When the founding fathers of the Napa Valley carved out new sub-AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) in the 1980s, Soda Canyon Ranch was not yet on anyone’s map. The vineyard is neighbored to the northwest and west by the winegrowing districts of Stags Leap District and Oak Knoll District, respectively, which were among the early pioneers of California Cabernet Sauvignon to attain global fame. To the northeast and southeast—and further off the beaten path—were Atlas Peak and Coombsville, thought to be the next frontiers for the emerging wine-producing region.
With richness and depth of flavor, the 2018 Timeless Napa Valley is the embodiment of patience and attention to detail. Decades of experience at Soda Canyon Ranch allow winemaker Nate Weis and team to highlight the individual merits of each block. Combining the strongest lots from each resulted in a refined and harmonious bottling.
In 2018, the diurnal shift at Soda Canyon Ranch produced a darker, lusher fruit profile of Cabernet Sauvignon. Simultaneously, the overnight recovery periods resulted in expressive and refined Merlot, giving the wine a pleasant profile of bright, red fruit. With an extended harvest window, the signature, plush density and structure of Petit Verdot is also prevalent in the final blend. Cabernet Franc thrived in 2018 with its predilection for the cooler soils and the climate of blocks 5, 6, 16, 20 and 21—areas we call the Transition Zone and Hardpan Alley. The variety’s floral and tobacco-like aromatics are accentuated, and its more aggressive nature for back-end tannins tamed.
Once blended, the 2018 vintage rested in French oak barrels for 16 months, developing flavors of vanilla and baking spice. Velvety tannins dance across the palate of bright and lingering cassis. With a smooth finish, this is a comforting wine of elegance and depth—a sophisticated expression of the sedate summer.
This is a little old-school and shows lots of dark berry, chocolate and dried fruit. It’s full, dense and layered with fleshly sensibility. Velvety texture.
-James Suckling 93 Points
“ES LO QUE HAY - it is what it is. A common Spanish expression, but one I like to reserve for the few old high altitude Garnacha vineyards that survive in Aragon . What you taste in the bottle is a true expression of what there is in the vineyard. It´s as simple as that.”
High altitude ancient vineyards (75-100 years) at 1,000 to 1,100 meters above sea level with Pizarra slate and quartzite soils. Completely dry grown and unirrigated, this is an inhospitable continental climate with extreme changes of temperature where mountain herbs, almonds, cherry trees and Garnacha form a breathtaking patchwork. Low annual rainfall of 200-300mm and the remarkable soils produce fine and elegant Garnacha which is punctuated by intense black fruit flavors with complex mineral, smoke and garrigue notes.
"The red 2018 Es Lo Que Hay, comes from a vintage Norrel Robertson describes as "one of the standout years in our 17 years producing Garnacha." This is mostly Garnacha, with just 5% other grapes, as it comes exclusively from two old vineyards in the village of Villarroya de la Sierra, and such vineyards always have a small proportion of other grapes, mostly Moristel with a little Miguel de Arco and some Provechón (Bobal). All the varieties fermented together destemmed after a five-day cold soak with the natural yeasts and then matured in Flextank egg for 15 months. This is softer, with more clay and limestone influence rather than the slate soils from the vineyards used in the past for the cuvée. This has more depth and complexity, perhaps from the other grape varieties that complement the Garnacha, and probably has a little more acidity and tannin. It has tension, minerality and good acidity, probably from the Moristel, which tends to ripen a little later than the Garnacha. Tasty. Again, not a shy wine at 15% alcohol but nicely balanced. 3,966 bottles were filled in March 2020.- Luis Gutiérrez"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #248, April 2020), 93 pts
Johann Michel Cornas Cuvee Jana is 100% Syrah.
Black raspberry aromas, licorice, sizzled bacon and smoke. Elegant and pure with depth and well-integrated tannins.
Jana is the name of Johann and Emmanuelle's daughter.
Manual harvest, selection of the grapes from the "Chaillot" parcel, full clusters, fermentation in tanks for 3 weeks, daily remontage and pigeage. Malolactic fermentation in oak barrels and aging on the lees for 12-18 months in barrels (new old barrels) The average age of the vines is 11 years. Yield: 25 hl/ha
There are two special cuvées from this estate. Looking first at the 2018 Cornas Cuvée Jana, it tastes like the essence of Cornas with its meaty, bloody aromas and flavors of scorched earth, ground pepper, rare steak, iron, cedar, and dark, almost blue fruits. Tight, tannic, and concentrated on the palate, this full-bodied effort packs incredible intensity and power yet stays lively, elegant, and weightless. It's a brilliant, brilliant Cornas, yet certainly not for those seeking instant gratification. It actually reminds me slightly of the incredibly age-worthy wines from Domaine Clape, and I suspect it will have a similar evolution. Hide bottles for 7-8 years and enjoy over the following two decades."
- Jeb Dunnuck (Northern Rhône: The 2018s and 2019s, November 19th 2020), 99 pts
Johann Michel Cornas Cuvee Mere Michel is made from 100 percent Syrah.
