheless balanced, focused and lingering, if still a bit youthfully reticent. Expect four to seven years of growth and great pleasure well before its full maturity. 280 6-packs produced.
2014 Kathryn Kennedy Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Santa Cruz Mountains
This is pure Santa Cruz Mountains Cab from start to finish. The nose is deeply fruity and exotically savory, with classic SCM herbal spice and the soft-edge typical of the vintage. The aromas are a classy, focused medley of sweet plum, dark cherry, black raspberry, Cassis, violet, beet, licorice root, dark pipe tobacco, black tea and dried sage scents. It is juicy in mouth-feel, rich in weight and very expressive on the palate, where red currant, sour cherry, red plum, pomegranate, black raspberry, grilled fig, black licorice, star anise, new leather, cedar, laurel and forest floor spice notes all roll-out. Already graceful, it should grow in dimension and polish for at least five more years. 500 cases produced.
2014 Korbin Kameron Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Moon Mountain Sonoma Valley
2014 is proving to be a power vintage on Moon Mountain and here is further proof. The nose is a gutsy-zesty-grippy-youthful mix of dark sour cherry, red and black currant, cola, clove, bitter chocolate, dark tobacco, leather, graphite, peppercorn and dark forest earth scents. It is heavy-rich on the palate, but both grippy and crisp, which creates a classic mountain structure to frame the flavors of Cassis, blueberry, black raspberry, black cherry, black fig, dark chocolate, cola, vanilla, black tea, graphite and other dark mineral notes. The finish is long and the flavors forthcoming, although the wine will clearly repay at least five years of cellar time. 630 cases produced.
2014 Odonata Cabernet Sauvignon Douglass Crest Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains
100% Santa Cruz Mountain in personality and spice, this Cabernet wraps it’s core aromas of red currant, red plum and sour red cherry in layers of dried rose, bay leaf, baking-spice, mocha and forest-floor perfume. Sour cherry, red currant and red plum take center stage on the palate, where firming grip and appealing zest brace the texture but blunt neither the fruit nor the accompanying flavors of orange zest, peppercorn, laurel, dry forest leaves, vanilla and mocha. The finish is lingering and food-worthy, with mineral undercurrents and tannin keeping the focus. If tasty and ready to enjoy, it may be three years or more from its full maturity. 150 cases produced.
2014 Selene Cabernet Franc “Chesler” Frediani Vineyard Calistoga Napa Valley
This sweetly-ripe but notably elegant wine fans-out a youthful perfume of Elephant heart plum, sour dark cherry, cherry cobbler, pink peppercorn, violet, dried rose and baking-spice scents. On the palate the texture is gently crisp and slightly creamy, as sour cherry, plum jam, red currant, grenadine, dry rose, pink peppercorn, star anise, sandalwood, cedar, mace and baking-spice flavors glide through a polished and lingering finish. Despite its current charms, this pretty bottling will surely improve for several years and give pleasure well beyond that. Blended with 22% Merlot. 267 cases produced.
2015 Sinegal Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” St Helena Napa Valley
If big, boldly ripe and structured, this Cab has the fruit to generally hide it’s rough edges. The nose is packed with gutsy notes of black currant, black cherry, black fig, violet, licorice root, clove, tobacco, mocha, peppercorn and toffee. It proves juicy in flavor and rich in texture, and its layering of black currant, black cherry, cherry galette, blueberry, black fig, dark rose, black licorice, cedar, clove, dark tobacco, mocha and peppercorn coats the tongue through a structured yet balanced and lingering finish. It should grow in depth and become more supple over the next four years and beyond. Blended with 5% Petite Sirah, 5% Petite Verdot & 2% Malbec. 1000 cases produced.
2014 C. Beck Cabernet Sauvignon Barlow Vineyard Calistoga Napa Valley
Vivid and deeply fruity, the nose of this Cabernet layers a compote of purple plum, dark boysenberry, black raspberry, blueberry, black currant, black cherry and grilled fig scents above darkly savory notes of graphite, black tea, toffee and humidor-spice. The fruit is equally forthcoming on the palate, where juicy black raspberry, plum, blueberry and peppercorn join sweet-savory flavors of date sugar, tobacco, sandalwood, and star anise. Those flavors linger well and dominate the wines tannins nicely. Delicious already, it is sure to become ever more appealing over the next several years. 244 cases produced.
