Napa’s best Cabs revealed by tasting panel6th January, 2014 by Catherine Seda Bugue
Napa Valley is not shying away from its reputation for making full-bodied, richly fruited and generously oaked wines.
At a recent tasting event 60 of Napa’s top priced cabernet sauvignon wines were reviewed by members of the St. Helena Star and Napa Valley Vintner Tasting Panel over two afternoons at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California, The collective palates of the winemakers brought hundreds of years of experience in dissecting the region’s wines. But make no mistake about it: winemakers are no friend to wines that don’t meet their individual standards. Despite the temperate climate of the season or even the room, there are some very frosty moments at these panel tastings.
Lending their palates to the Cabernet Sauvignon review were Hugh Davies of Schramsberg, Kristen Belair with Honig, Todd Graff of Frank Family, Brooks Painter of V. Sattui and Castello di Amorosa, Alison Crary with Sterling Vineyards, John Skupny of Lang & Reed, Christophe Smith from Titus Vineyards and dozens of other winemakers and others closely involved in the wine trade.
While the included wines are certainly not all-encompassing (get on that mailing list for Screaming Eagle, Harlan and Colgin), this tasting looked at some of Napa Valley’s more accessible super-premium wines. All samples were submitted to the Napa Valley Vintners.
The wines were current vintage – mostly 2010s- and their price tags had to be $50 or higher. Initial impressions by the panelist were surprising. In place of the usual barbs was an almost uniform appreciation for the current wines and style of Napa Valley’s top Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
Wine note after wine note mentioned the concentrated red fruits and generous levels of alcohol and oak flavours. If the bigger style of wine has taken some hits over the last few years, there was no cause and effect sign from that backlash here.
These wines are as rich and generous as Napa Valley is famous for; a style that the winemakers present agreed was the one they were proud to present to the world.
Scroll through our slideshow to find out what the judges deemed to be Napa Valley’s top premium Cabernet Sauvignons.