Napa Valley tagged posts

Black Friday: Round Pond Estate Cabernet ($46.95, RP93)

November 27, 2015 High End Values  No comments

IMG_5682It's rare that I write up a wine twice, but this one deserves it.  Even though it's young, I opened a bottle of Round Pond's 2012 Estate Cabernet for Thanksgiving and it really is spectacular.  They recently hired Thomas Rivers-Brown as their consulting winemaker and it shows all his hallmarks.  I buy his (much more expensive) wines from Schrader, Outpost, Mending Wall and Rivers-Marie and if you want to taste a TRB wine without spending 2-5x, this is your wine.  It's hard to describe what makes his wines so unique.  The nose is a sweet combination of fruit and oak with neither jumping out - it's actually hard to tell the difference.  The palate is incredibly refined, pure and seamless.  There is huge concentration, but I wouldn't call this a huge wine.  In summary: WOW.

Every day is

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Mondavi Oakville – Best Napa Cabernet Under $40

July 2, 2015 High End Values  No comments

Mondavi Oakville LabelUnless you go way down into bulk wines, $40 is pretty much the entry price of Napa Cabernet now.  It's too bad, but the glory days of the 2005-2007 vintages are over and this is the new reality.  That's why Mondavi's 2012 Oakville Cabernet is a remarkable value.  It could be labeled "To Kalon Vineyard" as the vast majority (usually 99%) comes from that legendary soil.  But that would pose a problem for Mondavi.  You see, their $145 Reserve Cab is now labeled as "To Kalon", so labeling their Oakville bottling as such would devalue the Reserve, not to mention the $200 Schrader wines, or $350 Paul Hobbs from To Kalon.

So here we are with a fantastic wine, from an historic vineyard, at an entry level price.  I have been through a case of the 2005, and today that wine is drinking better

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Napa Cab Round-Up (Round Pond, Keenan)

June 9, 2015 High End Values  No comments

Every so often, I like to do a round-up to showcase some of the best deals on Napa Cabernet.  And while the deals aren't what they used to be, you can still find some values if you know where to look.
Keenan currently has two late release 2010s both of which are excellent values.  Their 2010 Napa Cabernet comes from 61% Spring Mountain and 39% Pope Valley.  At $39.95, it's one of the best Napa Cabs in its price range.  Better still is the 2010 Keenan Mernet (pronounced Mer-Nay), a blend of Cabernet, Cab Franc and Merlot.  On a recent trip to Napa, this was my second favorite wine behind Chappellet's Pritchard Hill, which costs 2x.  The Mernet is currently discounted to $59.95 - $15 off the next lowest price I can find.  This is a heck of a deal on a top tier Napa

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A 90 Point Napa Cab for $15 – Ca’ Momi 2012 ($14.95, RP90)

December 3, 2014 90+ Bargains  No comments


The days of the (drinkable) under $20 Napa Cab are over aren't they?  I think I've said that numerous times on this blog.  Well I'll be the first to raise my hand and say I was proven wrong here.  A relatively new winery called Ca' Momi has released a solid 2012 Napa Cab at the magical under $20 $15 price point.  This is the second coming of the 2005 Avalon.

Are there better wines for $15?  Sure, I think looking toward France, Italy or Spain will get you something a little better at the price point.  But are there better Napa Cabs for $15?  Absolutely not.  You don't have to trust me on this.  Robert Parker himself described this as "high-class" and gave it 90 points.  I followed a bottle over two days and this wine showed a nice nose of cherry with

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’10 Lagier Meredith Syrah – One of the World’s Best ($41.95, RP94)

December 2, 2013 High End Values  No comments

lagier_meredith_LRGNapa Valley isn't exactly known for Syrah, especially on the rugged slopes of Mt. Veeder where Cabernet grapes fetch extremely high prices.  But married couple Steve Lagier and Carole Meredith bought a few acres high on the mountain and planted Syrah.  They have no employees, and with the exception of harvest time, everything is done by Carole and Steve, from tending the vineyard to making the wine.  If you want an artisan wine, it doesn't get much more artisan than this.

