When it comes to rare wines, it’s difficult to beat the cult Cabernet Sauvignon labels of Napa Valley, California. With a typical average production of only a few hundred cases per year, these exclusive Napa wines are not just some of the rarest wines in California, but they also rank among the most precious fine wine labels in the world. It’s a point of great pride when collectors manage to find a top-rated vintage from a sought-after cult Cabernet producer like Screaming Eagle, Harlan, or BOND.
When it comes to cult wines, Napa Valley is the most lauded region in the world. This area of northern California is where the term “cult wine” originated and it’s home to some of the most praised and valuable cult wine labels in history. You may be wondering why exactly these wines have such recognition among critics and collectors. The answer is simple: they are rare, valuable, age-worthy, high in quality, and consistently rank near the top of the most traded wines on the market.
If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing food and wine pairing, it’s hard to go wrong with Cabernet Sauvignon from California’s Napa Valley. Many of these wines are powerful, high in alcohol, and fruit-forward, balanced by bracing acidity and prominent oak. The finest Napa Valley Cabernet is bold and acidic enough to stand up to the heartiest dishes but also complex and interesting enough to serve on its own or with simple hors d’oeuvres. It’s very easy to find a great Napa Cabernet food pairing and there are a few classic pairings every wine enthusiast should try at least once. The foods in this pairing guide will bring out the best flavors in your Cabernet Sauvignon; we’ll also suggest some more unusual pairings that are sure to impress your dinner guests.
What do Harlan Estate, Opus One, and Screaming Eagle have in common? All of these iconic producers own vineyards in the Oakville American Viticultural Area (AVA). The Oakville AVA is a small California winegrowing region located at the center of the Napa Valley that is famous for its production of top-quality Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends. Some of the world’s most expensive and sought-after Cabernet Sauvignon labels like Harlan Estate and Morlet Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Passionnément are made in the tiny Oakville region.
As two of the biggest names in the Napa Valley wine industry, Opus One and Caymus make highly sought-after Cabernet Sauvignon blends of outstanding quality. However, this is where their similarities end. When you compare Opus One vs. Caymus, there’s a clear difference in style and flavor. In this guide, you’ll learn what the flavor differences are between Opus One and Caymus as well as the differences in value, age-worthiness, and collectability so that you can curate your ideal collection of great Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Colgin Cellars’ wines are supremely rare and exclusive. The Napa Valley winery sells fewer than 2,800 cases of wine per year to a handful of upscale restaurants and 8,000 members on its selective mailing list. Getting your hands on these complex and delectable red wines isn’t easy, particularly if you’re on the hunt for one of Colgin’s many 100-point vintages. These top-rated wines are highly sought-after among serious wine enthusiasts and tend to sell out very quickly on the secondary market.
Top-quality Harlan Estate vintages impress even the most experienced and judicious of wine critics. Tasting six Harlan Estate wines in 2018, Master of Wine Jancis Robinson says many exceeded her expectations. “Only the prejudiced would reject them as too sweet and too alcoholic,” she adds. While the price of these bottles is quite high compared to most other examples of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Robinson says the extra cost is generally worth it. These wines are deeply fragrant, powerful, and age-worthy–a tempting combination.
A few years ago, I attended a retrospective tasting event of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon at a local wine bar. We sampled wines from some of the best years for Napa Cabernet, and it was easy to see which vintages everyone enjoyed the most. The 2007 wines in particular were a huge hit among the crowd. The man sitting next to me gushed over a glass of intense, incredibly complex 2007 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, saying it was one of the best wines he’s ever had. Most of the 2007 wines received similar praise; it was clearly the winning vintage of the night.
The 2018 Napa harvest ended on a high note this fall. Most winemakers across the region are reporting superb grape quality, high yields, and low sugar concentration in the fruit. Hudson Vineyards director Kelly MacLeod says, “This year, it really was a winemaker’s dream. They got to consciously choose exactly what they wanted.” While it’s still too early to tell how these wines will develop over time, all of these factors could result in a collectible, age-worthy vintage. If you’re looking for flavorful New-World wines that are well-balanced with comparatively restrained alcohol, the 2018 vintage may be your dream year, too.
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is so much more than a bold, jammy fruit bomb; in years when the weather is perfect and the harvest conditions are just right, even the boldest of producers can craft wines that are balanced, refined, and elegantly supple in personality. This is precisely what happened during the 2014 growing season. The best 2014 Napa Cabernet has that rare, legendary combination of elegance, youthful charm, and robust tannins that will allow these wines to age spectacularly over the next 25 years or more. In other words, these are wines that will impress you whether you choose to uncork them now or wait until they’ve reached their full potential in 30 years. The 2014 vintage is the perfect balance of soft fruit and a firm backbone, making it one of the greatest Napa vintages of the past two decades, and well worth a space in your cellar.
When you think of a Napa Valley cult wine, you probably picture a rich, fruit-forward glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. However, some of the best cult wines of the moment are in fact made from California’s lesser-known Cabernet Franc, a relatively uncommon varietal that’s only been gaining traction on the wine market over the past five…
We lost a wine icon this year. Margrit Mondavi passed away from cancer on September 2, 2016, and although she is no longer with us, she leaves behind a long legacy that will ripple through California’s wine industry for decades. My father-in-law remembers the first time he met Margrit Mondavi. “She was magnanimous and sharp…