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The Rockstar Vintage: Tasting 2016 Cabernet at Premiere Napa Valley

Some people run a marathon once each year. That’s not my speed. Instead, I knuckle down and taste 200 Cabernets for breakfast on one particular Saturday morning.

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 more than 200 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 California wine (many auction lots sell for well over $2000 per bottle).

This afternoon, the Vintners raised more than $4.1 million dollars at the auction, which was a hair less than the $4.2 million earned last year, a bit less than the $5 million raised in 2016, and $6 million earned in 2014 and 2015. I continue to be surprised at the downward trajectory of earnings at this event. If I were a betting man, given the strength of the economy, and the quality of this vintage, I would have expected this year’s take to be an uptick again. I’m somewhat stumped as to the reason for the continued decline in revenues. It does seem to me that there are fewer of the real superstar wineries (extremely allocated, hard to get labels like Scarecrow, Futo, Dalla Valle, etc.) consistently offering auction lots, and these are the ones that push bids into the six figure range. While the Alpha Omega, Rombauer and Vine Hill Ranch lots hit $75,000 apiece (VHR was just 5 cases, making for a bottle price of $1250) and Staglin clocked in at $65k, only Silver Oak’s lot made it to six figures at $110k, and most of the other bids fell below $50k. I haven’t done the analysis, but it may also be that wineries are offering smaller lots, which are in turn resulting in smaller bids.

In any case, the economics of this event interest me much less than the wines on offer. Each of the auction lots at Premiere usually represents something approximating the best possible wine that a given 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.

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In the case of today’s event, the vintage under review was the 2016 vintage, which as vintages go, was about as close to perfect as you get. The most remarkable thing about the 2016 growing season was perhaps the fact that it was unmarked by any extreme weather events other than the ongoing drought. The spring was relatively normal, the summer mild, and things heated up a little towards the end of the summer leading to a steady harvest into October, and plenty of warning for the first rainfall of the season, letting almost everyone get harvest in without a hitch.

The resulting wines are really very, very good. I’d describe them as generous, but beautifully balanced. Acidity was excellent (though one never knows how much of that is nature contributed versus winemaker contributed in general) and tannins are mostly supple, fine grained, and well proportioned. Those who chose to harvest on the earlier side got mouthwatering cherry fruit flavors, and those who waited for more maturity got powerful black cherry and cassis qualities.

Not since the 2013 vintage have I been so excited about the quality of these wines, and, truth be told, I believe 2016 will exceed 2013 in quality if only because it seems almost impossible not to have made excellent wine in 2016. I think it was a very forgiving vintage, allowing those with less skill to make good wines, and those with true talent to make exceptional wines.

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There were many standouts among the wines today, many from unsurprising sources, as well as a few from producers I’m not used to seeing at the top of my lists. Continuum, Corison, Ovid, and Staglin are often among my favorites. Inglenook offered a really gorgeous, racy wine this year, as did O’Shaughnessy, whose red blend of Malbec, St. Macaire, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and other “lesser” Bordeaux varieties was as delicious as it was interesting. Not surprisingly, Schramsberg’s late disgorged sparkling wine showed exceptionally well and made for a delicious palate cleanser amongst the big reds.

As perhaps a more quantitative evaluation of the vintage, it’s worth noting that this year, compared to my notes for the last 10 years of attending this event, contains the single largest number of wines scored at or above 9 on my scale. Let me be blunt: 2016 is a rockstar vintage for Napa. Mark my words.

I continue to watch the evolution of oak usage in these wines with both amusement and fascination. This year’s sampling yielded an interesting inversion of sorts. A number of producers known for their judicious or even rare use of new oak told me specifically that the wine they had produced for this event used more new oak than normal, and deliberately so in the hopes of being more attractive to buyers. On the other hand, I continue to be appreciative of what seems to be a general and gradual moderation in the use of newer oak by many producers, at least for these particular auction wines (no assumptions should be made that this approach will carry over into these producers’ mainstream releases). I continue to be impressed that number of producers are deliberately selecting used or neutral barrels for these wines, which result in wonderfully fresh and pure expressions of fruit that I find much superior to their oak inflected (or overwhelmed) counterparts.

Here are my scores for everything I tasted. The notes in italics after each wine are my brief thoughts made on the spot while tasting. I managed to get through most of, but not all, the 219 wines on offer. 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.

