Mur­phy’s top 40 Cal­i­for­nia Caber­nets

Wines from the 2015 vin­tage, listed by re­gion

Decanter - - VINTAGE REPORT -

Napa Val­ley Kapc­sándy Fam­ily Win­ery, Grand Vin,

Yountville 96 N/A UK www. kapc­sandy­ Pure, fo­cused, re­fined and en­er­getic; it’s hard to be­lieve this came from such an in­tense vin­tage. The fam­ily’s State Lane Vine­yard is the source of their red grapes, and Mer­lot adds sup­ple­ness. Black rasp­berry, Asian spice, mod­est oak, firm acid and tan­nin back­bone, with a juicy, racy fin­ish, make it a joy to drink now and well into the fu­ture. Drink 2020-2032 Al­co­hol 14% Car­di­nale 94 £ 166-£ 250 (2014) Crump Rich­mond Shaw, Farr Vint­ners, Grand Vin, Mil­lésima It’s the rare Napa Cab that drinks beau­ti­fully on re­lease and then through a decade or more. De­can­dently plush and juicy, with lifted flo­ral aro­mas and smooth, seam­less tan­nins. This sports great verve and pol­ish on the palate, with oak, ripeness, acid­ity and al­co­hol all in bal­ance. Drink 2019-2029 Alc 14.7% In­glenook, Ru­bi­con, Rutherford 94 N/A UK www. in­ Owner Francis Ford Cop­pola has a gem with wine­maker Chris Phelps, for­merly of Swanson Vine­yards, Domi­nus and Petrus. He joined in 2016, work­ing with Château Mar­gaux’s Philippe Bas­caules to re­shape wine­mak­ing here. The Cabs are fresher, more el­e­gant and bal­anced; this 2015 is fleshy and gen­er­ous, with­out be­ing ex­tracted. Drink 2019-2029 Alc 14.5%

Lokoya, Spring Moun­tain District 94 £ 333-£ 350 (2014) Fine & Rare, Christo­pher Keiller Credit high-el­e­va­tion grape-grow­ing for this tightly wound, al­most brood­ing wine un­der which lurks suc­cu­lent, vi­brant wild berry fruit and lively acid­ity to match. Im­pec­ca­bly bal­anced for its size, it still begs to be cel­lared for at least five years and de­canted. Still, it’s the most ap­proach­able of the four Lokoya Cabs from the moun­tains. Drink 2024-2034 Alc 14.5% New­ton Vine­yard, Yountville 93 £ 124-£ 154 (2014) Jus­terini & Brooks, Christo­pher Keiller Of New­ton’s three AVA-spe­cific Caber­nets, the Yountville is the most im­pres­sive at this stage. Fresh laven­der and dried herb aro­mas get a smoky-oak ac­cent, while the palate of­fers ➢

cool than blue the nose and black sug­gests. fruit, Poised, with less pure choco­late and oak com­plete. Drink 2020-2031 Alc 14% Pine Ridge Vine­yards, Stags Leap District 93 £ 152.99 (2014) Lib­erty Wines Small amounts of Petit Ver­dot and Mal­bec add di­men­sion to this rich, pow­er­ful wine that wears its al­co­hol well. It’s ul­tra-vi­brant in its wild black­berry char­ac­ter, with a lin­ger­ing, juicy fin­ish. To­bacco leaf and spicy oak on a firm tan­nic struc­ture. Drink 2021-2034 Alc 14.8% Stag’s Leap Wine Cel­lars, Fay, Stags Leap District 93 £ 150-£ 158.99 Blanco & Gomez, He­donism The most pol­ished of the pro­ducer’s top-tier Caber­nets, this is sup­ple and mouth­fill­ing, with a back­bone to sup­port the rich­ness. Lay­ers of bri­ary black­berry, cedar, san­dal­wood and spice un­fold. Drink 2020-2030 Alc 14.5%

