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Cornerstone Cellars Benchlands Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.
Blackberry, dark Bing cherry, and a hint of licorice notes lead the charge, with a touch of vanilla and a touch of ripe plum close behind. The first sip is as smooth and luscious as you might expect. The sweet black fruit at the start is intertwined with complex layers of cassis, dark chocolate, blueberries, and baking spice. The finish lingers with spice and sweet fruit, on a bed of supple tannins, which simply begs for another sip. This has everything we have come to know and love about Cabernet grown in the best viticultural areas of Napa Valley.
"This wine has a sticky grip to it, tannins that weigh around a huge concentration of cedar, clove and varietal cassis. The structure is impressive and lengthy, giving it a boost of complexity and power. - Virginie Boone"
- Wine Enthusiast (September 2020), 91 pts
Like a lot of grand adventures, the Cornerstone story starts with a conversation between friends over a glass of wine. The result was Cornerstone Cellars, and two decades later, they are making wines with constancy and classic varietal attributes that manage to be distinctively approachable (and delicious). Their DNA combines old school Napa Valley ease with a welcoming Southern approach to entertaining, and the result is classic Napa wines that make any table and any dinner a little more welcoming and celebratory.
Cornerstone Cellars started with two friends, Michael Dragutsky and David Sloas, and five tons of Howell Mountain Cab grapes purchased from Randy Dunn. That’s commitment…and Cornerstone Cellars was born. They custom crushed their first vintage in 1991, a classic Napa Valley cab that won awards and got noticed in the still smallish Napa Valley wine community.
Cornerstone Cellars Oakville Station Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc.
From a legendary vineyard that is owned and farmed by the University of California, Davis, this is a brilliant expression of Oakville terroir. Each of the three Bordeaux varietals brings their own unique character to this complex red wine blend. The Cabernet Franc expresses lively red fruit with a touch of herbs. The Cabernet Sauvignon adds weight, depth and lushness to the midpalate, and the Merlot wraps it all up with a layer of juicy ripe summer fruit flavor.
The Cabernet Sauvignon in this blend comes from two different blocks in the highly acclaimed UC Davis Oakville Station, in the heart of “Cabernet Country”. The North Station is adjacent to the illustrious To Kalon vineyard. The tiny block of Merlot and a small block of Cabernet Franc were planted on the west side of the valley at the base of the Mayacamas in the south station in 1990.
The wine offers bold, ripe fruit aromas with some spice and dried herb notes. Smooth and round on entry the Merlot in this blend offers a juicy fruit-focused core that balances the big flavors that we expect from Oakville Cabernet. Expressive yet nuanced, this wine delivers a full- bodied lush core with layers of spice, and a touch of earthiness.
"The tannic intensity of this wine is complemented by dense, dark layers of black cherry, currant and oak. Elongated, it shows well-integrated ripeness and a length of black pepper, sage and cedar. - Virginie Boone"
- Wine Enthusiast (October 2020), 90 pts
Cornerstone Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot.
A bountiful collection of robust aromas reveals its classic Calistoga character of both red and black fruit with a just a hint of earthiness. Complex, yet integrated the black licorice, anise, brown sugar and spice flavors are wrapped around a silky layer of vanilla. Both elegant and powerful, this Cabernet checks all the boxes delivering ripe summer fruit and dark red berry characteristics. The fine-grained tannins show its age-worthiness, but it is ready to enjoy right now.
"A rounded, plump, delicious Cabernet, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga gives up lots of cassis and blackberry fruit as well as toasted spice, chocolate, and leafy herbs. It's medium to full-bodied, has sweet tannins, no hard edges, and loads of charm."
- Jeb Dunnuck (May 2020), 90 pts
The original thought was to be a one wine brand, with a single minded vision to produce the best value-priced Cabernet Sauvignon in America. How do you go about this? Traditional winemaking. Natural fermentations. Barrel-aging. Plus, bottling unfiltered and unfined. In essence, making the wines in small batch winemaking integrity, but doing so on a larger scale. The wine is black. The label definitively says, "This is Cabernet Sauvignon." With the CS, you know who made this wine: Charles Smith. There is also the single vineyard, single expression, Bordeaux varietals (ex: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) produced in very limited quantities. Let's not to forget, the single vineyard Loire-style Substance Sauvignon Blanc. This is the newest chapter in the history books of Charles Smith and his wines.
