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02.25.2016

A Look at 2014 Napa Cabernet: Tasting at Premiere Napa Valley

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Each year, the Napa Valley Vintners Association pulls out all the stops to host its annual fundraising event known as Premiere Napa Valley. Not to be confused with its star-studded charity auction in the spring (known as Auction Napa Valley), Premiere Napa Valley is a more focused event. It is a barrel tasting and auction, in which the wines on offer are all unique creations made specifically and only for this event, offering purchasers the opportunity to own an incredibly rare wine that often represents the very pinnacle of the winemaker's efforts in that vintage. All the invited bidders are ostensibly in the wine trade (retailers, distributors, etc.), while other attendees include the media and winery staff. The proceeds from the auction of 225 unique lots of wine go to help fund the Vintners Association itself.

The auction action at Premiere always serves as something of a barometer for California wine, measuring both the strength of the Napa brand in the marketplace, as well as the interest in the upper echelon of fine wine (many auction lots sell for well over $2000 per bottle).

Last Saturday, the Vintners raised $5 million dollars at the auction, which was down from the last couple years of auction totals which were $6.0 in 2015 and $5.9 million in 2014. I'm not entirely sure to what we should chalk up the reduction in proceeds, except perhaps a combination of some uncertainty about the economy and having to follow one of the greatest vintages in recent memory.

Each of the 225 auction lots usually represents something approximating the best possible wine that the winery can make in the vintage. Consequently, the wines offer a unique window into the pinnacle of quality for that particular vintage.

Every year, I attend Premiere with the goal of tasting as many of these wines as I can, in an effort to get a bead on the vintage as a whole in Napa.

In the case of last weekend's event, the vintage in question was 2014, which, had it occurred a decade earlier would have been heralded as one of the best vintages in years. Coming on the heels of the spectacular 2013 vintage, it suffers slightly by comparison. The harvest was smaller than 2013, and featured a very hot summer, but, like 2013, Napa avoided inclement weather during harvest, and the quality of fruit brought in by most wineries was superb.

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So what does the best of 2014 Napa Cabernet taste like? Juicy and very pretty. The most successful wines have great balance, excellent acidity, and their tannic structures are wonderfully fine and smooth. Some producers seemed to have trouble taming the tannins that might have resulted from the Summer's heat, and a few clearly ended up with over-ripe fruit (to my palate) though whether that was by choice or by neglect there's no way of knowing.

As in 2013, the wines also seemed to continue a trend of better integrated oak. Sure, there are still those that insist on smacking you over the head with a 2x4, but most wines managed to show some restraint (though it must be said that all these wines will spend another 8 months at least in their barrels). I chalk this up to a combination of the quality of the vintage's fruit, which when well-balanced can handle more oak, and (dare I hope?) some increasing restraint by vintners backing away from their past excesses.

No matter where the truth lies, the 2014 wines are excellent, and to the extent that this sample is truly representative of the vintage, it is one that will make most wine lovers quite happy.

The event also often serves to introduce me to new producers with whom I was previously unfamiliar. This year did not disappoint in this department. There are now several new names to whom I will be paying close attention thanks to the quality of what I tasted last Saturday. In particular, I'm excited to learn more about Vice Versa, Perliss Estate, Anthem, Galerie, and Kale.

Here are my tasting notes for everything I tasted. The notes in italics after each wine are my brief thoughts made on the spot while tasting. By tasting a bunch of wines on Friday afternoon, as well as during the Saturday main event, I was able to get through 224 of the 226 wines (the missing two wines were poured-out by the time I reached them). Note that anyone interested in getting ahold of the wines below can discover their availability through Premiere Napa Wines, a web site designed to connect successful bidders with consumers who may want to purchase the wines.

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WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9.5 AND 10

2014 Acumen "2+2+2+2" Red Wine, Napa Valley
Juicy, bright, fine grained tannins, super mouthwateringly yummy.

2014 Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate "The Debut" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Bright, juicy, light on its feet. Well integrated oak, sweet cherry fruit. Fresh.