Cuvee Mère Michel was first introduced in 2016 and is not produced every year. This wine is a tribute to Johann Michel' wife, Emmanuelle, and a nod to the French song, La Mere Michel. This wines comes from Selection Massale (replanting new vineyards with cuttings from exceptional old vines from the same property) cuttings of Serine off the 1947 Yves Cuilleron vineyard at Chavanay. The vineyards are located in the lieu-dit "Les Cotes" at an altitude of 230 meters and benefiting from a southern sun exposure.
"Only made in top vintages, the 2018 Cornas Mère Michel is a tribute to Johann's wife and a play on the French song "La Mere Michelle." Brought up in a new demi-muid, it's a richer, broader wine compared to the Cuvée Jana yet still has incredible Cornas style in its red, black, and blue fruits as well as notes of toasted spice, roasted meat, chocolate, and wild herbs. Rich, full-bodied, and opulent, it has a touch more upfront appeal and should be drinkable in just 4-5 years yet also evolve for two decades." -
Jeb Dunnuck (Northern Rhône: The 2018s and 2019s, November 19th 2020), 98 pts
The Kasteelberg range of wines, celebrates the discovery of Riebeek and the Kasteelberg mountains in 1661. Kasteelberg stands sentinel over the fertile valley below. From the slopes of the mountains, hand-selected grapes are expertly crafted with care to produce rare and expressive wines. The Kasteelberg range truly is the pinnacle of our Winemaker's art.
Often referred to as Shiraz Country, the Riebeek Valley is renowned for exceptional Shiraz wines.
The Kasteelberg Shiraz is a lively rich wine, full bodied with a subdued smokiness on the nose and a pallet of ripe fruit and interesting spice.
Well-balanced and smooth, the aftertaste lingers with the exciting flavors of Christmas pudding.
Serve at room temperature. The perfect companion to barbequed lamb, fillet medallions and game. Lovely with Springbok stuffed with bacon, garlic and rosemary and a great match to a cheese and preserve platter.
"I'd expect to prefer the 2017 Shiraz to the 2018 bottling, but it's actually the reverse. Maybe Alecia Boshoff has just got more experience with the fruit from this Kasteelberg site. Sweet and spicy, with enticing incense and violet aromas, fine tannins, succulent red berry fruit and deftly integrated one-third new oak. 2021-26"
- Tim Atkin (South Africa 2020 Report), 92 pts
Nickel & Nickel DeCarle Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.
Polished and approachable, the 2018 vintage offers an alluring floral-berry perfume and pops of dark, wild berry and clove flavors. There’s serious volume on the palate, supported by firm tannins and dusty-earth accents that are hallmarks of the Rutherford Bench. Balanced acidity lifts the finish while subtle notes of clove and baking spice linger with each sip.
The 2018 growing season kicked off in late February and eased into a mild spring that gave us extended flowering and uniform clusters throughout the vineyard. Summer continued with an even trend, with consistent temperatures allowing fruit to have beautiful, extended hang time. With no heat spikes we were able to wait patiently for every cluster to achieve perfect phenolic maturity. A no rush approach to harvest allowed fruit to develop beautifully on the vine and the Cabernet came into the winery with mature tannins, great acidity and perfect ripeness. This vintage was “near picture-perfect,” and the resulting wines are generous yet structured and expand on the palate.
Tenacity, innovation and a single-minded commitment to “vineyard and varietal” have established Nickel & Nickel as the leader in single-vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Every Cabernet offers the purest expression of its vineyard. No two vineyards are alike. And, as the release of the new 2018 Nickel & Nickel Cabernets can attest, neither are any two vintages. Taste the pure, powerful expressions of unparalleled Napa Valley vineyards. The 2018 Nickel & Nickel Single-Vineyard Cabernets are crafted with excellence and made to be savored.
Sleek and focused, with cassis and cherry puree notes leading the way, backed by a melted red licorice detail and a floral accent on the finish. Toast is judicious too, letting a subtle mineral hint peek in at the very end. Drink now through 2030. 4,157 cases made.
-Wine Spectator 92 Point
El Cismatico Garnacha is made from 100% Garnacha.
The wine is produced from 3 single vineyards - El Mimbreral, Piedra Blanca, Cerro Merino - situated between 850 to 900 meters high. These parcels share the same geological characteristics of pebble stones, red clay, marl and limestone which impart a precise and floral profile to the Garnacha grape that has achieved a balanced acidity and a low pH.
El Cismatico offers an intense ruby red in color. The nose is still very youthful, deep and complex with aromas changing every minute. Its starts out with notes of roasted meat, beets, wild red fruit, cloves, pepper. Little by little, as the wine opens the nose displays touches of crushed violets, pencil lead, black cherry and a light touch of mountain herbs. Fine, elegant and bold, the ripe fruit is exquisitely balanced by fresh acidity achieved from growing Garnacha at altitude. The tannin is firm but polished with an extremely long finish. Drinking 2022 and onwards for many years.