Ac­cendo Cel­lars 92 £ 260-£ 290 (2014) He­donism, La­timer Vint­ners Af­ter sell­ing Araujo Es­tate and Eisele Vine­yard, Bart and Daphne Araujo pur­chased this win­ery in St He­lena and cre­ated Ac­cendo. Their 2015 Cab is in the op­u­lent style of Araujo, yet di­alled back with less new oak. Plump dark fruit, hints of choco­late and bar­rel char, along with lively acid­ity. Drink 2019-2028 Alc 14.8% Cori­son, Sun­bas­ket Vine­yard, St He­lena 92 £ 180 Rober­son Sun­bas­ket Vine­yard was planted by An­dré Tche­listch­eff in the 1950s. Cathy Cori­son bought fruit from here for 25 years, be­fore pur­chas­ing it in 2015. This Caber­net has deeper fruit aro­mas and flavours than her es­tate bot­tling, with a juicy cherry and black­cur­rant core, notes of black olive, for­est floor and mint, ju­di­cious oak and lively acid­ity. Drink 2020-2032 Alc 14% Pride Moun­tain Vine­yards, Vint­ner Se­lect 92 N/A UK www. Pride’s vine­yards strad­dle both Napa and Sonoma. This mid-tier wine comes from the Napa side of the May­a­ca­mas. Bright, cur­ranty fruit, paired with creamy oak, pol­ished tan­nins and nervy acid­ity are its hall­marks. Drink 2019-2030 Alc 14.5% Realm Cel­lars, The Bard, Stags Leap District 92 £ 109-£ 126 Crump Rich­mond Shaw, Fine & Rare, Four Cor­ners, Turville Val­ley Wines Realm has taken over the for­mer Hartwell win­ery, yet wine­maker Benoit Tou­quette re­mains. Phys­i­cally it’s a work in progress, though the 2015 Cabs are splen­did. The Bard is

seam­less and re­ward­ing, with vi­brant wild berry fruit and oak notes, plus pert acid­ity. Def­i­nitely a pro­ducer to watch. Drink 2020-2028 Alc 14.5% Robert Mon­davi Win­ery, Re­serve To Kalon Vine­yard, Oakville 92 N/A UK robert­mon­davi­win­ The se­duc­tive cas­sis nose is ac­cented by hints of cam­phor and for­est floor. Black­berry, blue­berry and black rasp­berry fruit along­side black pep­per­corn and bak­ing spice. Sinewy tan­nins plead for age­ing. Drink 2023-2033 Alc 14.5% Staglin Fam­ily Vine­yard, Rutherford 92 N/A UK www. staglin­fam­ The vin­tage pro­duced pretty flo­ral aro­mas along­side the black fruit. Invit­ing and de­li­cious in its youth, it has enough stuff­ing to go the dis­tance for a decade or more, with firm tan­nins, juicy acid­ity and beau­ti­fully ripe black cherry, plum and black­cur­rant fruit. Not a block­buster by Napa stan­dards, yet de­liv­ers the goods in a bal­anced serv­ing. Drink 2019-2032 Alc 14.5% St Su­pery, Rutherford Es­tate Vine­yard 91 N/A UK www. stsu­ The ad­di­tion of a Rutherford vine­yard has lifted this pro­ducer’s Caber­net game sig­nif­i­cantly. Invit­ingly flo­ral on the nose, it of­fers per­fectly ripe dark cherry and berry flavours, ju­di­cious oak and ma­ture tan­nins. Cal­i­for­nia-gen­er­ous, with a fresh fin­ish. Drink 2020-2030 Alc 14.5%

Chap­pel­let, Sig­na­ture 90 N/A UK www.chap­pel­ Chap­pel­let makes a more deca­dent Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon, yet this one stands out for its lively berry fruit, sub­tle herbal notes and mea­sured bar­rel spice and toast char­ac­ter. Rea­son­ably priced for the qual­ity. Drink 2020-2027 Alc 14.5% Cliff Lede, Stags Leap District 90 £63 Four Cor­ners Wine Lede pro­duces sev­eral Cabs with fan­ci­ful names, though this flag­ship can be counted on year af­ter year for its text­book Stags Leap char­ac­ter, with crushed black­berry, graphite and liquorice notes. Sub­tle min­erailty and toasty oak com­plete the pack­age. Drink 2021-2028 Alc 15% Gal­lica Wines, Oakville 90 £ 190 Pol Roger UK Owner and wine­maker Rose­mary Cake­bread adores Caber­net Franc and blends a good amount of it into this wine. The Franc lends flo­ral aro­mas and a bright­ness to the con­cen­trated and dense palate, with a café latte creami­ness and for­est-floor, savoury edge. Ap­proach­able now. Drink 2020-2028 Alc 14.5%

Mt Brave, Mt Veeder 90 £75-£85 (2014) Fells, He­donism A bram­bly, Zin­fan­del-like fruit in­ten­sity that comes from rel­a­tiv­ley new plant­ings ( 1999 to 2008). New French oak lends toast and spice notes, plus dark choco­late and liquorice. In­tense and very young. Drink 2021-2033 Alc 14.5%

Ramey Wine Cel­lars, An­num 90 N/A UK www. ramey­ David Ramey’s pro­pri­etary red blend is pol­ished and plump, with juicy red fruits, a medium-to­full body and sup­ple tex­ture. Not so much soft as it is nicely in­te­grated and seam­less, this is a plea­sure to drink now and will be for an­other 10 years. Drink 2019-2029 Alc 14.5%

