Crafted almost entirely from the legendary, rocky Eisele Vineyard in Calistoga, this is a “next-level” wine, even for this spectacular producer. Age it or drink it now, but you’re going to fall hard into this savory tractor-beam of a Cabernet, bristling with aromas of black cherry, gravel, woodsmoke, cinnamon, and purple flowers. A slab of prime rib never found a more ardent companion.
First planted in 1880, Araujo’s Eisele Vineyard in Calistoga is steeped in mythology. The vineyard is a good example of the transcendent power of a great terroir, because no matter who makes the wines, they always provide an extraordinary drinking experience. Even before Bart and Daphne Araujo purchased this gravelly, cobblestone-laden vineyard in 1989, legendary wines like the 1971 Ridge Eisele, 1974 Conn Creek Eisele, and 1975 Joseph Phelps Eisele Cabernets galvanized its position as one of the greatest sites in not just the valley, but all of California. Today winemaking and blending is overseen by Frédéric Engerer, who is also CEO of Château Latour. There is something magical about the Eisele vineyard. There’s no other way to say it. Effortless power, intense, gravelly goût de terroir, and haunting cassis perfume make this one of the great wines of the United States. The Estate Cabernet wine is made from THE prime cut of Eisele Vineyard, one of the most purely alluvial vineyards in the entire Napa Valley, whose gravels and stones were washed down via Simmons Creek over millennia. It’s this alluvial character, which Cabernet Sauvignon roots crave, that lends credence to the argument that Eisele Vineyard is simply the finest site in the entire Napa Valley. Being a Cabernet Sauvignon collector without Eisele in your cellar is like being a rock and roll fan without a single Beatles, Who, or Stones album in your possession. This American Grand Cru is required drinking if you crave the best in life!
Lots of violets and dark berries with sweet underbrush and fresh mushrooms, following through to a medium to full body, soft and silky tannins and a succulent and refined finish. It remains supple and beautiful. Hard not to drink now. Better after 2023.
The Altagracia is produced almost exclusively from estate fruit this year and was bottled at the end of June 2018. Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Altagracia comes bursting forth with vivacious black cherries, blackberries, wild blueberries and cassis notes with touches of cinnamon stick, cloves, forest floor, violets and dusty earth with a waft of violets. The palate is medium to full-bodied, firm and grainy with loads of iron and mineral accents, finishing long and perfumed.