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Wine Reviews 2020 VHR Cabernet Sauvignon

Jim Gordon, Wine Enthusiast,  <span>Oct. 1, 2023</span>

Great concentration is the hallmark of this structured, dark and ageworthy estate-grown wine from a vineyard long sought after by other producers. From a dense aroma of tightly packed fruit, oak and espresso it moves to powerful dark chocolate, dried black cherry and dark mineral flavors wrapped in burly tannins. Best 2027–2040.  97 pts.

Jonathan Cristaldi, Decanter

The 2020 VHR achieves a dramatic balance of opulence and structure. Leading with plump dark fruit, fragrant brown spices, capsicum and bay laurel. Full-bodied with satiny black fruit framed by firm, present tannins that build on the finish. There’s a suede-like swagger about this one, downright muscular and deserving of a good decanting—a nice showing for the vintage. Harvested from Blocks 1, 3, 4, and 6, and all before September 25. Vine Hill Ranch in Oakville is owned by the Philips family, who have been growers since 1959 and is a source for such producers as Harlan’s BOND Estate, TOR Wines, Dalla Valle’s DVO, and Colgin, among other esteemed Napa producers. The vineyard manager is Mike Wolf, and winemaker Françoise Peschon produces the VHR wine.  95 pts.

Jancis Robinson,  <span>June 28, 2023</span>

The Phillipses began picking just after Cory Empting did in their vineyard for Harlan Estate, so started on 25 August and went right through until 25 September but the fruit that went into this wine was picked before the end of the first week in September. Bruce Phillips argues that the real enemy of wine quality was not smoke but the extreme heat.

Tasted just after the Opus One and it immediately seemed more opulent even if slightly drying on the finish. Rich start and then the tannins seem very slightly more rustic than usual but this is good wine!  17.5 pts.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Independent,  <span>May 18, 2023</span>

The 2020 Vine Hill Ranch VHR Cabernet Sauvignon has a deep purple-black color. It springs from the glass with bright, vivacious red and black cherry notes, followed by a classic cassis, wild sage, and cedar-scented core, with hints of roses, cardamom, and menthol. The medium to full-bodied palate shimmers with energy and vivacious red and black berry layers, supported by fine-grained tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long with loads of floral and mineral sparks.  95+ pts.

Jeb Dunnuck,  <span>Feb. 16, 2023</span>

A rock-solid wine in the vintage, the 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon VHR was harvested from the 24th of August to the 4th of September. Despite these early dates, it has good ripeness in its darker currants, chocolate, violets, and graphite-driven aromatics, and it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, ripe, polished tannins, solid overall balance, and a great finish. It seems completely smoke free and has lots to love, even if it lacks the sparkle of a truly great vintage here.  93 pts.

James Molesworth, Wine Spectator,  <span>Feb. 2023</span>

Delivers warmed cassis and plum reduction notes that hold sway, but not without help from warm loam, bay leaf and tobacco accents. Reveals pretty floral hints in the background, too. The broad, earth-tinged finish is very Oakville. Best from 2024 through 2038. 600 cases made.  93 pts.

Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media,  <span>Oct. 2022</span>

The 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon is dense, powerful and unyielding. Black cherry, chocolate, licorice, graphite, bay leaf and dried herbs give the 2020 its decidedly somber, potent feel. The 2020 was harvested from August 24 to September 8, very early for the estate, with half the fruit coming in between August 24 and 27. Because of that, the tannins are pretty imposing in their presence. The VHR Cabernet is a very, very good wine, but understanding the natural ceiling imposed by the very challenging conditions of the year. Needless to say, it will be very interesting to see how the 2020 develops in the coming years.  93 pts.

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