2018 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley


Average Purchase Price : $34.16

The alluvial fans of the eroding slopes of the Mayacamas and Vaca mountains that bound Napa Valley on the west and east are arguably the finest land in the world for Cabernet Sauvignon. They are certainly the source of the valley’s most expensive wines. The particular fan where this six barrel lot comes from is west of 29, arrayed skirt-like, bordering the woodlands of the steeper slopes above. This is truly great land and 2018 is a great vintage.

I don’t expect I’ll have the opportunity to pull a rabbit like this out of a hat again; a long friendship with the family who owns this land helped, but as they say, its better to be lucky than good and my call landed at the right moment. It was mid-April and we were all sheltering in place – I emailed the winemaker and a couple days later she dropped off three sample bottles on our front porch. One stood a shoulder above the others and I jumped. She later told me I got it right, which is good to know because the winemaker knows the full wine, not just the snapshot a barrel sample provides.

What I like about this Cabernet (aside from the family and the winemaker) is the vineyard pedigree and a thrilling power thrumming from within a graceful, nuanced presence. With 14.6% Alcohol and a pH of 3.6 you can tell by the numbers it isn’t overly ripe. No bombast in the way Napa Cabernet can at times be faulted for. Nor is this old-school wine. What is it? Extremely well-made wine, true to the nature of the people behind it.

Michael Terrien