92 POINTS, GOLD MEDAL! 2021 CRITICS CHALLENGE WINE COMPETITION
Toasty, chocolatey and structured, this wine is worthy of some unwinding time. A Gold Award winner at the 2021 Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition. 92-POINTS July 6, 2021
The last offering from this stunning, high-elevation, Spring Mountain estate, N.68 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic example of the "mountain" breed. Dense and savory with elegantly delineated fruit, it reflects the extreme growing conditions of high-altitude vineyards. Here ultraviolet exposure combines with lean soils to produce wines (and especially Cabernet's) with bold structures and intense flavors.
Of course, N.68 Cabernet is a terrific example, an achetype for the category. After purchasing the first three wines, our team was given
carte blanche access and assembled the blend from components we were provided (everything is Estate fruit save for a 1% St Helena Merlot addition). I am confident everything here is "first run" - these folks simply had excess (as did most wineries before the smoke taint wiped out a huge portion of Napa Valley's 2020 Cabernet). Since the blend is our own, its hard to directly compare prices (this year we've been able to purchase pretty much exactly what the wineries are bottling) but I think its fair to say you would pay anywhere from $75-$95/bottle for the components here so lets call it $80 juice for $20. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, if you are looking for overtly rich and early expressive, this isn't your Cabernet. Deep, dark and delicious it is (and relatively approachable for a mountain Cab); nevertheless, the best of this wine is a couple years out.
Bottled late September, this wine shows similar to N.69 with ebbing and flowing aromas. Dark and brooding in the glass it starts very earthy and graphitic with lots of deep plum, chaparral, herb and licorice notes flashing with black cherry, sage and leather. Powdery purple florals, crushed volcanic rock and dark earth are constant once it opens up. Smooth and surprisingly lush and full on the palate, its focused and concentrated with chewy tannin and bright, lingering black cherry on the finish. This will be dynamite once it coalesces.
UPDATED FEBRUARY, 2022 DRINK OR HOLD – this wine will continue to improve but its so damn lovely now, why wait? The price is insane too, so one could be forgiven for going hog-wild on these in the near-term. Focused blackberry syrup with violets complexed with seasoned spruce hardwoods and baking spice…juicy, open, and electric on the palate with a zesty, mouthwatering structure that just sings mineral mountain restraint.
UPDATED JUNE 27, 2021 - Just cracking open but still tightly wrapped in high-altitude, mountain tannins. Soy, toffee, warm wax oak aromas dominate the dark cherry fruit…brooding, earthy mountain cab with graphite, chaparral herbs/anise/sage, dried black cherry, leather - smooth and lush full palate, focused and concentrated with chewy tannin and bright lingering black cherry on the finish. Day Two: Mountain chaparral begins to escape the abyss as the aromatic complexity emerges. Good fruit impression on the palate but it is tightly wound with bourbon oak and tannins. Look to the Fall. 77% Sonoma County, 23% Napa County 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 7% Petite Verdot 45% new French oak 14.6% alc. Bottled September 28th 800 cases available.