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Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Spotting the untapped potential of the Napa Valley, Robert Mondavi established his now-legendary winery in 1966 with the ambition of producing some of the world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignons. Today his name is synonymous with breathtaking premium red blend which catapulted Napa Valley into the limelight as a serious rival to Europe’s great winemaking regions.
Shaped by Mondavi’s perfectionist legacy, this classic Napa Valley Cab is crafted using grapes selected from their famous To Kalin vineyard in Oakville and Wappo Hill Vineyard in Stag’s Leap. After an extended maceration the must is vinified and then matured for 17 months in French oak barrels. During this ageing period the team repeatedly samples the developing wines and decides on the composition of the final blend. Usually this will include small amounts of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc to add further complexity and a smooth texture to the finished wine.
The result of all this attention to detail is a voluptuous Napa Cab which offers outstanding value. The nose explodes with succulent black cherries, plums and leather aromas which evolve into seductive spices, wild berries and lavender on the palate. An excellent introduction to the king of Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon, from the man who put the Valley on the wine map!
Duckhorn Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
This deep crimson Cabernet exudes opulent aromas of blackcurrants, cherry jam and dark chocolate which mingle with warming cinnamon and nutmeg. The palate is dominated by luscious dark fruit and gentle hints of baking spices, star anise and coffee. To create a wine that is both approachable and surprisingly complex, Duckhorn ages the wine for 10 months in French oak barrels to give firm tannins and a velvety smooth finish.
The winery also adds a splash of Merlot to the Cabernet Sauvignon to enhance the intense dark fruit character and to give a certain silky softness to this full-bodied wine. Blessed with a friendly, easy-going personality, this charming Cab is equally at home being sipped by the fireside or paired with a fine steak.
Founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in the late 1970s, Duckhorn Vineyards has become a point of reference for premium Napa Valley Merlot. Drawing on the wealth of knowledge and expertise accumulated by their team working in Napa, the couple also have a base in Sonoma County where they produce their Decoy wines. Here the focus is on crafting well-made Bordeaux varietals that are ready to be drunk upon release and offer incredible value for money.
Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
To give this powerful Central Coast Cab balance and complexity, the grapes are selected from four distinguished AVAs which have a particular affinity with Cabernet Sauvignon: Pasos Robles, Arroyo Seco, San Antonio Valley and Hames Valley. Each area adds a unique facet to the wine’s complex personality; Paso Robles is known for its big and bold Cabs, while Arroyo Seco grapes add a firm structure and fruit from San Antonio Valley and Hames Valley contribute rich dark berry, dried fruit and spicy flavours. To ensure these different elements are well-integrated, the wine is barrel-fermented and then aged in French oak barrels for 10 months.
The result is a hearty, full-bodied wine bursting with intense aromas and flavours. The nose displays intricate layers of freshly-ground coffee, toast, dark chocolate and blackcurrant jam which evolve into sweet dark berries, vanilla and licorice on the palate. Firm tannins and robust fruit flavours make this an excellent match for braised ribs or earthy game dishes.
Smith & Hook takes its name from two former cattle ranches in the Santa Lucia Highlands which were purchased by Nicky and Gaby Hahn in 1980 after they noticed the untapped winemaking potential of the local area. Recently recognised as an “American Wine Pioneer” by Wine Enthusiast magazine, Nicky successfully lead the campaign to have Santa Lucia recognised as an AVA in 1991. With nearly forty years of winemaking experience in the Central Coast area, the family-run business is now in the capable hands of the Hahns’ son, Philip.
Girard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
This sumptuous Napa Cabernet opens with seductive notes of coffee, leather, and crushed wild blackberries. The first sip reveals a generous full body, firm tannins, and rich dark cherry, plum, dark chocolate and baking spice flavours which linger long on the tongue. The intense flavour profile makes this an ideal partner for hearty red meat dishes like beef bourguignon or a fine steak as well as barbecued meats.
The fruit of a father and son’s dream to make authentic Napa wines, Girard was founded in 1975 and has quickly established itself as a benchmark for reasonably-priced, good quality wine in the valley. Over the decades the winery has forged excellent relationships with its partner growers which allows them to source top quality fruit every vintage from Napa’s finest appellations.
This Cabernet is the fruit of Girard’s close partnerships with their growers and is crafted with grapes from prime plots in St Helena, Rutherford, Atlas Peak, Yountville and Diamond Mountain. The winery adds a small amount of Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc to the Cabernet to add extra complexity, a softness of texture and savoury undertones to the finished wine.
Orin Swift Cabernet Sauvignon Palermo 2016
Needs an hour to open up, decant if unable to wait.
Of all the wines that Dave Phinney makes, he looks to this wine to be his most diverse Cabernet Sauvignon. He meticulously selects grapes from the major growing regions of Napa Valley using his expansive network of vineyards. This exhaustive work is meant to showcase the vast styles, microclimates and soil profiles of these vineyards. Like a mad scientist, the wines from different sites are blended together to find the perfect balance.
With two consecutive near perfect harvests, this may be the best Cabernet Sauvignon ever made by Orin Swift.
The nose and taste are as you would hope for and expect from a quality Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Toasted oak and ripe dark berries linger on the nose with a subtle touch of cassis. When tasted, the wine does not attack. It gently lingers on the palate for a moment before evolving into a full and serious wine with amazing concentration of flavor. The flavors that are most prevalent include kirsch/cherry notes, black currant, raspberry and a welcome slightly dusty finish.
The lively tannins and dark fruit make it a phenomenal accompaniment to fattier red meat dishes like grilled lamb chops or a hanger steak. The tannins will cut through the glycerol mouth feel of the fattiness and clear the palate for the next bite.
Orin Swift Cellars is owned and operated by David Swift Phinney. After falling in love with wine on a trip to Florence, Italy, he worked as a temporary harvester for Robert Mondavi Winery before starting Orin Swift Cellars in 1998. Orin comes from his father’s middle name while Swift is his mother’s maiden name.
Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
This dark and handsome Californian Cabernet Sauvignon is a meditation on the state’s unique winegrowing regions which come together in perfect harmony in this bottle. Grapes from the Napa Valley add richness and complexity, Sonoma adds a hint of sweet baking spice, and Lake County fruit brings a subtle minerality. From the warmer Paso Robles grapes we get soft, well-rounded tannins and depth of flavour, while Lodi completes the blend with a silky smooth mouthfeel and rich jammy fruit.
After the grapes are harvested, the wine is fermented separately and aged in oak barrels for 18 months. As they develop, the barrels are tasted regularly to check on their progress and to decide the composition of the final blend.
The result is a well-balanced wine which offers a snapshot of California’s top regions for Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose offers blackberry, cola and sweet vanilla notes, while the palate showcases dark crushed berries and baking spice. Well-rounded and silky smooth in the mouth, this is an ideal red to savour on its own or to enjoy alongside rich tomato-based pasta dishes and red meat.