Ray­mond Vine­yards, Re­serve Se­lec­tion 90 £ 34.50-£ 36.42 Cork­ing Wines, Exel, Strictly Wine Deeply fruited and con­cen­trated, this is a showy wine, sure to please many with its rich­ness, choco­late-cov­ered-cherry pro­file and hints of liquorice and tar. Va­ri­etal com­plex­ity comes through in leafy herbs and cedar. It’s mod­ern, for sure. Drink 2019-2026 Alc 14.5%

Sig­norello 90 N/A UK www. sig­norel­loes­ This win­ery was de­stroyed in the 2017 Napa wild­fires, yet it lives on through this wine, which was safely stored in a ware­house. It’s clas­sic Sig­norello, with oak fram­ing the bold black and blue fruit. Mus­cu­lar and dense now, it will likely ben­e­fit from cel­lar­ing. Drink 2021-2031 Alc 14.5%

Spottswoode Es­tate, St He­lena 90 POA Four Walls, Hand­ford, He­donism This iconic, or­ganic es­tate has un­der­gone re­plant­ings, with wines be­com­ing riper and richer as a re­sult of the new non-virused vines. Yet the Spottswoode sig­na­ture re­mains in

this Cab’s per­fume, lifted fruit, sup­ple tan­nins and oak spice. The acid­ity is a marvel for such a warm site. Drink 2020-2030 Alc 14.5% CADE, How­ell Moun­tain 89 N/A UK Lux­u­ri­ous tex­ture, with jammy black­berry and dark cherry fruit make this a thor­oughly mod­ern Cal Cab. Laven­der, choco­late, es­presso and pie crust are among the many de­scrip­tors for this ex­trav­a­gant wine. Drink 2019-2026 Alc 15.2% Far Niente, Oakville 89 £ 104-159 Clos & Cru, Cork­ing Wines, Great Wines Di­rect, Wine Poole More ripe and ex­tracted than in past vin­tages, this re­mains a bal­anced ren­di­tion of mod­ern Napa Val­ley Cab. A hint of raisiny sweet­ness per­vades, though the tex­ture is sup­ple with ma­ture tan­nins. It speaks to the vin­tage – a thing not all Cal Cabs do. Drink 2019-2026 Alc 14.5% Lail Vine­yards, J Daniel Cu­vée 89 £ 205 Four Cor­ners Wine This wine comes from Robin Lail, de­scen­dant of In­glenook founder Gus­tave Niebaum. It’s heav­ily re­liant on smoky, choco­latey oak and ripe dark fruit, made in a soft, sup­ple style that has many fans. The fin­ish is sur­pris­ingly fresh and long. Drink 2019-2026 Alc 15% Frog’s Leap Win­ery, Rutherford 88 £ 35-£ 53 AG Wines, Berry Bros & Rudd, Eton Vint­ners, High­bury Vint­ners, Noble Green, Raf­fles Fine Wine, Son­vino I ad­mire this win­ery’s com­mit­ment to pro­duc­ing va­ri­etally true, lower-al­co­hol, un­flashy or­ganic Cabs that be­long on the din­ner ta­ble. Herbal and crisp, it’s a fruity op­tion in a sea of su­per­charged Cabs. Drink 2020-2028 Alc 13.5% Quintessa, Rutherford 88 £ 180 The Wine Trea­sury Soft in struc­ture and warm in ripe red fruit, it’s a crowd-pleas­ing style that can­not be dis­missed in the US. Ca­ress­ing tan­nins and a gen­tle herbal in­flec­tion add in­ter­est to this drink-soon wine. Drink 2019-2024 Alc 14.5%

Sonoma County

Cor­nell Vine­yards, Es­tate 93 N/A UK www.cor­nel­lvine­ An ex­cep­tional Sonoma Cab that’s still find­ing its strengths. Con­sult­ing wine­maker Fran­coise Peschon, for­merly of Araujo, has fo­cused on im­prove­ments in the vine­yard, which show in the glass. This is pre­cise, beau­ti­fully tex­tured and el­e­gant, with dark, moun­tain-grown fruit, graphite and gar­rigue, en­livened by