2014 Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon “Altagracia” Calistoga Napa Valley
Now made entirely from “estate” vineyard fruit, Eisele’s alternate Cab is a classy and age-worthy wine. The slightly brooding aromas are a focused mix of black and red currant, Italian Maraschino cherry, mulberry, blueberry, dry rose, cedar, clove, nutmeg, sandalwood, leather and graphite. On the palate it displays a firm structure, but captures the attention with a wave of black cherry, black raspberry, grilled black fig, licorice root and graphite flavors. The finish is racy and extremely long, and as the wine airs all of the elements promised in the nose are realized. Probably five years from its peak, it will already prove delicious with steaks, dark roasts or sauced meats. 1900 cases produced.
2014 Keever Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Yountville Napa Valley
This is an expressively “Yountville” Cabernet. The nose is classic to the appellation, as scents of sour red cherry, black cherry, red plum jam, red currant, black raspberry, violet, sage, laurel, sweet tobacco leaf, vanilla toffee and baking spices come forth with almost uniform intensity. On the palate, the tannins are polished if also clearly noticeable, yet the rush of flavor never yields center stage, and its sweet nature carries through a very long dinner-worthy finish, where the bright red-dominated fruit is caressed by layers of sweet tobacco, milk chocolate, baking spices and dried herbs. Gorgeous now, it will be much better in four years and beyond. 1013 cases made.
2013 Malk Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Stags Leap District Napa Valley
This gutsy young Cab pushes-forth a dense perfume of Amarena cherry, Maraschino cherry, red currant, Cassis, blueberry and black raspberry fruit swathed in a blanket of black olive, black peppercorn, cola, clove, cedar, tobacco, baking spices, dried sage and laurel. There is an impression of heady richness on the mid-palate, where the darker fruits hold center stage and tannic grip shows up to blunt the wine’s sweet-natured character. The finish is a juicy blast of black currant, black cherry, mulberry, pomegranate molasses, cola, black olive, mocha, licorice root, dried herbs and tobacco. Expect at least five years of steady growth for this bold effort. 572 cases made.
2014 Stewart Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
This is a flavorful, complex, beautifully balanced, notably dinner-worthy Cab. The nose presents black cherry, sweet red cherry, black currant, blueberry and toasted fig scents paired with notes of date sugar, bitter chocolate, clove, licorice and vanilla pipe tobacco. It shows surprising grip and richer savory tones than expected on the mid-palate, yet finishes with a long-lasting, energetic mix of berry compote, Cassis, dark cherry, cola, chocolate, dark tobacco, mace, clove, sandalwood and licorice root flavors. It should grow in suppleness for several years. 1436 cases made.
2014 Teeter Totter Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Sweetly ripe, yet elegantly dinner balanced, this flavor-packed Cab offers focused, quietly zesty aromas of Amarena cherry jam, black cherry, pomegranate syrup, clove, baking-spice, licorice root and dark tobacco. It is fruitier still on the palate, where a delicious rush of black cherry, cherry pit, Cassis, black raspberry, purple plum jam, forest floor-spice, black tea, clove, cedar, star anise and dark tobacco soars above firm, polished tannins. Deep and lingering, poised for great dinner service already, it should improve for several more years. Blended with 6% Merlot, 5% Syrah, 5% Zinfandel, 5% Petite Sirah, 2% Petite Verdot, 1% Malbec & 1% Cabernet Franc. 3300 cases produced.
2014 Aiken Cabernet Sauvignon Morisoli Vineyard Rutherford Napa Valley
Packed with dense, zesty fruit of obvious ripeness, this knockout Cab wraps scents of Amarena cherry, Italian Maraschino cherry, pomegranate syrup, blueberry compote, Cassis, date sugar and humidor-spice into a luxurious package. On the palate, the tannins are firm yet polished, and they team with the zest to keep the opulence food-friendly, so the surging flavors of spiced dark cherry, cherry pit, mulberry and blueberry fruit, vanilla, date, baking-spice, mocha, dark tobacco and star anise stay elegant despite their apparent drama. The finish is lingering, quietly piquant and balanced so that the tannins are almost completely submerged. It is so satisfying now, that many drinkers will likely disregard its future promise in favor of immediate pleasure. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon 95 cases made.
2014 Grand Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Napa Valley
Along with the style and focus that 2014 promises, this beauty has the structure for further improvement, and the nose is full of bright fruit and floral spice. Things are even more expressive on the palate, where black cherry, black raspberry, black currant and blueberry fruit flavors gain depth from notes of violet, rose, cola, licorice root, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, cedar and tobacco. The finish is long and satisfying and possesses the suppleness to keep the tannins well in the rear. Expect several years of positive improvement. Blended with 6% Petite Verdot & 2% Syrah. 530 cases produced.
