2019 Dana Estates 'Helms' Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford
Only 422 cases were made of this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which promises to disappear into some very lucky cellars while it ages into even more spectacular complexity and poise. James Suckling was generous with his praise (and points) in writing up the wine: “Full-bodied with extremely fine tannins that go on and on. Beautiful center palate that is dense yet polished and fine and continues on. Exceptional. Fantastic finish.” A bouquet of rose petals sets the stage for elegant flavors of black cherry, mocha, and exotic spice. Delicious already, but a few more years of bottle age will really show the greatness here. The only question is, will you be one of the lucky few to enjoy it?
“This estate has turned into one of the superstars of Napa Valley thanks to the energetic and visionary ownership of Korean Hi Sang Lee and his son [in-law], along with the winemaking guru Philippe Melka. These are all sensational wines coming from some of the best sites in Napa Valley.” – Robert Parker Dana [DAH-nah] means “Spirit of Generosity” in Sanskrit, and it’s a fitting description for the hospitable vibe of this beautiful winery and compound in the northwest corner of the Rutherford Bench, not to mention the rich and giving wines that are made there. We’re thrilled to introduce you to Dana Estates, offering wines of precision and symmetrical beauty. Proprietor Hi Sang Lee is a wine nut, and that’s putting it mildly. In the early 1990s, he realized that nobody was importing the greatest wines of the United States into South Korea, and over the years, by dint of sheer determination and hustle, built a very successful wine importing company. Today his portfolio is full of luminaries like Harlan, Bond, Caymus, Dominus, Screaming Eagle, Shafer, Peter Michael, and Kosta Browne. In 2005 Mr. Hi decided to join ‘em, buying a ghost winery and vineyard called Helms, and completing a total renovation of a stone winery that had lay in ruins for decades. Only a consultant like Philippe Melka would do to oversee winemaking. Today this property is a new luminary of the Napa Valley, producing utterly collectible wines.
Helms vineyard consists of five acres on gravelly loam, right on the northern edge of the Rutherford bench, planted in 1997 and 1998 to Cabernet Sauvignon clones See and 337. This barrel sample of the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Helms Vineyard is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and is due to be aged for 21 months in French oak barrels, 100% new. Deep garnet-purple colored, it explodes with bombastic scents of crushed blackberries, plum preserves and crème de cassis followed by nuances of red roses, black tea, eucalyptus oil and dusty soil. Medium to full-bodied, the palate shimmers with juicy black fruits, supported by ripe, soft tannins and lovely freshness, finishing long and fragrant. 402 cases are projected to be made.
Aromas of red currants, crushed stone, bark and some red licorice follow through to a medium to full body with creamy and medium-round tannins. Hints of chocolate, walnut and stone. Really fine-grained and silky tannins. Try after 2026.
The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Helms Vineyard is a medium to full-bodied, ripe, exotic, already complex beauty that gives up lots of cassis and plum fruits, notes of violets, orange blossom, and spice, building tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. It’s an incredibly complex, layered, satisfying Cabernet Sauvignon to drink over the coming 20-25 years.
The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Helms Vineyard is soft, open-knit and gracious, as it always is. Silky tannins lend considerable charm to this decidedly polished, understated Cabernet from Dana. Crushed flowers, mint, spice, cedar and sweet pipe tobacco linger on the close. It will be interesting to see if the Helms gains more volume with time in bottle. Today it is decidedly on the ethereal side of things, within the context of these wines. Bright floral notes linger on the close.