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What to Drink Now: Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

A good bottle of Cab remains a go-to red wine.
By Hayley Hamilton Cogill |

Napa Valley delivers sublime Cabernet Sauvignon options. The joy is finding what your palate prefers. Here are a few to try this season. (Some were sent for editorial consideration.)

Get a taste of all of these delicious wines and more, while helping the Napa Valley community, at Auction Napa Valley May 31 through June 3, presented annually by the Napa Valley Vintners. Details and tickets here.

For lovers of high-elevation mountain fruit, consider Cardinale ($275) which blends five of Napa’s mountain ranges into layers of dried blueberry, leather, cigar box and espresso for an earthy representation of textured, highly structured Cabernet Sauvignon. Or highlighted in individual mountain AVAs, like Cardinale sister wines La Jota ($100) from Howell Mountain and Mt. Brave ($80) from Mount Veeder, both concentrated, dense and divine. Somerston Estate 2013 Celestial Cabernet Sauvignon ($130), in the eastern hills of Napa Valley’s Vaca Mountains, is a concentrated, elegant wine with bold, chewy tannins.

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

If dusty Rutherford is your style, Frank Family Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($98) is an ideal representation of bench land fruit, melding dried fig, blackberry, and spice with the region’s inherent dustiness. Duckhorn showcases ripe fruit and robust tannins in their Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon ($98), showcasing the bold character of the area in an intense, yet delicious wine. Rutherford’s Caspar Estate highlights black cherry, spearmint, and chocolate in their organically certified Cabernet Sauvignon.

Hot days meld with cool nights, ensuring that St. Helena AVA fruit is ripe with an earthy backbone and an overall freshness, giving it unique character. Duckhorn’s 2014 St. Helena Patzimaro Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($98) delivers a wine filled with blackberry and licorice, with an approachable freshness. Marciano Estate, at the base of Spring Mountain, showcases St. Helena fruit in their David Abreu managed vineyard delivering finesse, grace, and style. The black cherry, mocha and savory balsamic notes of their 2014 Cabernet lingers through to a velvety finish.

To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Over 50 years ago Robert Mondavi saw the potential of Oakville fruit, starting his winery in the AVA in the heart of his famed To Kalon Vineyard. Why did he choose this place amongst all others in Napa? The soils, filled with sedimentary deposits of clay, gravel, and sand with excellent drainage creating structured wines with firm tannins. Robert Mondavi 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($175) from the To Kalon Vineyard, layers blackberry, toasted vanilla, and currant. Groth 2014 Reserve Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon ($135) balances black fruit with tannin and earthy minerality for an appealing, inviting wine.

Floral Springs Trilogy ($80) melds Rutherford, St. Helena and Oakville estate fruit for an expressive representation of black fruit, sweet spice, and dark chocolate. Stewart Napa Cabernet ($75) showcases Yountville fruit for a juicy cherry and toasted oak filled wine. Historic Louis M. Martini ($38) blends fruit from throughout the Valley to create a harmonious full-bodied wine.

Cliff Lede Estate Vineyards

Dense, intense Stags Leap District AVA delivers hearty, robust wines with a definite sense of place. Clay and loam filled soils meld with volcanic runoff from the nearby Vaca Mountains creating opulent wines. Shafer 2015 One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon captures this richness in a well structured, highly expressive wine with wet stone, black pepper, and plum on the palate.  Cliff Lede 2015 Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon ($75) opens with aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and lilac leading to layers of blackberry and plum. The upcoming “20th Annual Vineyard to Vintner” celebration April 27 through 29 offers an opportunity for a behind the scenes experience of the Stags Leap District, revealing why this pocket of Napa is truly exceptional. A portion of the proceeds will also go to help with ongoing fire relief efforts. Details and tickets here.

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