2014 Richard Perry Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville Napa Valley
Along with the expected Coombsville creaminess, this Cab offers bright, forthcoming, herbal-accented fruit. The nose is a perfume of dried red currant, ripe red cherry, black cherry, black raspberry, cedar, licorice root, bitter chocolate, tobacco and vanilla, with hints of red rose and Thai basil in the background. That rich combination is replicated on the palate and through a supple, quietly gripping, lingering finish, where hints of black peppercorn, black fig and red plum chime in. Delicious now and sure to be more so in two years, it may well surprise with its longevity. 100% Cabernet, 279 cases produced.
2014 Pine & Brown Proprietary Red Wine Rutherford Napa Valley
Rich and warming, this wine’s aromas are a melange of black cherry, mulberry, blackberry, black currant and black fig steeped with dusty-woodsy scents and undercurrents of mocha, coffee bean, star anise and dried sage. It is ripe, round and satisfying on the palate, where black cherry, black berry, pomegranate molasses, tobacco, licorice root, bay leaf and other foresty notes produce a lingering, mouth-coating package. Better perhaps, in two or three years, it is already a fine counterpoint to rich beef entrees. A blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot & 5% Cabernet Franc. 85 cases produced.
2014 Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon Sullenger Vineyard Oakville Napa Valley
One of this winery’s greatest efforts, this classic Oakville Cab offers aromas of red and black cherry, red and black currant, sweet tobacco, baking spices, rose and dusty earth. On the palate, it is deep, focused and extremely long, with red cherry, red currant and Cassis flavors in the forefront and a layering of sweet tobacco, vanilla, cedar, clove, leather, dark chocolate, licorice root, dark rose, pink peppercorn and a hint of cinnamon right behind. Dusty mineral notes, zest and some firming tannins gently brace the finish, making it as age-worth as it is food-friendly. Enjoy it now or cellar it for five years and well beyond. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 3544 6-packs made.
2013 Stonestreet Cabernet Sauvignon Rockfall Vineyard Alexander Valley
This is an truly splendid wine: already delicious, but begging for cellar time. Deep, concentrated and precise, the nose aligns scents of black currant, black raspberry, black cherry, licorice root, bitter chocolate, clove, espresso bean, dried herbs, graphite and crushed rock into a portrait of mountain Cab. Those black and dark red fruits prove just as dominant on the palate, where none of the promised spice and mineral notes are lacking, as those elements hold firm as part of a concentrated, tightly-wound, gripping, lingering package suggestive of future greatness. This beauty will be delicious now with a roasted Chateaubriand, but the patient can expect five to eight years of dramatic evolution. 700 6-packs made.
2013 Bressler Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
This is a big-scale Cab that well-represents its vintage. The nose is a richly-layered mix of black cherry, black raspberry, black currant, black fig, violet, rose, Thai basil, black tea, clove, vanilla, dark chocolate and forest earth scents. The wine is big, gutsy and slow to open on the palate, yet airing reveals a suppleness of texture and a cornucopia of fruit and spice. What is revealed is a sweet-natured, lingering array of blueberry, black currant, mulberry, black fig, vanilla, baking-spice, licorice root, espresso bean and sweet pipe tobacco flavors. Both classy and dinner-worthy despite its youth, it may be quite special with a bit of cellar time. Expect five years or more of steady improvement. Blended with 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot & 2% Petit Verdot. 468 cases produced.
2013 Dos Lagos Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Atlas Peak Napa Valley
This is a tightly wrapped, notably youthful Cab, yet one that shifts dramatically in personality as it airs. It opens with savory scents of dried laurel, sage, oregano, graphite, sandalwood and violet poised above deeper, more concentrated notes of black cherry, dark cherry, blackberry and mulberry. It proves gripping, mineral-laced and tighter still on the palate. Airing brings sweet-natured fruit to center-stage though and the result is a firm-textured yet very generous layering of mulberry, blueberry, bitter chocolate-covered cherry, blackberry, root beer bark, licorice root, cedar, black tea, dark tobacco, sandalwood,laurel and graphite flavors. Long and gutsy, this a wine to serve now with dark, fatty meats. The patient can expect seven or eight years of growth. 190 cases produced. Debut Release.
2014 Drinkward Peschon Cabernet Sauvignon “Entre Deux Meres” Napa Valley
“Enter Deux Meres” is always forth-coming and the 2014 (their 15th release) is particularly so. The nose offers sweet-natured scents of blackberry, black currant, dark plum, violet, date sugar, laurel, sage, graphite, baking spices and tobacco. Tannic grip is notable on the palate, but only in the background, as blueberry, blackberry and blood orange notes bring an lift of brightness to the wine’s deep core of black fruits. The texture is round, palate-coating and supple, and airing brings forth the flavors and minerality promised in the nose, as well as a rush of black licorice. If shockingly satisfying already, it is four years from its maturity. 750 cases made.
