Attention Cabernet fans! The CabFest is a terrific opportunity to taste a really large array of Napa Valley Cabernet over the event’s span of three days. Attendees face a veritable deluge of Cabernet Sauvignon! The third annual CabFest was held March 4-6 at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater, a spacious venue in Yountville. The Theater is a large and complex architectural work with lofty ceilings, multiple levels, and immense sheets of glass inviting daylight to enter. Virtually the entire facility was required to host CabFest’s numerous, non-stop activities.
Wine tastings occurred in several formats. For the most producers and bottles in one place at one time, there were two tastings to choose from. One was the Grand Tasting held in the Lincoln Theater Grand Foyer. The other was the Boutique Tasting of smaller production artisan wineries held in the Theater Mezzanine. To make scheduling more convenient for attendees, each was held on Saturday, and repeated on Sunday.
Opportunities for wine education abounded at the festival. I attended a symposium on a subject that I found particularly interesting, mountain vineyards and how the altitude and its ramifications affect the grapes and the associated wine. The symposium was held in an intimate format with guests seated on the Main Stage at tables close to the instructors and video screen. Not the least part of the symposium was a tasting of wines from those mountain vineyards.
There were plenty of learning and tasting opportunities at CabFest. Wine and food paring occasions occurred often. The vocabulary seminar, Speak Like a Somm (sommelier) encouraged wine talk. There were events like the kickoff concert just for fun, too. Function leaders were well credentialed including Master Sommeliers, vineyard managers, and winemakers. Culinary offerings by noteworthy Napa Valley chefs were sprinkled throughout CabFest. VIP parties were held in the many venues within the theatre. From start to finish the theme was, of course, Cabernet! If you like Cab, just go!
My Tasting Notes
93, Cabernet Sauvignon, Havens, Spring Mountain, 2013
Luscious aromas of very ripe blackberries, wax, with notes of violets. The wine opens in a multidimensional fashion showing thick extraction yet cutting like a blade, but simultaneously showing notable delineation of features with a smooth, supple, inviting touch and feel. The fine-grained texture opens, then gains definition to the finish. This is a hedonistic, multifaceted wine that is exceptionally well made and well put together.
90, Cabernet Sauvignon, WH Smith, Howell Mountain, 2012
The aroma in this 2012 is loaded with dark fruit from the Howell Mountain Cabernet estate grapes used to producer this wine. A light snowflake-like texture is evident, and the wine expands nicely on the palate. Plentiful extract is present in this precision offering, but this Cabernet remains very accessible and delicious.
91, Bordeaux blend, WH Smith, Howell Mountain, 2012
Beautiful harmonies and complexities are evident from the several Howell Mountain estate grape varieties used to produce this Bordeaux style blend. Like the 2012 WH Smith Cabernet, this too exhibits a lovely, expansive snowflake-texture with dark fruit aromas. Ample extract is present, adding contrast to the overall approachability of this luscious blend.
90, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barnet, Spring Mountain, 2013
Red-purple with medium body, this 2013 Spring Mountain Cabernet offers pure red and black fruit in a very light and lifting, textured wine. The managed tannins and elevated acid level should provide a structure for some aging, while the extract and focus help make this a wine of character.
90, Cabernet Sauvignon, Baldachi, Stags Leap, 2012
Medium purple in color. This 2013 Baldachi displays inviting, savory aromas while the taste reveals purity of bright red and black fruit dominated by blackberries and currants. The wine has plenty of extract with a lightly coating finish, but also delivers a very smooth texture with nicely managed tannins.
90, Cabernet Sauvignon, Antica, Atlas Peak, 2013
This Antinori Cabernet comes from his 1,200 acres on Napa’s Atlas peak. Better known for his wine production and 26 family generations in Tuscany and Umbria, Italy, he will gain in reputation in the USA if he continues to make wine this 2013. Red-purple in color, and lightly textured, the nose is perfumed with blossoms and red fruit. Good flavor content of ripe red fruit over a savory, umami background. Medium-weight, very approachable, with well-mannered tannins.
91, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lobo, Atlas Peak, 2013
A wine of altitude from vines planted on volcanic, rocky soil at 1,350 feet in elevation on Atlas Peak in Napa Valley. This middle-weight 2013 is complex and expansive in character, and quite engaging in demeanor. The mid-palate shows significant extract and rich dark fruit followed by a hint of spicebox. The wine finishes long and coating with well-managed, ripe tannins.
91, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stonehedge, Grand Reserve, Napa Valley, 2013, $65
Stonehedge has crafted a hedonistic and very approachable Cabernet for 2013. This deep purple, mid-weight opens with expansive aromas of blueberries, and red and black fruit mixed with a spicy note. Very expansive on the mid-palate, the wine has a marvelously weightless snowflake-like texture. A very well balanced effort with notable complexity.
91, Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery, Rutherford Estate, 2012, $100
This delightful, medium-weight offering from St. Supéry is deep red-purple in color, and sports a lovely, light, snowflake-like texture. The flavors of ripe fruit are intense yet expansive on the palate, and center on dark plum, blackberry cordial, caffè mocha, with a hint of walnuts. Nicely balanced, a good structure of behaved tannins, and a lasting finish.