… Vine Hill Ranch has a brilliant team working on the vineyard, with Mike Wolf as their viticultural manager, and former Araujo winemaker and co-owner of the small boutique label Drinkward Peschon, Françoise Peschon, as their winemaker. These are the best wines I have ever tasted from this relatively large, 70-acre vineyard in Oakville. Both vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon are 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in 75% new French oak for 20 or so months. 96+ Points Drink: 2015–2045
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon has filled out and put on considerable weight over the last year. Even with all of its overtness and intensity, the 2012 is far from accessible. This is one of the more primary 2012s readers will come across, so patience is going to be critical. Smoke, mocha, dark red cherry, menthol, licorice and savory notes flesh out on the racy, voluptuous finish. Drops of Petit Verdot make an appearance in the blend for the first time. Vine Hill Ranch's 2012 is one of the resounding successes of the vintage. 96 pts. Drinking window: 2018–2032
A Showstopper Line-Up of Napa Valley Cabernets
Sometimes cabernet sauvignon takes your breath away.
That’s how I felt on Sunday, during a seminar I conducted with Gary Fisch, owner of the renowned retail store Gary’s in New Jersey. I was nothing short of amazed by the complexity and sheer deliciousness of several of the cabernets in the tasting. We tasted two vintages—the 2011 and 2012—of each wine.
It was, in retrospect, a perfect way to show the personality and wine style of each winery, since these two vintages could not be more different. 2011 was a “Bordeaux vintage”—cool, allowing the wines to show the distinctive characters of their sites; 2012 was warm and easy—what we think of as a “California vintage”—giving the wines greater weight and fruit, but also greater homogeneity.
What struck me most was the purity of the flavor in the best of these wines—as if every molecule was lined up along a single, dramatic trajectory of flavor. When Napa Valley cabernet soars; it soars high, with wines that are vivid and intense.
Vine Hill Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville, Napa Valley)
The vineyards of Vine Hill Ranch (quite close to Harlan) produce cabernets that more people should know about. The wines have deep, dark flavors of incense and cedar, exciting spikes of exotic spiciness, masses of savory flavor and streaks of minerality. The richness and fascinating flavors are nothing short of stellar. 2012: 96 pts.
These are two gorgeous Cabernets from Vine Hill Ranch, which continues to cement its place in Napa Valley's top echelon. The Phillips family, along with vineyard guru Mike Wolf and winemaker Françoise Peschon, make a formidable team. The Vine Hill Ranch Cabernets are distinguished by great balance, mid-weight structure and tremendous energy. As good as the wines can be in open vintages such as 2009 or 2012, the Vine Hill Ranch Cabernets need at least a few years in bottle to blossom and give every impression of being age worthy. Stylistically, the wines are perhaps just a touch more restrained than the wines Peschon made at Araujo Estate. Classicists take note: Vine Hill Ranch is one of the very best and most pedigreed wines in Napa Valley….
A dark, sumptuous beauty, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon races across the palate with superb depth and intensity. Dark red cherry, plum, rose petal, mocha, spice and mint all meld together effortlessly as the wine builds to a resonant, super-expressive finish. The 2012 should offer a wide window of pure drinking pleasure, as it is far more open than most vintages have been at the same stage. Naturally, today most of the wine's appeal is in its fruit, so readers who prefer tertiary notes will have to wait for at least a few years. Even today, the wine's compelling personality exerts considerable pull. The 2012 is just as magnificent from bottle as it has always been from barrel. 96+ pts. Drinking window: 2018–2037 Tasting date: October 2014
… Françoise Pechon… was responsible for turning out this gorgeous 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville. Its dense purple color is accompanied by notes of ripe crème de cassis, licorice and graphite. Full-bodied with beautiful purity, a dense, multilayered mouthfeel, silky, well-integrated tannins, adequate acidity and a judicious touch of toasty oak, it can be enjoyed over the next 15+ years. 95 Points Drinking window: 2014–2029 Tasting Date: August 2014