That's all well and good, but "artisan" is meaningless if their product isn't special.  With Lagier Meredith Syrah, it is.  Every year.  Here is a quick review of the last decade of scores from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:

2011 – 90

2010 – 94

2009 – 94

2008 – 95

2007 – 94+

2006 –

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A Paul Hobbs Napa Cab Under $20?

November 21, 2012 Cellar WorthyDaily Drinkers  No comments

Ahnfeldt Napa Cabernet 2009I've tasted several vintages of the Ahnfeldt Cabernet, and while I always thought it was a solid wine, I never found it particularly exciting... until they hired Paul Hobbs.  Hobbs is the Cabernet master (along with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Malbec).  Somehow every wine he makes, or consults for, turns out great.  At $19.95, this has to be the greatest value in Napa Cabernet.

Paul Hobbs is probably best known for his own label which produces Cabernet starting at $75 for the Napa Valley bottling and going up to $250 for the To Kalon Vineyard bottling.  The other part of Hobbs' business is consulting for several wineries from California to Argentina.  Wineries lucky enough to acquire his consulting expertise usually experience dramatic increases in the quality of their wines.

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Robert Craig Affinity – High End Napa Cab Under $40

September 28, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End ValuesSpecial Occasions  No comments

Robert Craig's Affinity bottling really got on the map after Robert Parker awarded it 96 points in the 2007 vintage. I bought 4 bottles without tasting it. I've only had one and I'm very happy with the purchase. It's an exceptional wine.

That wine is long since sold out but, having drunk both pretty recently, I actually think the 2009 is drinking better today. Time will tell which ends up as the better wine, but today the 2009 is a massive Cabernet with a ripe nose of dark fruit with a background of oak. But where this wine really stands out from other Napa cabs in the price range is the velvet texture and exceedingly long, highly nuanced finish. A true Bordeaux-like elegance exists with Affinity, which makes since because it's grown just south of the Stags Leap District in a cooler

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Finally, A Great Napa Cabernet Under $25

June 5, 2012 Cellar WorthyDaily Drinkers  No comments

Now that the economy is thawing out, it's getting much harder to find good Napa Cabernet under $25.  In fact, the last one I wrote up was on November 1st of last year.  As a point of reference, I've written up several Bordeaux and Rhone blends under $25 since then.  So I was thrilled to taste White Oak's 2007 Napa Cabernet.

With most wineries realeasing 2009s, I'm not sure why this '07 is still around but I have an idea.  2007 was such a great vintage (arguably the best of the decade) and the economy was in the crapper.  So there were an excess of great values on the market at the time.  Fast forward to today and the economy has improved and two good, but not exceptional, vintages have been released (at higher prices).    How do those '07s look now?

This is super dense and

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Second Wines Rock – Napa Cabernet Edition

April 25, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

If you read Wine Spectator's March issue, you're aware of the outstanding values the second wines of Bordeaux's top Chateau.  Napa has a long history of copying (and often improving upon) French winemaking, so it comes as no surprise that some of the Napa Valley's top labels also produce some fantastic second wines.

Here are some of my favorite second wines, in no particular order, with first/flagship wine in parenthesis.  When possible, I linked wines that are available for purchase .
Darioush Caravan - $37.95 (Darioush Signature - $88)
Since the 2007 vintage, this has not only been a great second wine, but one of my favorite Napa Cabernets, period!  It's a huge, complex wine that completely destroys most Napa Cabs both on quality and value.  The price has gone up from $30 since the

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A $100 Togni Cabernet for $35

March 12, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

Okay, the title of this post might be a little misleading.  The wine discussed here is not THE $100 Philip Togni Cabernet but it is made by the same person, comes from the same vineyard, and ages in the same 40% new French oak barrels as the $100 wine.  This wine, at 1/3 the price, is simply from the barrels that didn't make the cut for the more expensive version.

Try this analogy: I recently bought a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee.  The sales guy told me "you're basically getting a Mercedes ML350 for $20k less".  You see, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee was built on the same platform as the Merc.  Same frame, suspension, steering, some of the interior bits.  Sure it doesn't have as many gadgets and it's not quite as flashy, but the most important parts are Mercedes.

The same goes for Philip

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