2014 Pilcrow Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Mount Veeder Napa Valley
Bold, intense and focused, this gutsy mountain wine will likely, one day, be elegant as well. The nose delivers juicy scents of black cherry, sour cherry, pomegranate, crab apple syrup, red & black currant, violet, rose, cola, licorice root, tobacco, briar, leather and peppercorn, over darkly earthy mineral tones. Black cherry, black raspberry, pomegranate, sour cherry, red currant and red plum bring a citric edge to counterpoint the vanilla, tobacco, baking-spice, clove, licorice root, leather and dark mineral flavors on the palate. Airing brings some gentility to all the power, as the very long finish proves supple despite significant tannin. A throwback to the great Veeder Cabs of the ‘60s & ‘70s, it should get better for four to eight years. 203 cases made. Debut Release.
2013 Red Cap Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Napa Valley
Captivating from the start, the nose of this beauty offers a luxurious mix of sweet red cherry, sour cherry, red currant, blueberry, salted plum, rose, laurel, sage, baking-spice, cedar, star anise, sweet tobacco, peppercorn and vanilla scents. It is focused, grippy and just as sweet-natured on the palate, where long-lingering red cherry, red currant, “red vines”, black fig, licorice root, cedar, cola, mace, caramel and tobacco flavors keep on coming to more or less smother the tannins. The finest Red Cap Cab yet produced, it is absolutely delicious already yet has three to six years of growth ahead. 275 cases produced.
2014 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon Ghielmetti Vineyard Livermore
Yet another stunner from Livermore’s best winery, this beauty offers deep, chiseled aromas of sweet red cherry, red currant, Amerena cherry, Cassis, rose, violet, cinnamon, humidor-spice and hazelnut husk. It is as seductively fruit-forward on the palate, where the texture is creamy and the flavors seem a compacted layering of black cherry, black raspberry, Creme de Cassis, blueberry, blood orange, cola, dry rose, nutmeg, clove, leather and vanilla caramel. It is extremely long, and although altogether delicious even in its youth, it can only get better over the next five years. 225 cases produced.
2014 Camino Cabernet Sauvignon Montecillo Vineyard Moon Mountain Sonoma Valley
Richly aromatic, this “old vines” Cab offers textbook Moon Mountain concentration tempered by the soft-edge that is a hallmark of the 2014 vintage. The nose fans-out blackberry, Cassis, blueberry, black cherry, violet, rose, laurel, date pastry, graphite and black tea aromas in elegant focus. On the palate, bright flavors of blackberry, black cherry and Cassis make a strong statement, although dark sweet-savory counterpoints of licorice root, tobacco, graphite, foresty-spice and charcoal seem almost as rich. The finish lingers and sweet-natured juiciness does much to smother the tannins and bring immediate pleasure, yet this wine is likely to repay another three years of cellaring. 110 cases produced.
2014 Grimm’s Bluff Cabernet Sauvignon “Cliff Hanger” Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
This “Reserve” bottling is grander and more age-worthy than the winery’s Estate version, and its aromas are a gush of Italian Maraschino cherry, black and red currant, blackberry, bouillon, toast, baking spices and dark tobacco. It is dramatically rich yet pinpoint-balanced on the palate: at once gorgeously fruity and piquantly bright, with plenty of weight and impressive grip. The flavors are a lingering, tongue-coating melange of Italian Maraschino cherry, Amarena cherry, black currant, blueberry cobbler, pomegranate syrup, cherry pit, licorice root and humidor-spice. Gorgeous now, it will certainly improve for at least three years, although winemaker Paul Lato’s wines often surprise with their longevity. Blended with 3% Petit Verdot, 406 cases made. Debut release!
2013 Hertelendy Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
This is a concentrated yet very stylish Cabernet with forthcoming aromas of red and black currant, Creme de Cassis, black cherry, vanilla, date sugar, licorice root and humidor-spice. Things are juicy-ripe and racy on the palate, where flavors of Umeboshi plum, rose and candied violet chime-in to accent the wine’s richer core of dark cherry and currant. The finish is silky, lingering and gently piquant, which keeps the opulence food-worthy. The lingering memory is of bright cherry-currant-plum fruit counter-pointed by sweet-savory notes of licorice, tobacco, vanilla and a hint of bitter chocolate. Delicious now, it should improve for several more years. 533 cases produced. Debut release!