The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Powerline Vineyard (which is all from Clone 2) is a brilliant, brilliant wine that’s loaded with ripe red, black, and blue fruit as well as notions of green herbs, tobacco, chocolate, and even hints of spiced meat. Complex and medium to full-bodied, with good acidity and a balanced, seamless mouthfeel, it’s already hard to resist yet is going to cruise of 15+ years in cold cellars. -Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points
Hightower Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain is made from 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot.
As Hightower Cellars' signature wine, Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic Red Mountain wine – bold and full of the flavors that make this region so special. As much as possible, Tim and Kelly Hightower take a non-interventionist approach to winemaking. They place great emphasis on vineyard selection, picking, pressing, and blending so that Hightower wines are naturally beautiful and free from pretense. They let the powerful and concentrated fruit from Red Mountain speak for itself. The result is a collection of well-balanced, nuanced wines that reveal something new and interesting each time you open a bottle.
Aromas of tart blueberry and lush red cherry dominate the nose, while firm tannins and full body lend structure to this inky, pigmented wine. The palate features notes of dark fruit, fresh cut wood, and dried tobacco. This wine is an excellent candidate for decanting, as the aromas evolve wonderfully over time to express softer, lush fruit and hints of herbs and spices.
Red Mountain AVA 100% (Hightower Estate Vineyard 56%, E&E Shaw Vineyard 44%)
New Oak 71%, Neutral Oak 29% (American 67%, French 11%, European 11%, Hungarian 11%)
Un-fined and un-filtered
Pairs with grilled red meat, fig and olive tapenade, bacon wrapped dates.
"Blackberries, grilled strawberries, dill, sweet tobacco and some smoke on the nose. It’s medium-to full-bodied with creamy, ripe tannins. Smooth, rich and spiced finish. Drink or hold."
- James Suckling (July 2021), 92 pts
Paradigm Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc
20 months in French oak (only about a third of that is new oak) and for 20 more months in bottle before release
Our winemaking "style" is solely determined by this place or terrior we call "Paradigm." Winemaking is agriculture when you own your vineyards and are able to farm them to promote the very best Earth will give you. All of our selections of wines are made from five varietals on the estate. Every wine is 100% farmed and grown by us.
Complexity in our wines supported by luscious fruit and acidity is our hallmark. Our efforts during harvest and barrel cellaring concentrate on maintaining the freshness from the first day we handpicked each vineyard block. Simple winemaking protocols are employed while crucial “timing” oriented winemaking decisions rule each day.
Dark Cabernet color with beautiful aromas of black cherry, cassis, plus 5-spice, vanilla. Big, ripe and mouthcoating across the palate. The flavors are similar to the aromas with ripe fruit, berry/cherry pie, moderate tannins, and nice length. This wine shows enough structure to be age-worth, yet soft and balanced enough to enjoy upon release. Flavors linger in this tasty, dense wine. Tastes like Oakville. -Heidi Barrett
"Pretty cassis and blackberry fruits as well as notes of cedar pencil, spicy oak, and tobacco emerge from the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville. Medium-bodied, it has a balanced, elegant texture, moderate tannins, and a good finish. It's a complex, classy wine to enjoy over the coming decade or more. This is a classic, workhorse styled Cabernet from winemaker Heidi Barrett with lots to love. The blend is 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and the balance Cabernet Franc, all aged 20 months in French oak."
