To know Silver Oak is to love it, but let’s get into the details that define the 2017 vintage of the steak-night staple. A welcome break in a long running drought cycle left key vineyards with perfectly saturated soils, primed for the mild spring and summer heat waves. The vines were pampered and protected as needed and, by the time fires started flaring, the fruit was all tucked in at the winery. After blending in 2018, it spent a good two years in American Oak, resulting in this ruby dream with aromas of blackberry, blueberry and roasted coffee beans. Smooth, broad and plush in the mouth, the elegant density follows through on a long, generous finish. Ready to drink tonight, this will age with grace for another two decades.
There are few wineries in California that embody the pioneering spirit of Napa Valley better than Silver Oak. Founded in 1972, Ray Duncan went all-in with Cabernet Sauvignon early in the game, and the rest, as they say, is history. This mighty oak's roots run deep, and have helped this family-owned winery stand tall and strong amidst Napa's constant winds of change. While many wineries with Silver Oak’s track record and sales volume are content to rest on their laurels and coast, this Oakville institution is relentlessly pursuing perfection anew. They’re doing it primarily in the vineyard, modifying their vineyard practices to ensure that every grape is optimally ripe before it enters the winery. They even have a machine that rolls through the vineyard, scanning and measuring the diameter of emerging shoots in order to map vine vigor (and therefore determine irrigation and pruning needs). That’s pretty intense. The results speak for themselves.
This is a big upgrade in finesse and clarity to such a popular, premium cabernet from Napa. It shows lots of blackberry, tar, cedar and oak-tree aromas that follow through to a full yet toned palate of fine, integrated tannins and a vivid finish. Owner David Duncan explained that the American oak they use in the wine for aging now comes 100% from their own barrel-making facilities, which tones down the vanilla character in the wine. Really impressive and delicious. It’s a joy to drink now, but can age.