2012 Oakville Cross Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Napa Valley
Clearly the finest Oakville Cross Cabernet ever produced, this beauty well-represents its great vintage. The nose is deep and focused, with scents of red cherry, black raspberry, red and black currant, violet, cedar, black tea, vanilla, tobacco and dried herbs all clearly delineated. It is fruit forward yet shows fine underlying grip on the palate, where zesty cherry-currant-berry fruit is matched by rich vanilla, cedar, tobacco, baking-spice and dried herb notes. The finish is long and of chiseled balance, as tannic grip and zest keep things racy. Expect three years or more of improvement. 350 cases produced.
2013 Perliss Cabernet Sauvignon “The Raven” Calistoga Napa Valley
This immediately impressive Cab is darkly ripe, concentrated and focused, and if clearly youthful it is truly satisfying already. The nose is a juicy mix of black raspberry, olallieberry, mulberry, blueberry, black cherry and black fig fruit tied to sweet-savory notes of Victorian toffee, baking-spice and espresso beans. It is luxuriously rich on the palate, where the tannins are blanketed by a wave of black raspberry, mulberry, black fig, date sugar, coffee toffee, humidor-spice, licorice root, clove, coffee bean, and dark chocolate. Lingering and delicious now, it will grow ever more expressive over the next five years. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 400 cases produced.
2012 Trivium Cabernet Sauvignon “Les Ivrettes” St Helena Napa Valley
2012 is clearly a great vintage for the famous Lewelling vineyard as this beauty demonstrates. The nose is a a graceful marriage of sweet red cherry, sour red cherry, red currant, toasted cedar, sweet tobacco, laurel, clove and Kalamata olive scents. The wine is polished and elegant on the palate, where the fruits shifts into a slightly darker profile, with black raspberry, black cherry and Cassis at center stage and vanilla, dried herb and other savory notes in the wings. The finish is fruit-centric and lingering, with tannins in the background. Delicious now, it will be more so in another four years or so. 740 6-packs produced, from the Lewelling Vineyard.
2012 Alta Cabernet Sauvignon “Oso Malo” Atlas Peak Napa Valley
From start to finish this is Atlas Peak Cabernet. The nose is tightly-focused: with black currant, blackberry, mulberry, dark cherry, plum, violet, peppercorn, anise, tobacco, graphite and balsamic spice notes all clearly delineated. Crushed rock minerality and polished tannins make the mouth-feel firm and racy, yet the aromatic promise is fully fulfilled and the flavors are further enhanced by suggestions of cola, root beer bark, licorice root, clove, Victorian toffee and black fig. The finish is long and satisfying, although the wine’s full expression is four years away. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 300 cases made..
2014 Bench Vineyards “Circa ‘64” Proprietary Red Wine Stags Leap District Napa Valley
Creamy-rich and surprisingly soft-edged the nose of this brilliant Bordeaux-esque blend is a seductive mix of dark cherry, black cherry, black currant, blueberry, dark rose, bitter chocolate, date molasses, vanilla, coffee toffee, humidor-spice and bouillon scents. The wine’s underlying tannic structure is revealed on the palate, where the fruit-dense and tongue-coating texture morphs into a leaner, tighter mouth-feel. The finish is long and already food-friendly. The lingering memory is of gradually expansive flavors that include blueberry, dark cherry, black and red currant, purple plum, toasted cedar, date molasses, baking spices, sandalwood, licorice root, espresso beans, toffee and milk chocolate. Expect five years of steady improvement, but don’t fear to try it now. A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Petite Verdot and 25% Malbec, 250 cases made. Debut release.
2013 En Garde Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain Napa Valley
Intriguingly complex and surprisingly forthcoming for its appellation, this is a slightly exotic, if already fulfilling Cab. The nose weaves scents of black currant, blackberry, blueberry, violet, graphite, dry brush, dark chocolate, leather, licorice root, cedar and cola into a forthcoming and harmonious tapestry. Things are lean yet impressively rich on the palate, where there is enough fruit to suppress the tannin-mineral underpinnings that are so much a part of the Diamond Mountain personality. The finish is a deep and lingering melange of mixed dark berries, black fig, dried dark cherry, cola, bitter chocolate, dried red rose, licorice root, humidor-spice, cedar, leather, clove and graphite. If likely five years from its full maturity, it is a fine dinner wine already. 200 cases produced, entirely from the Sori Brico Vineyard.
2012 Palazzo Cabernet Franc Napa Valley
Wonderfully expressive and of great elegance, the nose of this Bordeaux-esque beauty is a layered perfume of sweet red and black cherry, black raspberry, red currant, red plum, violet, cedar, baking-spice, toffee, vanilla pipe tobacco and star anise scents. These elements are just as well expressed on the palate, where the flavors seem to glide on a rich textural wave that is both classy and richly satisfying. If the finish is youthfully tightened by tannin and hints of peppery spice, the wine will still serve beautifully right now with richly sauced filet mignon. It should be even more lovely if given a few years of cellar time. 100% Cabernet Franc, 400 cases made.
