From the back hills of St. Helena, in the direction of Spring Mountain, comes Abreu’s first single-vineyard offering from vineyards planted in 1982, the Madrona Ranch. This cuvée usually contains at least 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and one of the highest percentages of Cabernet Franc, ranging from 33% to 45%. Tiny quantities of Petit Verdot and Merlot are also added, depending on how they fared in any given vintage. Last year I mentioned that the 2011 Proprietary Red Madrona Ranch was one of the rare Abreu wines that showed a little herbaceousness, but that has completely aged out. There is now a forest floor intensity to this full-bodied, opaque purple-colored 2011. After spending 26 months in 100% new oak, it exhibits great fruit, concentration and intensity. The fact that Abreu and Grimes do malolactic in their new oak barrels seems to integrate the wood better than at many wineries. It is certainly a key to understanding the wine’s complexity. It displays lots of Christmas fruitcake, coffee, chocolate and spice box notes, a full-bodied mouthfeel, and sweet tannin. Drink it over the next 15+ years. 95/100 Robert Parker.
David Abreu is probably Napa Valley’s most respected viticulturalist. His list of clients reads like a who’s who of Napa royalty – Harlan, Screaming Eagle, Grace Family, Sloan, Blankiet, Staglin, Colgin and Araujo all use his services. If you need the best advice on where to plant, what to plant, how to prune, train and handle your vines so as to ensure you reap only the finest fruit possible from any given vineyard in Napa, the man you want to call is David Abreu.
So it’s hardly surprising he has some pretty stunning vineyard sites of his own. With Brad Grimes in the winery, the pair strive to articulate site above all, with a less is more approach to the actual winemaking. Most of the wines are the result of co-fermentations of varieties based on pick dates from each site, an unusual yet growing philosophy which many believe creates better harmony in the final wines. The results are what Antonio Galloni refers to as “some of the most compelling expressions of Napa Valley terroir readers will come across.“
There are four single vineyards and a blend of all four sites in the Rothwell Hyde. Selection is so stringent that grapes David and Brad aren’t totally happy are sold off to some of Napa’s finest wineries.
Arguably Americas most important wine growing region, home to the likes of Dominus, Heitz, Cain Cellars and Opus One. Bordeaux varietals are key in this 40 mile long North-South valley that stretches from the San Fransico Bay up towards Calistoga and the sheer variety of different climats and vineyard sites is as bewildering as the sheer variety of styles of wine produced. At their best these can be some of the most opulent examples of Cabernet Sauvignon in the world - truly great wines with dinstinctly long cellaring potentials, but more youthful approachability than their european counterparts.