- Jeb Dunnuck (March 2021), 90 pts
Argot Starstruck Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot (15-25 years old)
Sourcing from vineyards scattered throughout Napa Valley’s spectrum of terroirs, this wine arrives in the glass with a great complexity of personality. Remaining true to last vintage’s bottling, 2016’s Starstruck pours a vibrant purple, offering vibrant aromatics, regal structure and great freshness. Where this bottling has evolved, is by way of Sage Ridge’s warmer, up-valley, higher elevation, red-fruited power, which bolsters the dark blue/purple, cool-fruited character of the other three, cooler-climate Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards. Further, the addition of Merlot has added a wonderful juiciness in both flavor and structure. A palate’s tour of Napa Valley’s myriad terroir — sunbaked ridgetops; forested hillsides; orange-soils; cooling, maritime winds; dense, fog-shrouded mornings. While 2016 keeps with the theme from previous vintages, new flourishes have been added to the mix — a warmer, up-valley vineyard, along with a dollop of Merlot — to up the ante. This cuvee opens to an alluring approach-ability, vibrance, and kiss of juiciness, by way of baked red pie-fruits. On a beam of blood orange accents, a powerfully precise delineation of intense dark fruits flushes out the palate. A singularly delicious and complex representation of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley, that begs to be devoured.
Sourced from four Napa Valley vineyards — Suscol Ranch’s orange, iron-laden soils; Sugarloaf West’s fiercely steep hillside; Sugarloaf East’s south-facing, ferociously rocky “soils”; Sage Ridge’s geographically dramatic ridgetop vineyard in far-eastern Napa. CRUSH: Hand-harvested at night, to protect fruit integrity — Sage Ridge, 9/12, 9/26; Sugarloafs and Suscol, 10/13. Cluster sorted, destemmed, berry sorted by hand, fully crushed. FERMENT: 7-day cold soaks, an average of 20 days skin contact. Individual vineyards raised separately, blended shortly before bottling. AGING: 20 months in French oak, 80% new. Suscol Ranch barrels racked once at twelve months. Bottled unfined, unfiltered.
The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Starstruck is a step up and offers more density and depth, as well as the classic purity of fruit that makes this vintage so compelling. Ripe, powerful notes of blueberries, cassis, green tobacco, and graphite all flow to a full-bodied Cabernet that has loads of fruit, ripe tannins, good acidity, and the class to evolve for upwards of two decades. Bravo!"
- Jeb Dunnuck (January 2019), 94 pts
Capitain Gagnerot Clos Vougeot Grand Cru is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
SOILSChalky soil with fossils from the Bajocian era mixed with red clay and laves. Heavy earth containing iron.
VINIFICATION / MATURING
Harvested by hand, sorted and destemed.
Alcoholic fermentation in open vats, for about 15 days with 2 punch-down a day at the beginning.
Maturation in oak barrels (10% new barrels) for 12 to 15 months.
Colour : Deep garnet red.
Nose : Black fruits aromas (blackcurrant, blueberry).
Mouth : Strong structure and powerfull tannins. After 10 to 15 years of ageing, it turns to crystallized fruits aromas with a long finish.
Game in a sauce, Burgundy cheese (Citeaux)
Quintessa Red Blend is made from 92% Cabernet Sauvignon 2% Merlot 3% Cabernet Franc 2% Carmenere 1% Petit Verdot .
The 2018 Quintessa is a wine of perfect harmony, with deep flavors and elegant layers that are apparent even from a young age. Intense aromas of cassis, black cherry, and raspberry intermingle with savory notes of sage and thyme; the 2018 Quintessa continues to unfold as notes of dark chocolate, graphite and fresh tobacco mingle with the fresh fruit.Precise and dense, the wine shows supple tannin that play with flavors of black cherry, dark chocolate, and crushed rocks. The 2018 Quintessa has a perfect balance of fresh acidity followed by bright fruit and minerality at the finish that portends unparalleled aging potential.
This is beautifully polished with firm, dusty tannins to the blue fruit, as well as chocolate and cedar character. Some much earthier character, too, from mushrooms to bark. Forest flowers. Perfumed. It’s full-bodied with round tannins and a soft, creamy finish. Some iron and iodine to this. So attractive at the finish. From biodynamically grown grapes.
-James Suckling 99 Points