2013 Petree Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Deep, rich and sweet-natured, this Rutherford-esque Cab has fruit-centered aromas of black currant, blackberry, black cherry and violet which rise above savory notes of licorice, clove, camphor, humidor spice and vanilla: the whole braced by a streak of firming minerality. Fruit is the central theme on the palate as well, where an otherwise creamy mouth-feel is tightened a bit by tannic grip and graphite undercurrents. The finish is long, supple and well-balanced between fruity and savory flavors and a note of black fig adds richness while a hint of cranberry-orange relish brings zest at the end. Pleasurable now, it should seem truly luxurious if given a few more years in the cellar. Blended with 7% Petite Verdot & 5% Cabernet Franc, 329 cases produced.
2012 Steven Kent “Lineage” Proprietary Red Wine Livermore Valley
Lineage is the signature bottling of Livermore’s finest winery and in such a great vintage it delivers near perfection. The nose poises a veneer of sweet tobacco, spice cake, Victorian toffee, cedar and graphite above a deeply concentrated core of red currant jam, dried red cherry, red plum, blueberry and violet. All that luxury fans-out on the palate with tongue-coating creaminess which is kept food-worthy by zesty, persistent fruit. The finish is focused, supple and classically elegant, and it rolls-out as a cascade of cherry, currant, plum, blueberry, pomegranate syrup, violet, fig, star anise, baking-spice, cedar, tobacco, vanilla and toffee. Beautiful now, it is five years from its full glory. A blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot & 4% Petite Verdot. 300 cases produced.
2012 Anthem Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Mount Veeder Napa Valley
Darkly earthy and deeply fruity, the nose of this classic Mt Veeder bottling is immediately impressive, as aromas of black cherry, black plum, black currant, black fig, date molasses, humidor-spice, licorice root and graphite fan-out in a juicy-rich display. It is every bit as deep and juicy on the palate, where focused fruit and loads of savory spice find an opulent harmony which the wines firming tannic structure cannot truly blunt. The finish is gutsy and super-long, layering black fig, date molasses, licorice root and graphite flavors over a richer, more tightly-wound core of black cherry and pomegranate syrup. It will likely be an absolute knockout within five years, yet may continue to grow in depth and appeal for years after that. Blended with 13% Cabernet Franc, 550 cases produced.
2013 Argot Cabernet Sauvignon “Borrowed Jewels” Sugarloaf Vineyard Napa Valley
If juicy ripe, this is also a richly savory Cabernet. The nose marries juicy-syrupy notes of black cherry, blackberry and Cassis with a complex sweet-savory melange that includes scents of licorice, dates, cedar, Kalamata olive and leather. The wine proves as rich and textured in the mouth as the aromas suggest, and it layers zesty, palate-coating flavors of black cherry, pomegranate syrup and Cassis above darkly savory underpinnings. The finish is lingering, richly oaky and tannic beneath all the the fruit, with attractive notes of mulling spices, licorice root and mocha coming in at the end. Years of steady growth lie ahead for this beefy bottling. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 150 cases made.
2013 La Voix Cabernet Sauvignon “Ecstacy of Gold” Santa Barbara County
This is a beautifully polished and supple Cabernet with lots of character. The aromas are an elegant mix of black currant, dark cherry, blueberry, Cassis, mulberry, red rose, vanilla, anise, graphite and sweet tobacco. In the mouth it is zesty and bright, yet palate-coating, with creamy notes of vanilla, cedar, chestnut, baking spices, cola and licorice root rolling-out in support of black currant, dark cherry, and blueberry-centered fruit. It possesses the underlying tannins to imply that several years of improvement lie ahead, yet its polished, forthcoming character suggests that current drinking would not be a sin. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with Merlot & Malbec. 182 6-packs produced.
2012 Paratus Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Mount Veeder Napa Valley
Classically Mt. Veeder, this Cab is darkly rich and powerful, with the textbook mix of citric-edged fruit and exotic savory spice. The nose offers chiseled scents of pomegranate syrup, raspberry candy, black, dark and sour cherry, violet, toasted cedar, briar, peppercorn, coriander seed, vanilla and baking-spices. Things are deeply concentrated if tightly wound and packed with firming tannin on the palate, yet airing brings forth all the hoped-for flavors, and the wine finishes with an energetic blast of pomegranate, sour cherry, red cherry, red currant, star anise and sweet-savory spice. It is likely to improve for a decade and be great for years after. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 500 cases produced.
