2017 Lithology 'Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard' Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley


Legendary vineyards make for legendary wines, and this beauty is no exception. Smoldering nose of incense, tobacco leaf and crème de cassis leads into inky fruit flavors, blackberry cordial, truffles and earth on a full-bodied, packed palate.

When he decided to establish a family domaine in his own name in the Napa Valley, international wine entrepreneur Alejandro Bulgheroni did everything right. The details are simply dizzying. First, he bought a vineyard and winery just south of Meadowood Resort in St. Helena, where Bill Harlan and his team made some of their wines before he moved into new facilities on the west side of Oakville. He hired Jim Barbour, a Rutherford native and veteran of over 40 Napa Valley harvests to manage this Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate Vineyard. Barbour has also been responsible for tending the vines of such luminaries as Hundred Acre, Checkerboard, Gandona, Blankiet, and Grace Family.There would be no question that Bulgheroni would also purchase fruit from Andy Beckstoffer’s jewel box vineyards, such as To Kalon in Oakville, and Las Piedras and Dr. Crane in St. Helena. The winemaking team had to be the best in the world. Bulgheroni hired superstar winemaker Philippe Melka [Dominus, Pétrus] and his onetime mentor Michel Rolland to oversee oenology. Day to day winemaking is handled by Matt Sands, an alum of harvests at Screaming Eagle and Bryant Family. Critical acclaim inevitably followed. In December of last year, Robert Parker scored every 2015 and 2016 Bulgheroni wine above 95, with the 2016 Lithology Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon scoring a potential 100 points.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Philippe Melka
Oak Treatment:
82% New Oak
Napa Valley
Beckstoffer Dr. Crane
Total Varietal Composition %:
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol %:
Score Wine Advocate:
Score Wine Spectator:
Score Vinous:
SKU #:
750 ml Bottle

Wine Advocate

Fruit for this was harvested from September 25-29, fermented in oak, stainless and puncheon and aged in 82% new oak. Very deep garnet-purple in color, the 2017 Lithology Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard, containing 5% Petit Verdot, is a tad broody to begin, reluctantly revealing black fruit notions of stewed plums, blackcurrant cordial, dried bay leaves and tree bark with wafts of truffles and iron ore. Full-bodied, the palate has densely packed, taut, muscular black fruits and tons of earthy accents, supported by ripe, fine-grained tannins, finishing long and wonderfully evocative of this incredible vineyard. Bravo!


Jeb Dunnuck

Flowery incense, tobacco leaf, crème de cassis, currants, and scorched earth notes all dominate the bouquet of the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Lithology Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard. With classic To Kalon sexiness as well as full-bodied power and richness, it stays beautifully balanced and offers ripe tannins as well as a great finish. It's another brilliant wine from this estate that’s up with the top handful of wines in the vintage.


Wine Spectator

A ripe, polished and bold wine, with creamed plum and blackberry fruit flavors gliding through, infused with smoldering black tea, singed alder and bittersweet cocoa notes. The cocoa edge adds a nice textural element on the rich finish. A lovely example of the not-shy style. Best from 2021 through 2032.


James Suckling

This is big and tight with beautifully polished tannins and gravel-like and inky flavor and texture. It’s muscular, yet long and focused. Wet earth under the dark berries. Chewy and pretty. Needs time to soften. Drink after 2022.



Sweet cherry, pomegranate, mint, rose petal and white flowers flesh out in an ample, open-knit Cabernet built on textural resonance and a total sense of seduction. Heady floral overtones emerge on the finish, adding lift and perfume.