2014 Barbour "Man Cave Blend" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Gorgeous, bright, lush, but beautifully balanced. Yummy.

2014 Continuum Estate Red Wine, Napa Valley
Gorgeous, long, supple, phenomenal balance and deliciousness.

2014 Farella Vineyard "Terrace Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville
Gorgeous floral, bright, juicy, lean, awesome.

2014 Notre Vin "On a Saturday afternoon" Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
Wonderfully floral, bouncy, great balance.

1990 Schramsberg Vineyards "J. Shram Late Disgorged" Sparkling Wine, Napa Valley
Nutty, butterscotch and marzipan. Saline and delicious.

2014 Vice Versa "Heart & Soul" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Gorgeous, bright, juicy, fantastic. Black cherry velvety tannins, long rich good acidity and balance.

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5

2014 Antica Napa Valley - Antinori Family Wine Estate "II Presidente" Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak
Smooth, savory sweet and bright.

2014 CADE Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
Juicy, bright, fresh, yummy.

2013 Chappellet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Rich, black, smoky cherry. Delicious.

2014 Clos Du Val Wine Co. Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
Brilliant, juicy, bright, fine tannins.

2014 Coho "Michael Black's Best Last Vintage" Merlot, Coombsville
Juicy, cherry goodness.

2014 Corison Winery "Premiere Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Bright, fresh, floral.

2014 Davies Vineyards "J. Davies Estate- Jamie's Block" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District
Bright, floral, mouthwatering.

2014 Keever Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville
Bring that pure cherry, smooth, velvety. Gorgeous. Great acid.

2014 Larkmead Vineyards "A5W" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Juicy, tight, bright, nice stoniness.

2014 Matthiasson "Three Sisters" Red Wine, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley
Light bodied, stony, earthy, floral, gorgeous.

2014 Memento Mori "Inebriari In Vitae " Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Smooth operator. Supple, juicy.

2014 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder
Juicy, tightly wound. Give it some time, and wow.

2014 PATEL -- Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville
Lush bright, juicy, and oh-so-tasty.

2014 Perliss Estate "The Ravens, Amphora" Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
Beautiful, juicy, restrained and powerful at the same time. Aged in terra cotta.

2014 Pride Mountain Vineyards "Summit Select" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Fantastically aromatic.

NV Seavey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Unusual blend, deep and complex.

2014 Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Bright floral, beautiful.

2014 Spring Mountain Vineyard "Fogline" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District
Wonderful balance earthy, fine tannins. Long.

2015 Stony Hill Vineyard Chardonnay, Spring Mountain District
Killer, lean, pithy, grapefruit and lemon.

2014 Tierra Roja Vineyards "Collaboration" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
Bright juicy cherry, long finish.

2014 Turnbull Wine Cellars "Leopoldina Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
Rich, with a little oak influence, but delicious.

2014 Varozza Vineyards "The Virtuoso" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Gorgeous. Lean, fresh, juicy, fine grained tannins.


WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2014 Alpha Omega "Dr. To Kalon" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Sweet fruit, plush tannins.
2014 Anthem Winery And Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder - Juicy black cherry
2014 Arietta "XX" Red Wine, Napa Valley - Juicy, bright. Nutty.
2014 Arkenstone Vineyards "One Point Twenty-One Gigawatts" Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain - Dark cherry, great balance
2015 Baldacci Family Vineyards "Frederich" Gewurztraminer, Los Carneros - Floral, bright, good acid. Very fresh.
2014 Barnett Vineyards "Rattlesnake Blend" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District - Sweet cherry
2014 Beaulieu Vineyard "Heart and Soul" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford - Fresh, juicy, cool cherry
2014 Bell Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford - Restrained, lighter, claret-style with herbs. Juicy.
2013 Cain Vineyard & Winery "La Piedra - The Heart of Cain Vineyard" Red Wine, Spring Mountain District - Lean and juicy, with a nutty, earthy note and herbs. Best in years. Savory.
2014 Chateau Boswell Winery Red Wine, Napa Valley - Juicy, bright, yummy.
2014 Cliff Lede Vineyards "Cinnamon Devil" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District - Cherry, earth, great acidity, length.
2014 Coup De Foudre Winery "Lightning Bolt" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Rich, plush, juicy.
2014 Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder - Ripe, lush, but with good balance.
2008 Domaine Chandon "Library Selection Cuvée 8" Sparkling Wine, Napa Valley - Tasty, toasty, lean and clean.
2014 Ehlers Estate "Block 4" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena - Juicy, bright, floral.
2014 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Cola, juicy.
2015 Galerie Riesling, Napa Valley - Gorgeous! Everyone must try this! A PROPER Riesling.
2014 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena - Tight and juicy.
2014 HALL "Sacrashe" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Needs some time, but lush fruit in the fist of tight tannins, and good acidity.
2014 Herb Lamb Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Plush, velvety, very juicy
2014 Howell at the Moon, Kelleher Family Vineyards, Peacock Family Vineyard "Three Sum" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Rich, bright, but needs time, serious tannins.
2014 HUNNICUTT Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Sweet, bright fruit, yummy.
2014 Inglenook "Creek" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford - A bit of black olive and herbs. Nice. Long haul wine.
2014 Kale Wines "Broken Axle" Red Wine, Napa Valley - Juicy and bright.
2014 Kenefick Ranch Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga - Tight tannins, pure cherry, tobacco.
2014 Kuleto Estate "El Hombro" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Juicy, bright, dark cherry, leathery tannins.
2014 La Jota Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain - Juicy and tasty.
2014 Morlet Family Vineyards "Le Fabuleux Franc" Cabernet Franc, Oakville - Cherry, very cola, bright.
2014 O'Shaughnessy Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Juicy, slightly sweet, plush.
2014 Ovid Napa Valley "S.P.Q.R." Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Rich cola and black cherry.
2014 Paraduxx Red Wine, Napa Valley - Juicy, yummy.
2014 Parallel Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Fresh, rich.
2014 Realm Cellars "Absurd the Rhinoceros" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Sweet fruit, and very pretty but would be better with a little less oak.
2014 Rocca Family Vineyards "Collinetta" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville - Bouncy and tasty.
2014 Rubissow "Hawkwind" Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder - Fresh, bright, juicy.
2014 Somerston Estate "Celestial - Block 94" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Juicy, bright, yummy.
2014 Stags' Leap Winery Red Wine, Stags Leap District - Cola, cherry, bright.
2014 Swanson Vineyards "Collaboration" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Sweet fruit, juicy, tight tannins.
2014 Tate Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena - Yummy black cherry.
2014 The Debate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Sweet, juicy, bright.
2014 THE GRADE Cellars "Fourteener" Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga - Ripe, juicy, big-but-not-offensive.
2014 The Hess Collection Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder - Juicy, smooth.
2014 TOR Kenward Family Wines "The Magic" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Cola, cherry, bright, and a hint of oak.
2014 Tuck Beckstoffer Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Juicy, suede tannins. Bright.
2014 Vineyard 29 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Rich, ripe, plush.
2014 Vineyard 7&8 "Homestead" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District - Juicy and rich. Black cherry burst.
2014 Volker Eisele Family Estate Cabernet Franc, Chiles Valley District - Plush, lovely. Good acid.
2014 White Rock Vineyards Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley - Sweet fruit, nicely restrained oak.


WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2015 Acacia Vineyard "Winery Lake" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros - Pretty.
2014 Aiken Wines "Morisoli" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford - Plush, juicy.
2014 Amici Cellars "Missouri Hopper" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Dark cherry, cocoa.
2015 Ancien Wines "Cendres à l'Océan" Pinot Noir, Napa Valley - Super juicy, cranberry, raspberry.
2014 Arrow&Branch "Beckstoffer Dr. Crane & Oakville Ranch Blend" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Very ripe.
2014 Benessere "Cabernet Sauvignon / Aglianico Blend" Red Wine, St. Helena - Fun, distinctive.
2014 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Sweet black cherry, integrated oak.
2014 Blackbird Vineyards Red Wine, Napa Valley - Smoky, struck match, deep fruit.
2014 Boeschen Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena - Smoky.
2014 Cairdean Estate "Acquaintance Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville - Juicy bright, lean. Heavy oak.
2015 Chase Cellars "Hayne Vineyard" Zinfandel, St. Helena - Sweet blackberry pie.
2014 Chimney Rock Winery "Ganymede" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District - Cherry cola.
2014 Conn Creek Winery "UnCONNventional" Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley - Juicy plummy, nutty.
2014 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Rich, tight tannins.
2014 Davis Estates "Cellarium Mystery" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Rich and ripe cola cola cola.
2014 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley - Plummy and juicy.
2015 Elizabeth Spencer Sauvignon Blanc, Rutherford - Juicy.
2014 Entre Nous Red Wine, Oakville - Juicy and rich.
2014 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Dark and tasty. Tight tannins.
2014 Fairchild Napa Valley "Stones No. 3" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Rich, ripe, plush.
2014 FARM Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley - Rich, cola, cocoa.
2014 Flywine "The Aspired" Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder - Smoky, juicy, oak.
2014 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Juicy!
2014 Freedom Estate Wine Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Rich, suede.
2014 Gandona Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Rich, cola, cocoa, meaty.
2014 Ghost Block and Markham Red Wine, Yountville - Smooth.
2014 Hestan Vineyards "Estate Selection" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Very ripe, but enough zip to keep interest.
2014 Hewitt Vineyard and Provenance Vineyards "Peaks and Valleys" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Bright and smooth.
2014 Honig Vineyard & Winery "Westside Trio" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Gorgeous fruit but just too much oak. Still pretty.
2014 Italics Winegrowers "Numbers" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville - Juicy, cherry cola.
2014 Jamieson Ranch Vineyards "Stagecoach" Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak - Juicy. Tight tannins.
2014 Laird Family Estate "Flat Rock Ranch Proprietary Blend" Red Wine, Yountville - Juicy, very aggressive tannins.
2014 Merus Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville - Plush, rich.
2014 Miner Family Winery "One Hundred Percent" Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak - Nutty, cherry oak.
2014 Monticello Vineyards "The Virginian" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford - Silky, juicy.
2014 Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder - Smooth taut, earthy.
2014 Nemerever Vineyards "Block 3" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Fresh, bright.
2014 Oakville Ranch Vineyards "Cole Cannonball" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Juicy rich. Tight tannins.
2014 Pahlmeyer Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Massive, rich. Oaky.
2014 Palmaz Vineyards "Historic Hagen's Block" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville - Juicy tangy.
2014 Paradigm Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Sweet fruit.
2014 Pellet Estate "The Mayor" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena - Ripe, juicy.
2014 Quixote Winery Petite Sirah, Stags Leap District - Massive, rich.
2014 Reynolds Family Winery "OZ" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District - Juicy, cream sherry finish. Lots of oxygen here.
2014 Robert Mondavi Winery "Monastery Block, To Kalon Vineyard" Red Wine, Oakville - Cola, bright cherry.
2014 Round Pond Estate "Gravel Trio" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Sweet and slightly over-oaked.
2015 Saintsbury "Lee Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros - Juicy, mineral, fine grained tannins.
2014 Schermeister Cellars "Gone Wild" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros - Raspberry, bright cranberry.
2014 Shafer Vineyards "Sunspot Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District - Cola, cherry, wood.
2014 Signorello Estate "Cuvee Athena" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Cola and juicy.
2014 Silver Oak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Pretty, with more restrained oak!
2014 Spoto Family Wines "Intentionally Unintentional " Red Wine, Oakville - Plush, bright, cola.
2014 Sterling Vineyards "Old Friends" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Juicy, plush.
2014 Taplin Cellars "Ethel Lewelling Taplin" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena - Tight, juicy, angular.
2014 Terra Valentine "Fleur de Lys" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District - Juicy, bright, tight tannins.
2014 Tournesol "Vertices" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville - A little sour cherry in there with the ripe cherry.
2014 Trefethen Family Vineyards "Perfect Timing " Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley - Tight, lean, fine grained.
2014 Twomey Cellars Malbec, Napa Valley - Nutty.
2014 VHR, Vine Hill Ranch "Assessment" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Rich.


WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2014 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards "Blocks 3 & 7" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Very ripe, sweet, oak. Lots.
2015 Artesa Winery "Estate Vineyard Block 91D" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros - Sweet cherry.
2014 Axios "Heart of Axios" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Ripe.
2014 Bello Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford - Very sweet, but nice fruit.
2014 Bougetz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District - Suede tannins.
2014 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Struck match, ripe fruit.
2014 Copper Cane Wines & Provisions "Beran" Zinfandel, Napa Valley - Blackberry!
2015 Coquerel Family Wine Estates "Terroir Walnut Wash" Sauvignon Blanc, Calistoga - Fresh, chalky, bright.
2014 Frank Family Vineyards "Winston Hill " Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford - Sweet.
2014 Girard Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Ripe, plummy.
2015 Grgich Hills Estate "40th Anniversary of The Judgement of Paris Tasting" Chardonnay, Los Carneros - Lean, chalky.
2014 Hesperian Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak - Ripe, plush.
2014 Hiatus Cellars "THE FOUNDATION" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Super ripe.
2014 Hoopes Vineyard "The Short Rows" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Struck match, tight.
2014 Ideology Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley - Oaky.
2014 Joseph Phelps Vineyards "Backus Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Smoky oak, ripe fruit.
2014 Keenan Winery "Full Size Beauty" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District - Heavily oaked, but well made.
2014 Krupp Brothers "The Doctor & the Bandit" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Ripe, thick.
2015 Lang & Reed Wine Company "Lost but Found" Chenin Blanc, Napa Valley - Juicy apple and pear.
2014 Long Meadow Ranch Winery "Rutherford Estate" Merlot, Rutherford - Smoky, tight tannins.
2014 Louis M. Martini Winery "254 Blend" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Nutty, oaky, bright
2014 Madrigal Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Smoky.
2014 Merryvale Vineyards "Schlatter Family Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena - Plush, very oaky.
2012 Michael Mondavi Family Estate "Crown Block" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Grapey, ripe, tight.
2014 Nickel & Nickel "John C. Sullenger Special" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Drying tannins. Lots of oak.
2014 Oakville East Exposure "Majek" Cabernet Franc, Oakville - Oaky and sweet.
2015 Patland Estate Vineyards Malbec, Napa Valley - Plush, boysenberry, good acid.
2014 Pine Ridge Vineyards "5x5" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Super bright, but too much oak.
2014 Progeny Winery White Wine, Mount Veeder - Apple and pear.
2014 Raymond Vineyards "Masquerade" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Boysenberry.
2014 Sequoia Grove Winery "Christian Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville - Smoky.
2013 Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District - Cassis, suede tannins. SweetTart-ness.
2015 Truchard Vineyards Pinot Noir, Los Carneros - Cranberry.
2014 von Strasser Winery "Estate Vineyard's Final Bow" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District - Sour cherry, tobacco.
2014 William Cole Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Tight.


WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2014 Bacio Divino Cellars "Beckstoffer Heritage blend" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Super-ripe.
2014 Black Stallion Winery "Unison" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Massive. Not in a good way.
2015 Bouchaine Vineyards "Best Barrel" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros - Tart.
2014 Broman Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Too oaky.
2014 BRYTER Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Fleshy, needs more acid.
2014 Buoncristiani Family Winery "The Four B's" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Blackberry.
2014 Ca' Momi Pinot Noir, Los Carneros - Rich.
2014 Celani Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville - Fruity, grapey.
2014 Foley Johnson Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford - Angular.
2014 Groth Vineyards & Winery "Sweet Spot" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Tight, narrow.
2014 JAX Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga - Green pepper, cherry.
2014 Kelly Fleming Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga - Super-ripe.
2014 Leto Cellars "The Elder" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena - Sweet, rich.
2014 Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Super-ripe, oaky.
2014 Luna Vineyards "Canto" Sangiovese, Napa Valley - Smooth.
2015 Materra, Cunat Family Vineyards "Block 2, Barrel Fermented" Merlot, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley - Plush.
2014 Priest Ranch "Coach Gun" Red Wine, Napa Valley - Plush, ripe.
2013 Prime Solum "Block 1" Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley - Nutty, oaky.
2014 Red Mare Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Plush. Needs acid.
2014 Rombauer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena - Extremely sweet.
2014 Rutherford Hill Winery Merlot, Rutherford - Ripe, tight.
2014 S.R. tonella "Estate" Cab, Rutherford - Ripe.
2014 Saint Helena Winery "Block 1" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena - Massive tannins, somewhat overwhelm fruit.
2014 Sciandri Family Vineyards "Mescolanza " Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville - Tight.
2014 St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford - Sweet and simultaneously meaty.
2014 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars "FAY Edge" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District - Struck match, some heat.
2014 Starmont Winery & Vineyards "Stanly Ranch Estate" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros - Cranberry.
2014 Tamber Bey Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Very ripe, rich.
2014 Terlato Family Vineyards "Estate Blend 715" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Bitter, cherry, thick, tight tannins.
2013 Vineyard 511 "PNV Barrel Select" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District - Grapey, ripe.
2014 Whitehall Lane "Six Shooter" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Grapey.


WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2014 Caspar Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford - Overripe.
2014 Clos Pegase "Heart of the Canyon" Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga - Raisined.
2014 Croze Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Too ripe, plummy.
2014 Freemark Abbey "York Creek Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District - Over-oaked.
2013 Hopper Creek Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville - Raisined.
2014 Jones Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga - Waaaay too ripe.
2015 Madonna Estate Pinot Noir, Los Carneros - Light, raspberry, narrow.
2014 Newton Vineyard "Block 203" Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder - Super-ripe, oaky.
2014 Nine Suns "HOUYI Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Overripe.
2014 Paul Hobbs "Nathan Coombs Estate, Block 5" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville - Raisined, over-oaked.
2014 PEJU "Persephone Vineyard" Petit Verdot, Napa Valley - Very drying tannins. Too much wood.
2014 Sodaro Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville - Sweet.
2014 VinRoc Wine Caves "Coyote's Howl" Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak - Struck match.
2014 William Hill Estate Winery "Bench Blend" Red Wine, Napa Valley - Very sweet.
Non-vintage ZD Wines "Petit Abacus" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Nutty, heavy, heavy oak.


WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2014 Aloft Wine Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain - Super-ripe. Over the top.
2014 Buehler Vineyards "Kindly Well" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Smoky. Meaty, too fleshy.
2014 Burgess Cellars "Sunset Slope" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Raisined, oaky.
2013 Havens Winery "Meritage" Red Wine, Spring Mountain District - Raisined.
2014 Jarvis "PVNV" Petit Verdot, Napa Valley - All wood, scarce fruit.
2014 Mi Sueño Winery "Seleccion Herrera" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Super sweet, over-oaked.

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Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud