Napa Valley is infinitely extra advanced than it typically will get credit score for. Certainly, I’ve misplaced rely of the variety of occasions that I’ve heard the area, and its wines, referred to in phrases that simply don’t mirror the true variety of its soils, micro-climates, exposures, and extra. Part 1 of this short series on Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which ran this previous Monday, targeted on the Stags Leap District and Yountville AVAs. At present’s installment seems to be at Rutherford and St. Helena, which share a border alongside the northern fringe of the previous and the southern one of many latter. But they’re remarkably completely different locations, with distinctive expressions of Cabernet produced in every.
In keeping with Jeff Cole, winemaker of Sullivan Rutherford Property, “Rutherford is among the most original appellations within the Napa Valley and arguably the world. The six sq. miles that encompasses Rutherford has essentially the most ideally suited soils to provide the world’s greatest Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons,” he instructed me. “The soils are comprised of gravelly, sandy loam with volcanic and marine deposits. These sediments have been eroded over hundreds of years from the encircling mountainsides, and comprise the distinctive soils which might be solely present in Rutherford. Most notably is a three-mile stretch alongside the Mayacamas mountain vary to the west that’s closely saturated in gravel and sand referred to as the Rutherford Bench. These soils,” he continued, “are fertile, which permit for wholesome balanced vines, however they’re so effectively drained that there’s sufficient stress all through the rising season to scale back yields, which in flip produces wines which might be very concentrated and sophisticated.”
Regardless of the main target that’s typically skilled on the character of the soil in a selected area, appellation, or winery, there are different environmental elements which might be simply as vital. Cole famous that, “Moreover the implausible soil [in Rutherford], there’s a marine affect that’s the signature of a Rutherford afternoon through the summer time.” He elaborated: “By mid-afternoon there’s a cooling impact created by a breeze that comes off the San Pablo Bay, which is to the south of Napa bordering the Carneros AVA. This breeze cools the vines within the afternoon and night, permitting the vines to get better from the recent day. The result’s retained acidity, even [and] constant ripening all through the rising season, and prolonged cling time for phenolic maturity. The ensuing wines are structured, dense, savory, and sometimes have a darker fruit profile that’s…distinctive to Rutherford.”
For a way of what Rutherford is able to, I like to recommend trying out the next wines, listed alphabetically.
Beaulieu Winery Georges De Latour Non-public Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Napa Valley
Although labeled “Napa Valley,” the vines for this benchmark bottling come from BV’s Ranch No. 1 and No. 2, each planted greater than a century in the past in Rutherford’s western benchland. This exceptional Cab hovers above the glass with lifted, flower-kissed aromas of contemporary spearmint, mountain berries, and entire cloves earlier than a palate of each freshness and focus that shimmers with black cherries, spice cake, a nod within the course of nuttiness, and Andes mints. Significantly notable is the magnificence of the tannins right here so early within the wine’s youth, regardless of the potential for an additional 20-plus years within the cellar.
Frank Household Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Rutherford, Napa Valley
Aromas of raspberry-filled dark-chocolate ganache are edged with blue fruit and violets, all teeing up flavors of combined mountain berries, black and crimson cherries, purple plums, and a touch of bergamot that shimmers by way of the silky, flower-flecked end. It’s going to age gracefully for an additional decade-plus, however the fruit is so interesting proper now that there’s no want to attend for much longer in any respect.
Freemark Abbey Bosché Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Rutherford, Napa Valley
Kirsch, black raspberries, darkish chocolate, and mineral precede a palate of splendidly detailed and assertive construction, with flavors of Amarena cherries, crimson and black currants, dusty tannins which might be very a lot traditional of Rutherford’s status, toasted fennel seeds, bay laurel, and a splash of espresso. That is constructed for the lengthy haul, with stability and acidity to spare, and may proceed evolving in fascinating methods till the late-2040s.
Inglenook Rubicon 2016 Rutherford, Napa Valley
This mix of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and seven% Cabernet Franc is positively alive with power: It races from the glass with wonderful acidity and vibrant berry fruit, but the seam of minerality retains the black raspberries, huckleberries, and brandied cherries past contemporary. Flavors of melted licorice and a contact of cocoa powder trip alongside by way of the lengthy, beneficiant, and well-structured end that guarantees one other 30 years of evolution. But it surely’s so expressive already that there’s no want to attend.