struc­tured tan­nins and acid­ity. It’s so fresh and cer­tainly a re­fresh­ing style for Cal­i­for­nia Cab. Drink 2020-2030 Alc 14.5% Gar­den N/A UK www.gar­den­creekvine­ Creek, Tesserae, Alexan­der Val­ley 92 An own­ers un­der-the-radar Justin and Karen Sonoma War­nelius-Miller win­ery, where do nearly seam­less, all the re­fined work and them­selves. supremely Their age­wor­thy. Cabs are Rich and en­er­getic, this vin­tage is ripe dark fruit front and cen­tre, with oak well in the back­ground. Tempt­ing to drink now, but wait. Drink 2021-2032 Alc 14% Jor­dan Win­ery, Jor­dan, Alexan­der Val­ley 91 N/A UK www. jor­dan­win­ Jor­dan al­ways swims against the tide, es­chew­ing overt oak and over­ripeness in the grapes. Their Caber­net is more Bordeaux-like than al­most any wine from Cal­i­for­nia, with a rea­son­able level of al­co­hol, sub­tle hints of herbs and spice, and a fresh, clean, mouth­wa­ter­ing pro­file. Stick it in the cel­lar for a decade or more. Drink 2024-2044 Alc 14% Knights Bridge, Es­tate, Knights Val­ley 90 N/A UK www. knights­bridgewin­ A rel­a­tive new­comer in Knights Val­ley, tak­ing ad­van­tage of an im­pres­sive ar­ray of soil types and row ori­en­ta­tions to make this dis­tinc­tive wine with vol­canic, loam and al­lu­vial char­ac­ter. Black­cur­rant fruit, savoury earth, and firm yet pli­ant tan­nins. Drink 2022-2030 Alc 15% Lau­rel Glen, Coun­ter­point, Sonoma Moun­tain 90 £45 Christo­pher Keiller, Thirty Nine 10, Top Se­lec­tion While wait­ing for Lau­rel Glen’s es­tate Cab to be re­leased in early 2019, en­joy this sec­ond-tier wine for its spiced dark fruit char­ac­ter and prop­erly earthy, leath­ery com­plex­ity. Solid ef­fort for a

sec­ond la­bel. Drink 2020-2025 Alc 14.5% Pe­dron­celli Win­ery, Block 007 Es­tate, Dry Creek Val­ley 89 N/A UK www. pe­dron­ In an age when many Cal Cabs have their savoury char­ac­ter masked by oak and ripeness, this is un­abashedly earthy with slightly herbal ac­cents to the dense, dark fruit, and vi­brant acid­ity. Good value. Drink 2020-2025 Alc 14% Rod­ney Strong, Knights Val­ley 89 £ This 26.99 pro­ducer Waitrose con­tin­ues Cel­lar to ex­pand its Sonoma Caber­net the Napa bor­der. reach, now Toasty into oak Knights is ev­i­dent, Val­ley, yet near

there is a vi­brancy to this good-value wine, with juicy dark fruit and mouth­wa­ter­ing acid­ity. Drink 2019-2025 Alc 14.5%

St Francis Win­ery & Vine­yards, Moon

Moun­tain District 88 N/A UK www. stfran­ciswin­ A moun­tain vine­yard above the val­ley floor is the source for this heady yet sur­pris­ingly bal­anced wine. Vi­o­lets, cher­ries, baked pie crust and bit­ter­sweet choco­late are wrapped in sup­ple tan­nins. Drink 2020-2025 Alc 15%

Santa Cruz Moun­tains

Mount Eden Vine­yards, Mount Eden Es­tate 95 £69 Rober­son The rocky min­er­al­ity of the Santa Cruz Moun­tains shows from first sniff of this wine through to the lengthy fin­ish. The earth­i­ness on the palate is off­set by fleshy red and black fruit, with notes of spice-in­fused cherry, choco­late, es­presso and vanilla. For all its youth­ful in­ten­sity, the palate is re­mark­ably fresh and bright. Drink 2023-2035 Alc 14% Ridge Vine­yards, Monte Bello 91 £97.60 James Nicholson Most know Ridge Monte Bello im­proves with age, so judg­ing it in its in­fancy is al­most un­fair. Some­what herbal Amer­i­can oak dom­i­nates the nose, though the black cherry/black­cur­rant fruit is the core of this wine, cer­tain to take cen­tre stage over the years. High acid­ity, low al­co­hol and faith bring it home. Drink 2023-2040 Alc 13.5%

Paso Robles

Hope Fam­ily Wines, Austin Hope 90 N/A UK www. hope­fam­i­ly­ A deca­dent wine, ef­fu­sive in its cas­sis, black plum, black olive and for­est floor aro­mas and flavours, with a hint of mint and pome­gran­ate. It’s pow­er­ful and ripe, yet wears it well, with­out any dis­cernible heat. Drink 2019-2026 Alc 15%

J Lohr, Sig­na­ture 90 N/A UK www. Young, tight and tan­nic now, though gush­ing with buoy­antly ripe black­cur­rant fruit. Va­ri­etal notes of cedar and for­est floor add com­plex­ity, though fin­ishes short. Drink 2021-2026 Alc 14.5%

Santa Bar­bara County

Star Lane Vine­yard, As­tral, Happy Canyon 89 N/A UK www. star­lanevine­ From the warm­est part of oth­er­wise cool Santa Bar­bara comes a sturdy, grippy Caber­net with text­book va­ri­etal char­ac­ter. Cedar, savoury spice, a hint of vanilla and juicy black­cur­rant are all in keen bal­ance. Drink 2020-2029 Alc 14.5%

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