(2018) A blend of two vineyards, the Occidental Road Vineyard, a 1990 planting of a Massal selection, plus their own sandy vineyard, O'Connel. Andy describes it as "A crafted wine, rather than a grown wine," with some whole bunches in the ferment, very few punch downs, more gentle remontage, and a long fermentation. It sees 45% new French oak. Fantastic glossy, deep black nose, almost cassis ripeness, Some char and coffee richness, graphite too. Delicious balance again, with the ripe plushness and just a touch of briar character, again texturally rich and dense, but the cherry freshness of the acidity cleanses beautifully. This tastes very youthful, but has such obvious quality.
(2018) Gorgeous perfume of violet and fragrant floral character, bursting cherry and cherry-stalk briar notes. Then delicious sweetness in the mouth, touches of mocha and plush, ripe fleshiness, pure and long, the tangy and bittersweet cherry skin quality extends the finish against the sweet fruit.
(2018) LIke all of DuMOL's wines it seems, again the perfume here is magnificent, slightly more ripe almost moving into dried cherry and dried fruit, extreme sweetness. This lacks the nuance and layering of the 2013 for me, but the fruit is so pure, so deliciously all-encompassing, encouraging you to simply drink deeply.
(2018) Served from magnum and the cool old cellars of Raeburn Fine Wines, this has the earthy, lightly salty, truffle and meatiness, with juicy cherry ripeness and freshness, rich, sandy tannins and keen concentration of fruit, texture and acidity. It has retained remarkable freshness though the wine is nicely developed, touches of game and flowers melding with the creamy fruit and oak of the finish. Price is for a magnum.
(2018) From a coastal vineyard at elevation, planted in 2000. Another 'crafted' wine according to Andy, that includes the addition of 7 or 8% Viognier, harvested at the same time as the Syrah by which time is very ripe (six weeks after Viognier is picked for white wine) and aged in a combination of 500-litre barrels with 25% in amphorae. Tight and glossy blue black fruit, a little balsamic quality, Very ripe, aromatic and cassis-dense again, with some meatiness backing up, and a touch of cedary quality. Juicy but firm and structured onto a dense, fleshy palate, touches of clove and liquorice, then all drawn together by creamy slick tannins and plenty of acid backbone.
(2018) A cool vintage with a late harvest and lower sugar levels. 'A very fond memory' of this vintage for Andy. Aged 16 months in new, larger French oak, there's a lovely white pepper lift to this, but also lots of meaty character, gamy, but long and flowing, that completely ripe and seductive fruit weight is there, but so fresh with the acidity and tang of black fruit skins.
(2018) So silky, and yes there is plenty of creamy, bittersweet dark cocoa and ripe blackberry sweet fruit and spices. Such a wonderful fleshiness and weight to this, but terrific creaminess and enough roughening texture too. Elegant, the cooler climate origins are there, but there's no lack of texture and fruit density.
(2018) Andy made 15 vintages at Larkmead, receiving massive scores from Parker. But when planning to release a Cabernet for DuMOL he had the intention of making "A more Pinot style of Cabernet." This vineyard in the Moon Mountain district AVA sits at an elevation of 1,700 feet, and was planted in 1964. Andy loving describes the view, all the way down to the Golden Gate Bridge on a clear day. Organically farmed, the vineyard is also inter-planted with Chenin Blanc, an historical quirk. Supple, soft chocolate and silk dominate the palate with lots of fragrant rosemary and mint, a lovely herbal freshness. That character flows through to the palate too, a beguiling Cabernet, finishing with mocha and berry richness, but signature cherry-skin tangy acidity.
(2018) From Coombsville and Spring Mountain, two of Napa's coolest appellations with one vineyard at a lofty 1,800 feet. It's a more lush interpretation of Cabernet for sure, perhaps the 65% new oak also adding to the chocolate and mint perfume, A little more eucalypt character, but then the palate offering a smoky, deep pool of black fruit, a supple and long finish focusing to a fine point. Take you choice between this and the Montecillo, different styles but equally good and both ageworthy.
(2017) Cellared by me since around 1998 or so, the first vintage of this joint project between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild was in 1979, the blend here being 89% Cabernet Sauvignon with 8% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot, aged for 17 months in new French oak. It has a glorious fragrance still, a compote of red and black berries swirling with smoke, cedar and graphite, a finely honed touch of wild, gamy character well into the background. On the palate it is medium bodied, a pristine freshness with taut acidity and pure, fine-grained tannins, that wash of ripe but elegant fruit layered on top. This is drinking beautifully, but with no sign of any fading it surely has a decade ahead of it.
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