91 Points - JamesSuckling.com
“Perfumed and bright with violet and rose petal. Dark berry. Hints of spice. Medium to full body, fine and silky tannins and a fresh and clean finish. Drink now.” - James Suckling, December 2017
The 2014 Napa Valley Malbec is a big and powerful wine showing tons of dark berry fruit with strong flavors of black cherry, dark strawberry, hints of blackberry and black licorice with spicy white pepper and musky floral notes. The depth and complexity of the wine all ties together perfectly on the palate with wonderfully soft, velvety tannins. This limited bottling drinks as powerfully rich as it smells, but the immense fruit flavors remain incredibly fresh throughout and are framed by notable acidity.
The majority of the Malbec grapes for this bottling are sourced from the D’Ambrosio Vineyards from a block called Las Cerezas located southeast from the town of Yountville, an area that is well-suited to growing this regional rarity. Las Cerezas, Spanish for “the cherries,” was named after the neighboring cherry orchard. The climate is moderate, with a definite cooler maritime influence compared to vineyards further up valley. Here the soils are mainly gravelly silt loams, sedimentary in origin and gravelly alluvial soils with rock, moderately fertile. A smaller percentage of Malbec was sourced from Stanton Vineyards’ J.B. Ranch, located in the heart of St. Helena, which helped to round out the balance of the Malbec fruit in this wine.
Despite drought conditions, the 2014 vintage proved to be ideal, with excellent quality reminiscent of 2012 and 2013. The winter was one of the driest on record in California, but substantial rains in early spring were timely and set up the vines for a strong start. Summer temperatures were milder than expected with no extremes, and after early budbreak and verasion, harvest was unusually early in 2014. Despite this, the overall dry season was ideal for producing a Malbec of wonderful quality.
Winemaker Christophe Paubert practiced simple methods to show how this rare variety can excel in Napa Valley. The wine was fermented and aged in neutral French oak barrels (approximately 50%) and in stainless-steel tanks for 16 months. The usage of stainless steel allowed the wine to broadcast and preserve the purity and freshness of the Malbec fruit.
Varietal Composition: 100% Malbec