Nickel & Nickel C.C. Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Rutherford, Napa Valley
The dried herbs on the nostril listed here are a trademark of this winery, in accordance with winemaker Joe Harden, and they’re difficult by balsamic and subtly dill-like tones that elevate notes of cherries and blackberries, and that observe by way of to the beneficiant palate. Exceptional fragrant complexity and deeply polished tannins make this an ideal candidate to open within the brief time period, however ready 5 or 10 years—or extra!—will provide loads of rewards, too. (As a aspect notice, Nickel & Nickel’s John C. Sullenger Winery Cabernet, from Oakville, and State Ranch Cab, from Yountville, are additionally effectively price trying out—they’re wonderful expressions of standout vineyards of their respective AVAs.)
Sullivan Rutherford Property Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Rutherford, Napa Valley
So stuffed with chocolate, Andes mint, cassis, kirsch, and sachertorte on the nostril, which all precede a palate pulsing with notes of untamed strawberries, mountain berries, crimson and black cherries, vanilla pod, star anise, and a touch of hoisin sauce: That is beneficiant and balanced on the identical time. Candied violets and licorice ring from the mid-palate by way of to the lengthy end, the place dusty tannins present grip and the potential to age till 2036 and past.
Quintessa 2017 Rutherford, Napa Valley
This can be a wealthy, chocolate-enrobed wine, with cassis and pencil shavings fanning out on the palate in waves of black raspberry-filled ganache, cedar, cigar humidor, and hints of mocha. It’s all so energetic, too, and fantastically calibrated acidity retains the ripe brambly fruit contemporary and vigorous, promising a long time of cellar-time to return.
Simply to the north is St. Helena which, regardless of its proximity to Rutherford, has its personal distinct identification. In keeping with Beth Novak Milliken, President and CEO of the long-lasting Spottswoode Property Winery & Vineyard, “The St. Helena appellation is among the hotter appellations in Napa Valley (second to Calistoga), as it’s additional north from San Pablo Bay, which implies that the summer time fog burns off earlier right here. But the Spring Mountain hole permits fog in from the Pacific to the west, providing St. Helena the advantage of this cooling.”
She additionally defined that, “The soils differ west to east [in St. Helena], with the bench lands abutting the Mayacamas Mountains on the west.” So even throughout the appellation, there’s a implausible breadth of soils that Cabernet could be planted in. Spottswoode, for instance, “is positioned on these alluvial, well-drained soils, on the northernmost attain of the western bench lands of Napa Valley (this bench begins in Yountville and ends in St. Helena).” That terroir, along with Spottswoode’s “long-time natural and biodynamic farming practices,” permit her and her workforce, together with winemaker Aron Weinkauf, to provide wines that, alongside their deep ties to the western a part of the AVA that they’re (actually and figuratively) rooted in, converse to the general sense that one of the best wines from St. Helena specific: “Wines which have an incredible core, are dense, dynamic, advanced and energetic, that specific deep blackberry with a way of the cobbles, rocks, and gravel in our soil (minerality),” Novak elaborated in an electronic mail. “They’re profound, expressing their energy as a yogi grasp (core, tensile power) versus that of a physique builder—wines of nice density, with stability and magnificence.”
To expertise the character of St. Helena, I like to recommend on the lookout for the next wines, listed alphabetically.
Crocker & Starr 1 Submit Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 St. Helena, Napa Valley
Unexpectedly meaty aromas dance with brambly berries, blackberries, and carob, after which flip to a palate of pure silk in texture, with contemporary sage, woodsy herbs, and graphite that lends distinct savory notes to the mid-palate and end. Nonetheless, it is a beneficiant wine, with heat cherries and licorice, a notice that jogs my memory of black cherry wishniak soda, and chestnuts. This has type to spare, and can evolve for a quarter-century if saved correctly.
Ehlers 1886 Property Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 St. Helena, Napa Valley
Aromas of sizzling slate and flowers are implausible counterpoints to 1 one other, and are lifted with licorice-kissed black cherries earlier than a silky palate tugged together with iron-laced flavors of black cherries, cedar, smoldering cherry pipe tobacco, and toasty cobbler shell. The ripe, tea-like tannins body this fantastically, promising 20 years of evolution, however even now it’s exhibiting fantastically.
Spottswoode Property Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 St. Helena, Napa Valley
Saturated in shade, with aromas of sage, forest ground, currants, blueberries, pencil shavings, and violets which might be lifted and completely lovely: There may be a complete universe within the nostril right here. The palate follows by way of on that promise, and approaches perfection. It’s balanced and concentrated with currants, blueberries, black raspberries and gobs of combined cherries, sandalwood, incense (particularly on the end), cedar, orange oil, and darkish chocolate. Decant it now or lay it down for 40 years; both method, it’s going to be unforgettable.