2012 Piña Cabernet Sauvignon Wolff Vineyard Yountville Napa Valley
Sweetly-rich, this Cabernets offers distinctive, focused aromas of dark cherry, dark plum, black fig, date sugar, coffee toffee and star anise over hints of dried herbs and Oriental spices. Things prove as rich and gutsy as expected on the palate, where concentration and tannic grip make the texture firm and the wine's cellar-worthiness obvious. The flavors center on darkly ripe black currant, blackberry, black cherry and plum fruit in harmony with licorice root, black tea, baking-spice notes and tobacco. The finish is very long and an appealing cardamom element comes in at the end. Expect five years of steady improvement at minimum. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 592 cases made.
2013 Sojourn Cabernet Sauvignon “George III” Beckstoffer Vineyard Rutherford Napa Valley
This is a spectacular showcasing of this justifiably famous vineyard, and the wines gorgeous perfume of black cherry, red currant, red cherry, blackberry, violet, blueberry, red plum, five-spice, spice cake, coffee toffee and peppercorn is classically Rutherford. It is gushingly fruity on the palate where cherry-berry-violet fruit, sandalwood and star anise surge to the forefront. The finish is perfectly dinner-balanced and ultra-long, while the substantial tannins are well submerged. Certainly five-plus years from its full expression, it is altogether captivating right now. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 350 cases produced.
2013 Gamling & McDuck Cabernet Franc Pickberry Vineyard Sonoma Mountain
This knockout Franc is altogether distinctive and already a joy to drink. A cornucopia of black raspberry, dried red currant, red & black cherry, rhubarb, red rose, sassafras, balsamic spice and dark savory scents fans-out as the wine airs. Things are at once gutsy and racy on the palate, where a sleek mouth-feel belies the wine’s otherwise notable tannins, and the rush of complex, lingering fruit proves as focused as it is bright. The finish elegantly harmonizes the focused fruit-centered elements offered in the nose with savory counterpoints of cedar, tobacco, baking spices, vanilla, mace, root beer and black tea. Pair it now with a fatty roast, or watch it evolve over the next five years. 242 cases produced.
2012 Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Spring Mountain Napa Valley
This gutsy jewel displays the structure expected from a great mountain vineyard in a great vintage. The nose is deep, focused and powerful, with black cherry, black raspberry, currant, black fig, violet, red rose, black tea and licorice root all standing out. It is as bold as expected on the palate, where the flavors are super-long and the texture almost chewy. The flavors include notes of briar, tobacco, leather, baking spices, cola, vanilla, black tea, cedar and foresty-minerally elements, which form a rich contrast to the wine’s grand core of black cherry fruit. Expect ten years of improvement and a long life. 700 cases produced.
2012 Lampyridae Cabernet Sauvignon Communication Block Mount Veeder Napa Valley
2012 is likely Mt. Veeder’s greatest vintage since 1970 and here is one of it’s bright stars. The nose is a deeply rich, super-exotic perfume of pink peppercorn, violet, sour cherry, red plum syrup, raspberry coulis, vanilla cream sickle and baking-spice scents. Things are just as distinctive on the palate, where the texture is rich and juicy and the brooding flavors concentrated and lingering. The finish is packed with sour cherry, pomegranate syrup, plum jam, violet, peppercorn, dried herb, tobacco, star anise and mountain briar flavors. The tannins are smothered in fruit, so the wine is terrifically satisfying already. It is yet several years from it’s full expression and should prove long-lived. 71 cases made.
2011 Malk Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Napa Valley
Deep and already seductive, the aromas of this classically elegant Stags Leap Cab are a delightful perfume of sweet red cherry, red currant, black currant, violet, camphor blossom, milk chocolate, humidor-spice, cedar and vanilla scents. In the mouth, it is notable for its sleek texture and polished tannins, but even more so for the rush of lovely, lingering fruit that comes with it. Those flavors, a medley of currant, cherry, violet, mocha, cedar, vanilla and sweet tobacco are focused and charming to the very end, so although the wine is destined for further improvement it is already hard to resist. 238 cases produced.
2012 Rocca Cabernet Sauvignon “Tesorina” Napa Valley
One of the truly sensational 2012s, this beauty is already irresistible. The nose creates a captivating perfume by layering gushing black currant, blackberry and black cherry fruit upon savory scents of dried laurel and sage, black tea, toasted oak, star anise and peppery roasted meat. Deep, focused fruit and vibrant zest are hallmarks on the palate as well, so the wine’s tongue-drenching richness stays dinner-friendly. The finish is ultra-complex and super-long, and an ending blast of tobacco, licorice root, dried herbs and dark foresty spice cannot challenge the supremacy of the energetic black cherry, blackberry and black currant fruit. Near-perfect now, it is certain to improve for five years at least, if one can refrain from gulping it immediately. 106 cases made.
