Cab-A-Palooza & Friends 2018 (Part 1)

As many of you know, we recently tasted through the majority of our 2018 Cabs, Cab blends and other big red wines. It was quite something. I would like to share some of our notes and suggestions on the wines.


Lot 1 | 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – DRINK OR HOLD – Complexing nicely with cherry and rock nestled into chocolately oak and a kiss of pepper framed. Powdery florals and scorched earth emerge as the bouquet opens up. Rich and fleshy across the palate and quite approachable with red fruit and minerally tannins finishing long and clean. There more flesh to come in the finish but this is quite very approachable now.

Lot 2 | 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – DRINK OR HOLD – Potent black and red fruits ride decidedly darker fruit profile and are haloed with hillside garrigue and black earth. Red rock thrusts up through the middle with air adding pink peppercorn and more powdery floral notes to complex the mountain herbs. Plush and rich on the plate with fruit slathered over robust, minerally tannins to be expected from this high-altitude site. Still more complexity to come on the finish but the overall structure is bulletproof, and this will age beautifully. Totally approachable now.

Lot 3 | 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Franc – DRINK OR HOLD – right from the bottle ripe cherry, orange blossom dark chocolate, and dark soil are framed with fresh tobacco and bourbon oak notes. Smooth and seamless across the palate with pretty red fruits laid over significant but well-integrated tannins...powdery pink blossoms, cinnamon raspberry and red rock complex the bouquet with air. Fleshy, juicy and plush on the palate with pure candied raspberry and cherry notes meeting darker fruit-laden tannins that echo through the long finish. Still unwinding but approachable.

Lot 4 | 2018 Napa Valley Merlot – DRINK OR HOLD - bourbon-soaked vanilla cherries are transparent and lifted with tobacco and red rock right out of the bottle with mint, plum, chocolate and leather joining the fray with air. The palate is all up front, juicy with cassis and plum framed with seasoned oak and mouthwatering, minerally tannins (yes, the theme of this vineyard) that resolve the finish. Again, still unwinding but quite approachable if you don’t mind the fine tannin finish. Small Availability

Lot 05 | 2018 Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon – DRINK OR HOLD  - But I would err on the side of holding…sensuous, silky and rich but always vibrant and elegant, this lovely Cabernet is fairly approachable now but its dark core speaks of a deeper truth only time will tell.

Lot 11 | 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – HOLD – tightly wound but opens nicely over 3-4 days with fruit starting to poke through the baby fat on the palate…open and pair with food and drink over 3 days. blackcherry cedar and violets, pipe tobacco and focused complexity. Fine mineral tannins coat the palate with lightly toasted seasoned french oak carrying on the finish…still a ways to go.

Lot 13 | 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – DRINK OR HOLD - brighter fruit presence with a pretty perfume and higher acidity leading to crunchy red fruits. Perfect steak wine that will age gracefully but drink nicely now with a good 24-hour decant.

Lot 17 | 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – DRINK OR HOLD – this wine has come a looooong way and is opening very nicely. Fruit, rock and leather complex the beautiful bouquet with a mouthwatering and juicy hot cinnamon and hard cherry candy mid-palate that lingers on the rather resplendent finish. Quite enjoyable now to be honest but will cellar another 10-15 years easy. Still Available

Lot 15 | 2018 Napa Valley Merlot – HOLD – wow…still tightly wound and pretty shut down aromatically with grilled Pasilla pepper, bing cherry, and graham cracker and leather. Give it another year to open and flower…more to come for sure.

Lot 18 | 2018 Napa Valley Malbec – DRINK OR HOLD – deep, dark, delicious aromas meet a massive wall of tannins on the palate. Notes of dill, cardamom spice, fleshly hewn lumber, and extracted bourbon American oak are bristling with fine tannins that carry through dried cherry, cinnamon, and toasted French oak on the finish. 24-hour decant now but best if you can wait another 6-12 months and drink over next 5-9 years. 

Lot 20 | 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – HOLD – florals and delicate fruit join with notes toffee, leather, graphite, and cassis to try to escape the abyss but are tightly bound. Absolutely palate-staining with dark earth complexing the layers of fruit and toffee, but I wouldn’t touch this monster for at least another year or two at a minimum.

Lot 21 | 2018 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon – DRINK OR HOLD – tight right out of the bottle but the riper style opens up nicely with dusty leather mingling with black cherry and cassis, vibrant acidity lifts the fruit and mingles through the toffee and cocoa finish. Grippy, mineral-laced tannins are covered in magnificently layered fruit.

