Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 56

YEAR'S BEST US CABERNETS & BLENDS
Our blind panels tasted 648 new-release cabernet-based wines over the past 12 months. Joshua Greene, our critic for northern
California, and Patrick J. Comiskey, our critic for California's Central Coast, Oregon and Washington, rated 255 as exceptional (90+)
and 100 as Best Buys. Find a complete list of wines tasted and all reviews at wineandspiritsmagazine.com.

CA LI FO RN I A
N A PA V A L L E Y
521302

96 | Heitz

$250

2015 Napa Valley Martha's Vineyard Cab-
ernet Sauvignon ^ Extended bottle age at
Heitz's cellar is a long-term investment in a
wine like this 2015 Martha's Vineyard. Mysteriously, the wine manages to be plump
and austere at once, like an aristocrat who's
a little soft in the middle but tough as nails.
The vintage has the eucalyptus scent that
famously marks this vineyard's cabernet, a
complex element in the midst of the wine's
fresh, bright red fruit and silken texture. Seriously grand Napa Valley cabernet, bristling
with energy, this has a long life ahead. -J.G.
(W&S 10/20; 2,500 cases) §
521534

96 | Long Meadow Ranch

$135

2015 Napa Valley E.J. Church Cabernet
Sauvignon ^ Long Meadow's vineyard in the
Mayacamas hills above Rutherford was originally planted by E.J. Church in the 1870s;
since 1989, it has been the home of Ted and
Laddie Hall, who have since planted 16 acres
of organically farmed vines (CCOF certified).
Their cabernet, made by Ashley Heisey, is a
dynamic wine in 2015, right from the intoxicating floral spice, notes of cedar and thyme
drawing you in to the generous taste of fruit
on the verge of ripeness, then pulling you
back with an undertow of savory tannins, a
quiet umami explosion of dark mushrooms
and mountain rock. Vinous rather than
overtly fruity, this sustains some of the vegetal aspects of cabernet in its flavors while the
tannins feel completely ripe-reversing the
contemporary Napa Valley paradigm. This is
a luscious, deliciously clean red that will live
and evolve for years. - J.G. §
519587

95 | Duckhorn

$100

2016 Napa Valley Three Palms Vineyard
Cabernet Sauvignon ^ When Dan and Margaret Duckhorn released their first wines, the
1978s included a vineyard-designate from
Three Palms. The vineyard became part of
Duckhorn's identity and, since 2015, the
73 acres of rocky, volcanic soils on the valley floor between St. Helena and Calistoga
56

WINE & SPIRITS

DECEMBER 2020

are now part of Duckhorn's estate. If you're
a longtime Duckhorn fan, you won't be disappointed by the richness and power of this
2016. It's ripe and substantial, with a soulful
mineral complexity to the chocolate depths
of its tannins. And if you tend to gravitate
toward cooler wines from high altitudes in
the Mayacamas, you might share my fascination with the cool, brisk feel of this wine,
particularly in the context of that volcanic
intensity. It's the kind of contradiction I've
come to expect in the best wines from Renee
Ary, winemaker at Duckhorn-the kind that
lends tension and energy to what, on its own,
would be rich valley-floor fruit. This is not a
lean, high-acid cabernet; it's a friendly, welcoming red with freshness amplifying its
magnitude, keeping the wine buoyant and
delicious. -J.G. (W&S 6/20; 800 cases) §
521320

95 | Stag's Leap
Wine Cellars

$295

2017 Napa Valley Cask 23 Cabernet Sau-
vignon ^ On the spring day our panel tasted
this wine, sitting outdoors, the breeze
picked up as we approached this glass, and
it seemed to cool down its intense concentration. As it turned out, that cool concentration stayed with the wine for days after
opening the bottle, a structural component
giving this the clarity and lively power of an
epic Cask 23 vintage. Marcus Notaro finalized the blend at 52 percent from S.L.V. and
48 percent from Fay and aged it almost two
years in new French oak barrels. The tannins
are rich, the aroma smoky, but the bright
liveliness of the fruit-the persimmon, the
cherry and the fresh cigar tobacco-are the
elements that shine through. Youthful and
unevolved, this wine is an investment in the
future, with patient cellaring required. -J.G.
(W&S 10/20; 2,500 cases) §
521319

95 | Stag's Leap
Wine Cellars

$150

2017 Napa Valley Fay Cabernet Sauvignon ^
As Stag's Leap Wine Cellars sets out to celebrate its 50th anniversary, this vintage of
Fay cabernet may be the best wine I've tasted
from that historic vineyard-the site and the
wine that initially convinced Warren Winiarski to purchase the rocky hillside next to
Nathan Fay's vineyard. The soils at Fay are

alluvial, remnants of an ancient riverbed,
unlike the rock that eroded off the Stags Leap
Escarpment and collected at the base of the
hill at S.L.V., Winiarski's original vineyard. In
2017, Fay is the elegant beauty. There's nothing pushy or potent about its complexity, just
a waterfall of minerals and fruits that seems
to continue long after each taste. It would be
hard not to fall in love with this wine's svelte
refinement. Open a bottle and let it lift your
mood. -J.G. (W&S 10/20; 3,140 cases) §
521665

94 | Beringer

$400

2016 Napa Valley Eighth Maker Cabernet
Sauvignon ^ Jacob and Frederick Beringer
left Mainz, Germany, for California in 1869.
They purchased 215 acres on the west side
of St. Helena and built a stone winery on
the site in 1877. Jacob's great-great-grandson, Mark Beringer, took over as winemaker
there in 2015, the eighth since the company's
founding, occasioning the release of this new
wine. While the tannins are ripe and subtle
in their earthy power, this wine goes deep
into plummy flavor (back in the day, Napa
Valley's cash crop was prune plums). It has
the richness of freshly turned soil, grounding
a huge wine so that it feels graceful. There's
nothing Porty or overripe about it; the wine
is just living large. - J.G. §

522020

94 | Crosby Roamann

$90

2018 Napa Valley Crosby's Reserve Caber-
net Sauvignon ^ With a winery based in a
converted warehouse in the city of Napa,
Sean McBride could consider Coombsville
his backyard. The vineyard district in the
hills east of town has become a coveted
source of fruit due to its long growing
season, slowed by the cool bay to the south.
McBride focused this cabernet on fruit from


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Wine & Spirits - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wine & Spirits - December 2020

Contents
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Cover1
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Cover2
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 1
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 2
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Contents
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 4
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 5
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Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Cover3
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Cover4
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