The mainstream releases of the 2016 vintages from these wineries (i.e. the ones that will cost you much less than $800 per bottle) will likely be mostly in the autumn of 2018 or in the months following the spring of 2019.

WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9.5 AND 10
2016 Continuum Estate Red Wine, Napa Valley. A stunner of a wine. Seamless and polished.
2016 Corison Winery “Premiere Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena. Lithe, gorgeous
2016 Inglenook “Cask Block” Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Stony, gorgeous, lean and mouthwatering.
2016 Ovid Napa Valley “MMXVI” Red Wine, Napa Valley. Gorgeous, supple, fantastic fruit with almost no trace of oak influence.
2016 Staglin Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Phenomenally juicy, silky, delicious.
2016 O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery “Best of the Bordeaux Blenders” Red Wine, Howell Mountain. Lovely, expressive, wonderful acids, and a refreshingly unique blend of “lesser” grapes.

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2016 Arietta “First Franc” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. Juicy, bright, herbal.
2016 Arrow & Branch “Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena. Wonderful earthiness matched with ripe fruit
2016 Cliff Lede Vineyards “Diamond Fire” Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Rich, powerful.
2016 Davies Vineyards “McEachran/Aguirre” Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District. Juicy fruit, bright
2016 Davis Estates “The Final Phase” Red Wine, Napa Valley. Bright, delicious.
2016 Dyer Vineyard, Meteor Vineyard “The Wolf Origin” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Very pretty, lush, but with an acidic edge that is very nice.
2016 Flora Springs Winery & Vineyards “Tres Appellations” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Rich, ripe fruit, juicy, with some restraint.
2016 Galerie Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Really pretty, great acidity and balance.
2015 Heritance Vintners “Beckstoffer Georges III” Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Juicy, delicious, with just the right amount of herbal leanness.
2016 Hourglass “Eye of The Beholder” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Bright, juicy, cherry cola
2016 Matthiasson “Dead Fred Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville. Dunno who Fred was, but he’s got some kick. Great acidity and restraint.
2015 Notre Vin “In Memoriam” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Gorgeous, sour cherry, mouthwatering.
1997 Schramsberg Vineyards “Schramsberg Reserve Late Disgorged” Sparkling Wine, Napa Valley. Always fantastic. Yeasty, salty, brioche yumminess.
2016 Stony Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. Juicy, mouthwatering, ripe for this producer.
2016 The Debate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Juicy, with great balance. Rich, but not over the top.
2016 Turnbull Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Bright, juicy, lovely.
2016 Viader Vineyards & Winery “Homenaje” Red Wine, Napa Valley. Very pretty blueish and red fruits. The Malbec shows in this wine.
2016 Volker Eisele Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Chiles Valley District. Gorgeous, supple, cherry cola.

WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2016 Accendo Cellars “Mountain & Bench” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Alpha Omega “Dr. To Kalon” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Rich, ripe, but not over the top.
2016 Antica Napa Valley – Antinori Family Wine Estate “C.S. & F. Ltd” Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak. Young. Needs time, but nice balance.
2016 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Bright, juicy, delicious.
2016 Blackbird Vineyards “Premiere Napa Valley Cuvee” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. Muscular tannins.
2016 Clos Pegase “Les Minéraux” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Coho “SoNa” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Pretty, with nice acidity.
2016 Dakota Shy “Next Chapter” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Darioush Red Wine, Napa Valley. Rich and ripe but with great acidity.
2008 Domaine Chandon Brut Sparkling Wine, Yountville. Deliciously saline and bright.
2016 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley. Plummy and bright but a lot of oak showing.
2016 Ehlers Estate “Block 4” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Farella Vineyard “Terrace Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville. Bright, with more oak than normal, but not overdone. Still, would have preferred less wood.
2016 Favia “The Summit” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. Oak signature but lovely
2016 Freedom Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Quite pretty.
2016 Gemstone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville. Mocha surprise.
2016 HALL “Sacrashe” Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Velvety.
2016 Hewitt Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Jamieson Ranch Vineyards “Redemption” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Quite nice.
2016 JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset “Decadence” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Rich.
2016 Joseph Phelps Vineyards “Backus Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Rich and ripe.
2017 Kale Wines “Heritage McGah Vineyard” Red Wine, Rutherford. A really nice blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Mourvedre.
2016 Keenan Winery “Tribute ll” Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. Bright and juicy.
2016 Kuleto Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Lail Vineyards “Henry VIII” Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley. Juicy, bright, intense, floral
2016 Lang & Reed Wine Company “XX” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. Gorgeous.
2016 Larkmead Vineyards “The Lark Ascending” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Great acidity, very pretty fruit.
2015 LATERAL Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. Juicy.
2016 Lewis Cellars “Premiere” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Juicy.
2016 Luna Vineyards “Riserva” Sangiovese, Napa Valley.
2016 Merus Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville. Pretty.
2016 Mi Sueño Winery “Herrera Selección” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville. Pretty.
2016 Mt. Brave Red Wine, Mount Veeder. Silky, lovely.
2016 Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Fruity, muscular tannins. Lots of wood.
2016 NINE SUNS Grenache, Napa Valley. Juicy, lovely
2016 PlumpJack Winery “East Meets West” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Pretty.
2016 Pott Wine “Being and Time” Red Wine, Mount Veeder. Heidegger would be proud, but that’s just an interpretation.
2016 Pride Mountain Vineyards “Summit Select” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Raymond Vineyards “Masquerade” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2017 Saintsbury Pinot Noir, Los Carneros. Quite pretty.
2016 Seavey Vineyard “Franco-Swiss Terrace Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Fantastic; fine, grained tannins.
2016 Shafer Vineyards “Sunspot Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Very rich.
2016 SODHANI Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery “Spring Creek Vineyard” Petite Sirah, St. Helena. Restrained and deep, with well managed tannins.
2016 Spring Mountain Vineyard “Fog Line” Red Wine, Spring Mountain District. Really nice acidity and cool fruits.
2016 Stone The Crows Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Rich and ripe, but delicious.
2016 Switchback Ridge “Anniversary Blend” Red Wine, Calistoga. Juicy, delicious.
2016 Terra Valentine “Earth, Sea and Sky” Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. Tasty.
2016 TEXTBOOK “Paris Accord Fake Wine” Red Wine, Oakville. Lovely restrained, juicy
2016 The Hess Collection Winery “Ridge 4” Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder. Juicy with lots of blue fruits.
2016 Tierra Roja Vineyards “Ames Straight” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Perfumed.
2016 Trefethen Family Vineyards “Celebrating 50 Years” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Balanced bright
2016 Vine Cliff Winery “Memories” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Very pretty.
2016 Vineyard 29 “The St. Helena Special” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 William Hill Estate Winery “The Notch” Red Wine, Napa Valley.

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2016 Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards “JYGNTOR” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Artesa Vineyards & Winery Red Wine, Napa Valley.
2016 AXR Winery “Sleeping Pritchard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Barlow Vineyards “Vineyard 4415” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Boeschen Vineyards “Gullwing Amalgam” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 Boich Family Cellar “Proprietor’s Barrel” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Bougetz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District.
2016 Buehler Vineyards “Kindly Well” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Buena Vista Winery “The First” Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District.
2016 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 CAMi Vineyards “THS” Red Wine, Calistoga.
2016 Chappellet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Chimney Rock Winery “North to South” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Clos Du Val “Full Circle” Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Fairly ripe and missing the leanness we’re used to from Clos du Val.
2016 Correlation Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Rich
NV Courtesan “Veronica” Red Wine, Napa Valley.
2016 Emerson Brown Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Foley Johnson Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Freemark Abbey “VanZ Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 Ghost Block & Markham Vineyards Red Wine, Napa Valley.
2016 Girard Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Oaky
2016 Groth Vineyards & Winery “Sweet Spot” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Hertelendy Vineyards “L’Éternité” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Ideology Cellars “Cento” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley.
2016 Jean Edwards Cellars “Trois II” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Kelly Fleming Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga.
2016 Kenefick Ranch Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga.
2016 La Jota Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain. Heavily oaked, but great fruit.
2017 Leaf And Vine “Unicorn Tears” Chardonnay, Oakville.
2016 Long Meadow Ranch Winery “Bear Canyon Vineyard” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley.
2016 Louis M. Martini Winery “254 Blend” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Materra, Cunat Family Vineyards Merlot, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley.
2016 Miner Family Winery “Three’s Company” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Nemerever Vineyards “Hillside” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Newton Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Oakville East Exposure “Harter Hill” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Paradigm Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Paraduxx Red Wine, Napa Valley.
2016 PEJU “60/40 Heart & Soul” Red Wine, Napa Valley.
2016 Pine Ridge Vineyards “5×5” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Progeny Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder.
2016 Provenance Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Round Pond Estate “SVS Gravel Series” Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2015 Schweiger Vineyards “Mr. Hyde’s Blend” Red Wine, Spring Mountain District.
2016 Sciandri Family Vineyards “I Am Delicious” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville.
2016 Silverado Vineyards “Limited” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery “Louis XIV” Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars “S.L.V. First Growth Cabernet Franc” Cabernet Franc, Stags Leap District.
2016 Stags’ Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District.
2016 Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Stewart Cellars “NOMAD Heritage Blend” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Titus Vineyards “Ehlers Lane Hillside Block” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Truchard Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Los Carneros. Earthy and restrained.
2016 Twomey Cellars Red Wine, Napa Valley. Oaky.
2016 VHR, Vine Hill Ranch “Assessment” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Vineyard 7&8 “Homestead” Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. Super rich
2016 von Strasser & Lava Vine Winery “So Sori” Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District.
2016 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Y. Rousseau Wines “Les Deux Montagnes” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2015 Yao Family Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.

WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2016 Amici Cellars “Missouri Hopper” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Very ripe
2016 Axios Napa Valley “Tridelphia” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Barnett Vineyards “Mountain Meets Valley” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Ripe.
2016 Bell Wine Cellars, Hoopes Vineyard, Mira Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville.
2016 Bella Union Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Buoncristiani Family Winery “A Tale of Two Mountains” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Burgess Cellars “Brush Breaker” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Heavily oaked.
2016 Ca’ Momi Pinot Noir, Los Carneros.
2016 Cain Vineyard & Winery “François’ Pick” Petit Verdot, Spring Mountain District.
2016 Calla Lily Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Faust “The Pact Barrel Selection” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville.
2016 Frank Family Vineyards “Winston Hill” Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Grgich Hills Estate “Paradise Block Old Vine Cabernet” Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville. Struck match smokiness with a bit of funk.
2017 Hestan Vineyards “Estate” Grenache, Napa Valley.
2016 Honig Vineyard & Winery “Campbell Hillside Cabernet” Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Jarvis “Frankly Franc” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley.
2016 Krupp Brothers “The Brothers’ Choice” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Mario Bazán Cellars “Mario Bazán Premiere Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Monticello Vineyards “Block 2” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. Ripe
2016 Mount Veeder Winery Red Wine, Mount Veeder. Tannic.
2016 Nellcôte “Tumbling Dice” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Palazzo Wine “Midnight Angel” Cabernet Franc, Los Carneros.
2016 Paul Hobbs Winery “Nathan Coombs Estate” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville.
2017 Pellet Estate “The ‘A.K.'” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 Porter Family Vineyards “Lion’s Lair” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville.
2016 Quixote Winery Petite Sirah, Stags Leap District.
2016 Reynolds Family Winery “CFMR16” Red Wine, Napa Valley.
2016 Robert Craig Winery Red Wine, Howell Mountain.
2016 Rutherford Hill Winery “Rutherford Dust” Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 S. R. Tonella Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Swanson Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Tamber Bey Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Terlato Vineyards “EPISODE” Red Wine, Napa Valley.
NV ZD Wines “Petit Abacus” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2016 Anthem Winery And Vineyards, Llc Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder. Too ripe
2017 Bouchaine Vineyards “Best Barrel” Pinot Noir, Los Carneros.
2016 Hesperian Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak.
2016 J. Moss Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Quilt Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Ripe. Too much so.
2016 Red Mare Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Rocca Family Vineyards “Grigsby Vineyard Old Vines Winemaker’s Barrel” Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville. Too ripe for me.
2016 Rubissow “Hawkwind” Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder.
2017 Schermeister Cellars “Oak Before Smoke” Chardonnay, Atlas Peak.
2016 Starmont Winery & Vineyards “Stanly Ranch Estate” Pinot Noir, Los Carneros.
2016 Taplin Cellars “Ethel Lewelling Taplin” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 Tate Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.

WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2015 Casa Nuestra Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. Too grapey.
2016 JAX Vineyards “Block 3” Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga. Too ripe.
2016 Metaphora Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Raisined
2016 Palmaz Vineyards “T-Block” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Too raisined for my tastes.
2016 Rombauer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak. Too ripe, too sweet