Lot 22 | 2018 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon – HOLD – Earthy and tightly wound, this massive wine is still unyielding after 5 days. Molten brown sugar, dark valley earth, soy, camphor, and tobacco meld with a fine tannic structure from the hillside intensity. Small Availability

Lot 25 | 2018 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon – DRINK OR HOLD - Power, restraint, nuance... this wine evolves before your eyes... or nose as it were. Wet slate, cedar, tobacco, cassis, and a touch of pepper corn on the finish. Fantastic complexity and balance across the palate…exceptional now with ongoing improvement expected. Still Available

Lot 27 | 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – DRINK OR HOLD – while the complexity is emerging here, this wine still needs years in a cellar in my opinion; however, if you like ’em big, bold and chewy, you could be forgiven for cracking one of these open. Toasted vanilla, bourbon soaked cherry, dark chocolate, rich and succulent on the middle with a hint of sarsaparilla toffee on the finish…a monster in the palate with a huge tannic structure beautifully balanced with great length. The exquisite balance here makes this approachable now but there is so much more to come its best to wait. Still, every now and then one needs to show off… Small Availability

Lot 28 | 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - HOLD - Old world complexity meets new world focus and power. Perfumed leather, bell pepper, lifted yet anchored with cigar box spice and dark earth framed against big, grainy tannins and juicy acidity. Give it another year or two before opening.

Lot 29 | 2018 Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon – HOLD – opens with a relatively inverted nose of rock and toffee but opens up fairly well with lot of air. However, at the end of the day, its still brooding and not ready for primetime. The palate reflects the same, tightly wound and wrapped in baby fat. Be patient. 

Lot 30 | 2018 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon – DRINK OR HOLD – a considerably more suave and debonair form of Atlas Peak Cabernet, N.30 is the sommelier’s pet. Savory notes of leather and toasted French oak are silky and generous on the palate but still the best is yet to come. 24-hour decant in the meantime, but elegant rewards await the patient. Still Available

Lot 40 | 2018 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon – HOLD – don’t touch this wine. Pure infanticide at this point; however, you can smell the potential…ethereal chapparal, garrigue, molten rock, toffee and licorice brood in the dense, black hole of a bouquet… Classic Diamond Mountain. Of all the Napa sub AVAs this one needs time in the bottle to fully emerge. Dense and extracted, layered and sultry with significant, mineral-laced tannins that are not going anywhere anytime soon. Still Available

Lot 42 | 2018 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon – DRINK OR HOLD – just starting to come around…the bouquet is dense with oak out of the gate but well-integrated, juicy and yummy on the palate. This wine has always carried the luscious balance from early on with a seductive balance and weight, chewy tannins, and layers of baking spice, black fruit and earth. Still a baby but quite pleasant (fantastic actually) to drink now if you must.

Lot 43 | 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – DRINK OR HOLD - This wine has arrived - beautifully complexed aromas with layers of cherry and cassis mingle with brown sugar, vanilla, anise, and savory notes of soy, dark earth. Bright and vibrant on the front of the palate and the spice and earth evolves and complexes throughout the palate. Mostly Oakville fruit driving the super-elegant, open knit fruit with a kiss of bell pepper – old school, early 90’s style Cabernet with excellent structure and integration. Still Available

Lot 46 | 2018 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon – HOLD – you could be forgiven for drinking this now, its fantastic, well-knit together, sexy, and juicy with excellent depth and concentration. Dark Earth and toasted French oak in the bouquet, dense and extracted on the palate; yet, the nuances are still hidden gems waiting to be revealed. Small Availability

Lot 47 | 2018 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon – DRINK OR HOLD – Rock ‘N Roll baby! Toffee and cassis, lifted and juicy with a hint of roasted bell pepper. Considerably more approachable than its sibling, N.46. However, I don’t trust this wine…the structure here seems like it might want to invert for a little while down the road so proceed with caution. If you do pop one of these, be sure to 24-hour decant ahead of time. Small Availability

Lot 50 | 2018 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon – HOLD – rock, oak and black fruit are monolithic, tightly wound and brooding with a concave nose. Like the Lot 40 Diamond Mountain Cabernet, Lot 50 will be one of the last wines to crack open, but it will also age the longest and gain complexity for many years to come. I have been purchasing this Walla Walla Cab for many years now and I can honestly say 2018 is the best wine I have ever purchased from this family but also the least penetrable. And that is saying a lot as every one of them has taken at least 18 months to even begin to open up. Still Available