Posted by Fredric Koppel
Lovers of old-fashioned Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon — that is, not over-ripe, not over-oaked, not over-alcoholic — should go online and order some of the Hesperian Wines Cabernet Sauvignon 2015. It’s not cheap, but it’s an exemplar of what mountainside cabernet is all about. One hundred percent varietal, the wine was made half from grapes grown in the winery’s 14.2-acre estate Kitoko Vineyard in Atlas Peak and half from the Upstream Vineyard in the Coombsville appellation; hence the Napa Valley designation rather than Atlas Peak. It aged 20 months in French oak, 50 percent new barrels. The color is an intense black-ruby hue that shades to a lighter purple rim; the wine offers the notes of heather, sage and wild thyme; lavender, brambles and underbrush we expect from hillside vines grown in rocky, dry, poor soil, stressing the vines and making them work hard, as well as concentrated touches of dusty currants and cherries; it’s a highly perfumed wine that displays an edge of graphite and slightly astringent spices like cloves and allspice; the wine is lithe and supple on the palate, framed by rollicking tannins and a steep grade of graphite minerality, yet for all its ribs and spine, its grip and traction, this cabernet is beautifully knit and elegantly balanced, even at this relatively young age; still, as the moments pass, it becomes increasingly dusty and granitic. 14.5 percent alcohol. Proprietor and winemaker Philippe Langner produced 300 cases. Try now with a medium rare ribeye steak, hot and crusty from the grill, or cellar it through 2028 to ’33. Excellent. About $100.