2012 Watermark Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder Napa Valley
This is a deep and brooding mountain Cab with intensity, class and a big future. The nose marries scents of black cherry, pomegranate syrup, black currant, Creme de Cassis, Licorice root, baking-spice and sweet tobacco. It is huge in body and packed with fruit and tannin on the palate and through a notably long and notably youthful finish. That fruit centers on tightly-coiled, juicy black cherry and pomegranate fruit, with undercurrents of grilled black figs, briar, tobacco, dried herbs and foresty spice. It well deserves the five to ten years of age it needs in order to fully express itself. 335 cases produced.
2012 Aperture Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley
Big in scale, but youthfully fresh, the nose of this concentrated Cabernet layers vivid red cherry, red currant, raspberry, red boysenberry, violet, sandalwood, star anise, cedar and tobacco scents into a focused package. On the palate, there is ample fruit and a fair dose of tannic grip in contrast, and rich body. The finish is long, if a trace youthfully firm, and in the finish rose petal and red vines notes come in to accent the wines rich core of sweet red fruits. Delicious already, it will improve for several more years. Blended with 10% Malbec. 275 cases produced.
2011 Arns Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Napa Valley
Wonderfully elegant and focused, the nose of this Cabernet melds black currant, dark cherry, berry compote, baking spice, star anise, cedar, laurel, caramel and humidor-spice into a classy and fruit-dominated melange. On the palate, deep licorice root, star anise and baking-spice notes make a near-perfect foundation for the red currant, cherry, blueberry and blackberry fruits that are the core of the wine. The finish is a feminine, lingering, already delicious representation of what Cabernet is all about and everything here should get even better over the next three years. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, all from old vines. 100 cases produced.
2009 Kathryn Kennedy Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Santa Cruz Mountains
Super deep, concentrated and identifiably Santa Cruz Mountain in character, the nose of this perfectly-evolved Cabernet rolls-out as a wave of purple plum, black currant, black raspberry, dried black currant, expresso bean, black tea leaf, cedar, licorice root, bourbon-caramel, cola and dark earth scents. It is boldly flavorful and luxuriously rich on the palate, where everything promised in the nose unfolds in a creamy rush of flavor. The finish is plush and lingering and the remaining tannins and dark mountain minerality bring all the opulence into a fine dinner-friendly whole. 600 cases produced.
2013 Odette Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Stags Leap District
Clearly grand-scale, if clearly youthful, the nose of this near-dramatic Cabernet stamps Italian Maraschino cherry and red plum scents upon others of sweet tobacco, baking-spice and milk chocolate. Power and richness are fully evident on the palate, where flavors of black cherry, red plum, red current, black current, dark rose, cola, humidor-spice, bitter chocolate, graphite and dark earthy spice fan-out with gripping tannins in support. The finish is mouth-coating rich and its push of flavor always manages to dominate the wines rougher edges. Expect five to eight years of improvement, but don’t be afraid to try a bottle now, for it will be rewarding. 3500 cases produced. produced.
2007 Parador Cabernet Sauvignon Hossfield Vineyard Napa Valley
Beautifully evolved and perfectly dinner-worthy, this is a truly delicious Cabernet. The aromas layer Bordeaux-esque scents of cedar, old leather, vanilla, sweet tobacco and spice-cake over textbook “Hossfield notes” of black currant, black raspberry, dried black cherry, black fig, black tea, licorice root and peppercorn. All of these notes find harmony on the palate, where the depth is richly satisfying and the impression is of perfect ripeness. The finish is lingering and creamy, with enough remaining tannic grip to make food matching easy and to suggest many good years of positive evolution. 225 cases produced.
2012 Viluko Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County
If initially reserved, the aromas of this very impressive debut fan-out with airing as a focused array of red currant, red plum, red cherry, cinnamon “red hots”, black raspberry, vanilla and toast, over rich undercurrents of baking spices and dark tobacco. That fruity-savory mix is firmed a bit by tannin, so the mid-palate feel is tighter and less expressive than the nose. The finish is very long though and as it airs it reveals an interesting chalky undercurrent to counterpoint beautifully rendered flavors of black raspberry, red currant, red cherry, dark tobacco and sweet baking spices. 880 cases made, from a vineyard located in the newly established Fountaingrove District appellation. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.