St. Eden, wedged between superstars Plumpjack and Rudd, is simply from one of the greatest neighborhoods for Cabernet Sauvignon on Planet Earth. The cherry inner-mouth perfume here is simply enchanting. Galloni calls it “a wine of total finesse. Silky, perfumed and wonderfully expressive, the 2014 simply has it all. This is one of the most polished wines in the entire lineup.”
Bill Harlan’s standards have become legendary in Napa Valley. The vintner and businessman responsible for Harlan Estate, Meadowood Resort and the ambitious winemaking-with-the-stars club that is the Napa Valley Reserve doesn’t cut corners anywhere. Back in 1993 (first releases in ’97), utilizing the same group responsible for Harlan, Bill signed vineyard contracts on four superlative hillside properties to be farmed to the team’s specifications. While four single-vineyard Cabernets are bottled separately, blending decisions dictate that not every barrel from each property will be used… which is where Matriarch comes into play. It allows the immensely talented winemaker Bob Levy to use his blending expertise to highlight the best qualities of the vintage, rather than a specific vineyard expression. The fruit sources stretch from the eastern extremes of Rutherford’s border, west and south to the Mayacamas foothills of Oakville and due north to Spring Mountain. The common themes are hillside plantings, low yields and meticulous farming. It’s exactly what you’d expect from this group of dedicated perfectionists who continue to outdo themselves.
Emerging from an 11-acre vineyard just north of the Oakville tenderloin sector of Napa Valley is the St. Eden, which is treated identically to the other wines. Like the other sites, Bill Harlan has a 25-year lease on this single vineyard, which is planted on fractured, iron-rich, volcanic rock, as opposed to the white tufa volcanic ash of the Quella Vineyard. The 2014 St. Eden is a dead ringer for a Pauillac such as Lynch Bages or Pichon-Longueville Baron. Loads of cedar wood, Christmas fruitcake, blackcurrants, licorice and underbrush all jump from the glass of this deep, rich, concentrated and complex wine that is already showing secondary nuances and silky tannins. It can be drunk now or cellared for up to another 25-30+ years.
As it often is, the 2014 St. Eden is a showy, racy wine. A rush of dark red cherry, plum, mocha, espresso and grilled herbs gives the wine its opulent, flamboyant feel. Even so the St. Eden shows the natural restraint and mid-weight structure of the year.
Forest-floor, terracotta and blackberry aromas are intense and enticing here. Full body, ultra-fine tannis and a powerful yet polished finish. Very long and intense. Lasts for minutes. Superb quality. Barrel sample.
The Oakville release (yet it’s from a steep hillside vineyard), the 2014 St. Eden has lots of graphite and dusty earth character as well as classic dark fruits, white chocolate, and toasty oak notes. It’s a big, full-bodied, elegant, multi-dimensional beauty that has everything going for it. It’s up with the crème de la crème of the vintage.