El Cismático is only released when the correct raw material has been achieved to make an Old Vine Garnacha with the capacity to age gracefully for years in bottle, gaining complexity along the way. The objective is to produce a wine that has the capacity to age quite happily for up to 30 years.
EL ESCOCÉS VOLANTE is based in Aragón, Spain dedicated to the production of high quality wines with a particular focus on the native Garnacha grape variety. They also specialize in making very individual wines from native Spanish varieties from other exciting wine regions.
El Escocés Volante (The Flying Scot), Norrel Robertson MW, touched down with his family in Spain in 2003 and released his first wine in 2004.
Date Founded: 2003
Norrel has been making wine in Spain for over 10 years and is currently the only Master of Wine living in Spain. He was born and raised in Scotland and, after graduating from Aberdeen University with a MA Honours degree in Politics and International Relations, has worked in the wine industry for the last 20 years, starting in sales before moving on to buying and product development.
In the 1990´s Norrel decided to pursue a career in winemaking and decided the best way was to learn from the cellar up. Norrel went on to work vintages in Chianti in Italy, Portugal, Australia, France and Chile. In 1998, Norrel embarked on the Master of Wine Course and became a Master of Wine in November 2000, winning the Robert Mondavi Award for the best overall theory performance in the exam.
In 2002-2003 Norrel studied the Postgraduate Viticulture and Oenology course at Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand, obtaining his postgraduate qualification with distinction.
In 2003, he moved to Spain to as Winemaker for International Wine Services and quickly fell in love with the old Garnacha vineyards in the area of Calatayud, Aragon and decided to start making his own wines.
His company - EL ESCOCÉS VOLANTE SL - took off and Norrel now produces many award winning wines made from very specially selected vineyards at high altitude in Aragon, Spain. He also has winemaking projects in Murcia, Andalucia and Galicia. His own wines are sold in over 15 markets. He consults for many high profile wineries in Spain and also to import businesses in the UK .
Argot Mosaic Syrah is made from 87% Syrah, 13% Grenache (10 years old)
An impressively rich, intensely flavored wine with significant body and structure. A Syrah that hearkens to the wild, spice-driven Syrahs of the Southern Rhone.
"Refined and stylish, featuring a complex core wrapped in multilayered blackberry and blueberry flavors, laced with bitter chocolate, black licorice and smoky meat notes. Drink now through 2030.- Tim FISH"
- Wine Spectator Insider (January 15th 2020), 93 PTS
Minius Godello is made from 100 percent Godello.
Minius is a wine with a very live yellow color with green reflections. Highlighted on the nose are the citrus and floral aromas, along with white fruits notes and herbs like fennel. It is soft and elegant in mouth that together with the acidity gives a fresh and persistent finish.
Strict and careful grape selection in the vineyard and winery before destemming. Cold maceration at 10ºC during 3-4 hours. Presing. Alcoholic fermentation begins at 16,5 ºC in stainless steel under an automatic temperature control. Stabilization of the wine in isotermic tanks, filtering and bottling. Resting in the bottle during 30 days prior distribution.
Pairs with apperitives, rices, grilled seafood, white fish in sauce, cheeses, poultries
Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf-du-Pape is made from 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre.
Domaine de Beaurenard’s flagship wine is a quintessential blend, reflecting all the diversity of the terroir and the perfect synergy that exists between the soils and the grapes. It offers a supple and refined texture associated with a delicate aromatic palette that is the result of a constant quest for freshness.
Checking in as a blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, and the rest a handful of varieties, the 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape was brought up in a mix of foudre and older barrels. This deep ruby/purple-hued effort has a pure, vibrant, incredibly seamless, medium to full-bodied style that carries classic notes of black raspberry and black cherry fruits as well as peppery herbs, violets, spring flowers, and sous bois. This straight-up gorgeous, seamless, ultra-fine 2019 should be snatched up by readers. It has a rare mix of elegance, purity, and power, and it’s going to have two decades of prime drinking.
-Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points
Booker Vineyard Oublie Red is made from 56% Grenache, 22% Mourvèdre, 22% Syrah.
Continuing to honor the ne wines of Châteauneuf du Pape, the Oublié oes not disappoint. It shows off a deep youthful ruby color beneath a purple rim. Initially, a plethora of spicy, red cherry, raspberry and red plum aromas envelope the senses and evolve into even brighter but rounded red cherry and plum avors on thepalate. Lively minerality and young playful tannins hint at the lineage to the noble wines of the southern Rhône.
The 2017 Oublie is a blockbuster, ranking with the finest wines in the vintage. Based on 56% Grenache, 22% Mourvèdre, 22% Syrah, brought up in 50% neutral barrels, its vivid purple color is followed by a full-bodied, powerful, yet elegant red that has a great nose of cassis, blackberries, white flowers, leafy herbs, and hints of pepper. It packs some muscle yet stays flawlessly balanced. Drink it over the coming decade.
-Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points