It’s Cabernet season in Napa Valley, which means it’s the perfect time of year to stock up on cellar-worthy selections for yourself, or as gifts for other wine enthusiasts in your life. Of the new releases I’ve tried, these are my favorites. They’re likely to be some of your favorites, too. (Some choices were sent for editorial consideration.)
ZD Winery has been around for 50 years, and they incorporate lots of fruits from across the Valley to create their Cabernet Sauvignon ($75.) The wine is textured and complex, with toasted spice and vanilla, enhanced by 22-months American oak aging.
This wine was originally created in 2011 to honor the 50th harvest of the Scotto Family in Napa, the 2014 J. McClelland Cellars “50 Harvests” ($60,) but is now produced with the help of Winemaker Mitch Costentino, and blends predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with Petit Verdot for a concentrated, tannin-filled wine, leading with power, but finishing with grace.
From the best of the best, 2014 Rombauer Estate Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon ($100) blends valley floor fruit from St. Helena, Calistoga, and Stags Leap creating a savory wine, with woody herb, black fruits, and dried tobacco.
2015 Ehlers Estate 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon ($125,) from their organically grown St. Helena estate, seamlessly melds red and black fruit, layering tannins with acidity for a beautifully well-rounded palate.
Aged one year in oak casks, and two years in French oak barrels, 2013 Heitz Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($54) has a backbone of tannic structure, making it delicious now, but also worthy of aging.
The 2014 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($160) defines elegance, with luscious texture, and structure, highlighting the diversity of the winery’s Calistoga estate vineyards.
Silky Groth Oakville Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($140) delivers gorgeous aromas of rose and violet, melding with milk chocolate, nutmeg, and clove.
Round Pond Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon ($75,) reveals ripe black fruit, nutmeg, cocoa and vanilla.
Dry-farmed Frog’s Leap Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon leans toward subtly, without overpowering the palate with alcohol or overly ripe flavors, making it easy to enjoy from the start of a meal to the end. The $55 a bottle wine is a steal for this quality.
Earthy, Rutherford Ranch Proprietor’s Selection Cabernet Sauvignon ($55) melds dried cherry, prune, and blackberry with dusty leather.
From the Stags Leap District AVA, layering dried wildflowers, licorice, and cassis, 2014 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon ($295) showcases the warmth of the vintage, with strong ripe fruit notes, mellowed with toasted spice and tobacco notes.
Licorice and blackberry filled Clos du Val Hirondelle Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($130) reveal the complexity their Stags Leap estate delivers to Cabernet.
For Stags Leap lovers, the region packaged a selection of seventeen 2015 vintage wines from the district’s wineries. The collection includes the Hirondelle from Clos du Val and Shafer One Point Five, along with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars “FAY” and Stags’ Leap Winery “The Leap” to name a few, each highlighting the district’s terroir. Available through December 15 here.
The rugged slopes of Napa’s volcanic mountain AVAs give depth, minerality, and structure to luscious fruit.
Stony Hill Vineyard, captures an Old World, restrained style in their Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($76) with focused, delicate refinement.
Mount Veeder’s Brandlin “Henry’s Keep” Proprietary Blend ($110) opens with fragrant wildflowers, leading to a robust, powerful palate with ripe cherry, roasted coffee, and mocha.
From Atlas Peak, Acumen Edcora Vineyard ($150) highlights iron-rich mountain soils, marrying with red fruits, eucalyptus, and mint.
Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon ($235) pulls earthy graphite from the soils, melding with currant, plum, and toasted cedar.
Black fruit melds with powerful tannins from high-elevations in Long Meadow Ranch’s E.J. Church Reserve Mayacamus Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($125.)
On Howell Mountain, La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon ($125) layers chocolate, espresso, cherry, and cedar. Blackberry and raspberry join harmoniously with earthy minerality in Duckhorn Howell Mountain Cabernet ($98.)
Fort Worth-born actor, Fess Parker, was famous for portraying Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in the 1950s and 1960s, but his later work in wine captured the next generation’s attention. He began his Santa Barbara winery in 1989. Now, his children continue his legacy with Napa Valley’s Addendum, focusing on small productions of single vineyard wines. Addendum Skellenger Lane Cabernet ($95) melds blackberry, fig, and dried herbs.