The whims of Mother Nature were on full display during the 2017 growing season…marked by ample winter rains, a mild spring, hail in June, and intermittent waves of summer heat. A third and final temperature spike in early September compelled a spirited pick from our hallmark block on Bald Mountain, with the end result being a delightfully delicious chardonnay displaying both richness and resolve. On the nose, the wine expresses notes of star jasmine and citrus, giving way to flavors that tempt the palate with a pleasing panoply of lemon candy, grapefruit zest, tropical fruit, and (wait for it…), a suggestion of bananas foster and crème brulée. Aged 17-months in 30% new French oak, the wine demonstrates a pleasingly light acidity to provide a refreshing counterpoint that balances the wine from start-to-finish. Teasingly inviting but refined in a way that memorable white burgundies can often be, the wine conjures up the dulcet tones of Fleetwood Mac’s sultry singer-songwriter, Christine McVie, who in her memorable hit, “You Make Loving Fun” compelled many of us who “never did believe in the ways of magic” to “…begin to wonder why.”
Bald Mountain, a neighbor of Mount Veeder, is situated in the Mayacamas Mountains on the western border of the Napa Valley. The south-facing vineyard sits at nearly 1600 feet above sea level, and offers stunning views of both the Sonoma and Napa Valleys, as well as of Marin’s Mt. Tamalpais to the south. Cool sunshine is abundant throughout the growing season, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly while varietal character evolves completely.
Gorgeously deep ruby in the glass, our 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet opens with the alluring aromas of black fruit, dried herbs and earthiness. Vibrantly direct on the attack, this chiseled blend of cabernet and merlot invites interest with a toothsome panoply of flavor notes: dense blackberry, black plum, anise, and hints of black tea, complemented by a savory meatiness through the mid-palate that makes for a satisfying weightiness and volume. Aged twenty-two months in 42% new French oak, the wine reveals a lightly muscled structure and pleasing acidity…that should allow for enjoyment at release through the next 12-15 years. Vibrant, assertive and displaying a surprising balance of sinew and agility; the wine is reminiscent of the San Francisco Forty-Niners enormously talented All-Pro tight-end, George Kittle (#85) on one of his memorable gallops to the end zone…leaving hapless defenders foundering in his wake.
The backbone of this remarkable Cabernet Sauvignon was sourced from Coombsville and Soda Canyon, an area of southeast Napa Valley where soils are characterized by a unique blend of red volcanic soils and clay. The most prominent of these vineyard blocks is planted on a gently sloping plateau, and the comparatively temperate climate of the area, versus the warmer territory up valley, serves to lengthen the growing season. The grapes are allowed to achieve full ripeness without the pressure of heat extremes common in warmer areas, and low vigor soils throughout the vineyard create small, dense clusters. With the addition of vibrant dark fruit from our preferred vineyard sources on St. Helena, Howell Mountain and Soda Canyon, the resulting wine is expressive and evocative.
The deep, dark, ruby red hues of this sublime offering invite auspicious anticipation. True to its Howell Mountain heritage, bold and vibrantly expressive flavors of ripe black and red fruit, with hints of anise and sweet spices abound. While the expectation that attends its pedigreed terroir and adroit winemaking sets a high bar, the 2017 vintage of our most storied wine stands and delivers. Indeed, cued by the wine’s alluring nose, the attack is marked with gravitas and vigor. Ripe blackberry, dark cherry, licorice and hints of juniper berry and baking spices lead to an assertive mid-palate …whose deftly applied oak framing presages a “call of the wild” that will be barely contained. Throaty, brooding and almost feral, the wine’s underlying power awaits to be unleashed by those who favor big, bold striking wines built for power and purpose. Sleek, brawny, and sensuous without caring to be stylish or trendy, the wine invites comparison to the classic American muscle cars whose street legality may someday be challenged.
The grapes that made this wine were grown in an east-facing hillside Howell Mountain vineyard perched 2100 feet above the Napa Valley floor, located just outside the Rancho. The terraced vineyard is planted on an extreme slope, producing thick-skinned clusters capable of creating a wine with intensity, structure, elegance, and weight.
This remarkable cabernet in its especially limited production quantities, receives our Cor Leonis designation, to mark its position as Moone Tsai’s signature Cabernet Sauvignon. Transfixed by the brightest star in the constellation Leo, the Romans dubbed it Cor Leonis, the “Heart of the Lion.”
Deeply dark-ruby red in the glass, the glorious outcome to 2016’s nearly perfect growing season is on fine display in this eleventh vintage of our signature cabernet. With a steady, mild July and August, followed by a series of warm days at the end of the growing season, our vineyard blocks were able to progress to exquisite ripeness. Emboldened by these conditions, aromas of black fruit, finely milled oak, cherry cola and hints of eucalyptus signal “Game-ON!”, while surreptitiously providing only a glimpse of the wine’s attack that lies patiently in wait. Teasing flavors of ripe blackberry, cassis, pomegranate and cocoa nib taunt the palate against the backdrop of a handsomely-muscled structure defined by finely grained tannins and sweet oak. Displaying remarkable balance, layered complexity and delicate acidity; the wine’s hallmarks of power, agility and finesse reveal themselves, allowing for a gracefully arcing stride to a lengthy and triumphant finish. Admiring the phenomenally gifted Giannis Antetokounmpo (a.k.a. the “Greek Freak”) gliding through the NBA’s hardwood en route to one of his gravity-defying leaps through the paint; one can’t help but think that the Milwaukee Buck’s power forward-unicorn and our signature Cabernet may have something in common.
The deep ruby red hues of our 2016 Napa Valley Cabernet combine with suggestive aromas of black and red fruit and spice…to signal a fragrant alert to the senses. Center-stage, flavors of blackberry, Bing cherry, and dried cranberry arrive en-pointe, with touches of tamarind, anise, pepper, and graphite further piquing the palate. With the wine’s backbone hailing from hillside sites found in the upper and lower reaches of Napa Valley, a fresh minerality and vivacity keynote the wine’s pleasing acidity and elegantly delineated structure. Twenty months of barrel-aging in 40% new French oak frame the wine with dexterity, enabling a graceful and lengthy finish. Agile, pretty, long, and focused, this lovely vintage of our calling-card Cabernet brings to mind the remarkable talents of the acclaimed actress, Natalie Portman, who in in her marquee role as prima ballerina, Nina, earned her first Academy Award as Best Actress, in the unforgettable 2010 film, Black Swan.
Bearing an extraordinary combination of fruit from a trifecta of Napa Valley’s most celebrated vineyard blocks, the 2014 Cor Leonis Cabernet is the epitome of our winemaking philosophy. With its ruby red hues beckoning; aromas of black cherry, and softly tanned leather alluringly announce the wine’s arrival. Upon entry, one’s palate is greeted by a teasing mélange of dense black fruit, plum and wild raspberry, accompanied by hints of cedar and baking spices. With barrel aging at 28 months in 92% new French oak, the winemaker’s delicate oak treatment frames the wine handsomely, revealing a notable structure, deft layering, and a beguiling complexity. Featuring finely grained tannins and a stony-fresh minerality, the wine concludes with a long lingering finish, making for a judicious juxtaposition of power, refinement, and finesse.