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2016 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow

2016 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow

100 RP

Critic Reviews

The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Gravelly Meadow is made up of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Very deep purple-black colored, it sashays out of the glass with beautifully provocative black cherries, blueberry compote and warm cassis scents followed by candied violets, molten chocolate, licorice and fallen leaves plus hints of black olives and lavender. Medium to full-bodied, the palate reveals explosive energy wrapped in a silken carpet of exquisitely fine-grained tannins, finishing with amazing freshness and perfume. Gorgeous.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 100 RP
Graphite, smoke, grilled herbs, lavender, licorice, black cherry and plum are some of the many notes that run through the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Gravelly Meadow. Savory and virile in feel, the 2016 boasts tremendous nuance and tons of pure character. Here, too, the new oak is a bit prominent in the early going. The oak needs time to settle down, but that should not be a problem in the long run, as the wine seems to have the underlying depth to handle it.

Vinous Media | 96 VM
Black-licorice and blackberry aromas with hints of iron and hot stone. Full-bodied, dense and layered with a soft, succulent feel. Juicy and delicious aftertaste. Drink or hold. Better after 2021.

James Suckling | 96 JS
Broad and deep, with dark plum and blackberry preserve flavors rolling along, lined with ganache and roasted alder notes. Savory, bay leaf and tobacco hints flitter in the background, adding energy, texture and detail. Will need some time. Best from 2022 through 2040. 623 cases made.

Wine Spectator | 95 WS
An old-school European style with a great nose of toffee, mocha with blackcurrants and dried herbs. Grippy structure and fresh acidity; this is a youthful wine that will age gracefully. Grown in the soils of a prehistoric river bed, these gravels drain well and the vine’s roots to penetrate deeply.

Decanter | 95 DEC
From a five-acre section of the vineyard, this classic red is blended with 8% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Crushed rock, red fruit and warm baking spices combine around a grippy midpalate of leather, clove and tobacco—the power gracefully persistent. The finish is brambly and bright. Allow this youthful wine to age; enjoy best from 2026–2031.

Wine Enthusiast | 94 WE
New oak gives this wine an initial blush of sweetness, but as the flavors open up, the impression is completely savory. This grows in a gravel wash on the south bank of Diamond Creek, a cool site tucked into a manzanita grove. In 2016, the vines were closing in on 50 years, and the wine they offered evokes roses, soil and manzanita bark more than any direct fruit. There’s a black olive tone to preface what fruit will emerge with bottle age; as for now, the wine feels youthful and restrained.

Wine & Spirits Magazine | 92 W&S

Wine Details for 2016 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow

Type of Wine California Red : Whether it's Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Zinfandel, Californian red wine producers have a lovely habit of taking a varietal and expressing its essence in a unique, never before seen way. From Napa Valley to the regions south of Los Angeles, there's a red for everyone - and it's never too late to start exploring.
Varietal Cabernet Sauvignon : It is recognized worldwide, referred to as “king of grapes” and has easily become the most popular grape variety in the world. Cabernet Sauvignon has seemingly taken the world by storm. It has seen exponential growth and popularity in American and around the world over the past thirty years. The phrase “Cabernet is king,” is a common maxim in the world of wine. Cabernet Sauvignon wine has become so popular that when being referred to can be recognized by simple slang, such as “Cab” or “Cabernet. It might appear simple, straightforward and easily understood; yet, interestingly remains an enigma, which has both baffled and excited oenologists since its discovery.

The exact origin and circumstances of this world-altering event are still enigmatic; however, at the end of the 20th century, UC Davis Scientists (John Bowers and Carole Meredith) were able to solve part of the mystery using DNA fingerprinting technology that proved Cabernet Sauvignon to be the offspring of a surprising spontaneous crossing of Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. By the 18th century there were already records of Cabernet Sauvignon being well-established on the west side of the Gironde Estuary (Left Bank) in the Medoc and Graves.

Although tremendously popular in California and what seems to have become the identity of Napa Valley winemaking, Cabernet Sauvignon’s birth took place in the Bordeaux region of southwest France by fortuitous unification. Whereas Napa Valley experienced a winemaking renaissance during the 1970’s and 1980s (greatly due to the 1976 Judgement of Paris) quality wine from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape has been produced in the Medoc, on the Left Bank of Bordeaux for over 400 years.

Cabernet Sauvignon’s first recorded plantings in California can be traced back to the 1850’s when Antoine Delmas, a French nurseryman, brought French vines (including one called ‘Cabrunet’) to the Santa Clara Valley. Early cultivation suffered due to obscurity of the varietal and improper planting in inhospitable soil. It wasn’t until pioneers such as Robert Mondavi, Randy Dunn and Warren Winiarski with their amazing foresight and understanding of terroir, would the grape variety finally find its niche in California winemaking.

Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in warm climates moderated by a cooling marine influence. It is perfectly attuned to gravel-based soils with good drainage. Whether on flat land or a hillside, the Cabernet Sauvignon grape flourishes in proper climates and terroir, producing incredible yields. The thick grapevine is extremely vigorous allowing it to exploit its natural host. Its distinctive small, black berries (reminiscent of blueberries) adhere firmly to the stalk and are capable of a very long “hang time.” These berries are extremely concentrated, producing intensely flavored fruit. The thick skins of the grape are characterized as having highly astringent flavor, high tannin, acidity and dark color. Coincidentally, the variety has a special affinity for oak, which helps soften the bitterness.

Today, the Noble Bordeaux varietal of Cabernet Sauvignon is planted on 340,000 hectares (741,300 acres) of vineyards across the earth’s surface. From Sicily to Sonoma, Chile to Bordeaux, South Africa to Napa. It has found symbiosis in terroir hotspots that mimic that of the Medoc and Napa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon’s globetrotting has allowed the grape variety to take root all over the world, captivating its inhabitants and influencing winemaking. This serendipitous marriage between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc centuries ago, which offered to the world its progeny, has changed the landscape of winegrowing, winemaking and the face of the entire wine market forever. It has influenced blending, changed civilization and has cultivated a place for itself in today’s world… the very pinnacle.

Country US : As one of the most prolific and innovative wine regions in the world, America is a joy to explore. Most wine connoisseurs will agree that the nation's finest and most compelling wines are being produced today, which means that we have front-row seats to one of the most inspirational stories in wine history. While other regions tend to focus on specific wine styles and have somewhat strict rules as to which varietals you could grow, areas like California have few such restrictions in place. As a result, creative visionaries behind America's most reputable estates have been able to develop compelling, unique, and innovative styles, with a level of terroir expression that rivals even France's largest giants.
Region California : With a history of wine production that dates back to the 18th century, California currently sits as one of the world's most prolific and reputable wine regions. With an area as vast as California, you can expect a colorful collage of terroir profiles, a series of microclimates, and micro-environments that give the wine a unique, memorable appeal. The region's produce is far from homogenized in that sense, and it would take you countless hours to sample all of it. While the region boasts scars from the Prohibition era, it went through what can only be described as a viticultural Renaissance sometime after the 1960s. At that point, California went from a port-style, sweet wine region to a versatile and compelling competitor on the world market. Today, no matter which way your taste in wine leans, you can find a new favorite producer among California's most talented.

Notable sub-regions include legendary names like Napa Valley and Sonoma County, places that any wine lover would die to visit. California's quintessential warm climate allows for incredibly ripe fruit expressions, a style that provides a stark contrast to Old World-inspired, earthy classics. Even where inspiration was clearly taken from staple French appellations, Californian winemakers put their own unique spin on the wine.
Subregion Napa Valley
Appellation Diamond Mountain District
Climat/Vineyard Gravelly Meadow


Producer Diamond Creek : In 1968 a piece of land in Diamond Creek canyon was about to be converted into a golf course; however, the property was destined for a much greater purpose. With a stroke of luck, the property was instead purchased by Al Brounstein, who decided to exploit the property’s unique terroir and grow single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Diamond Creek Vineyards was created. The property would become an iconic Napa Valley estate and the proprietor, a pioneer who defied modern conventions, changing the landscape of Bordeaux varietals grown in the Diamond Mountain AVA and making history.

With incredible vision and foresight, Brounstein realized the potential for growing Cabernet Sauvignon in the property’s exceptional soil structure. His goal was to plant single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and to display the difference in the terroir and micro-climate in each unique vineyard site. This practice was unheard of at the time but Brounstein was undeterred and with vines from two Bordeaux First Growths, smuggled in from Mexico (so the legend goes) he began planting some of the acreage on his 79-acre property.

Located in the narrow Diamond Creek canyon, the 21 acres under vine have extraordinary properties. The estate is divided into four separate parcels with each sharing similar commonalities. All four parcels are close to the same elevation of 600 feet and planted from budwood obtained from the same source. The terroir and micro-climate of each parcel; however, are very much unique in their own regards.

Gravelly Meadow is a 5-acre parcel planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. It is relatively flat and was once a pre-historic riverbed, situated in one of the cooler micro-climates. The terroir is comprised of rocky, porous brown soils which drain rapidly, compelling the vines to struggle for moisture.

In a warmer micro-climate, Red Rock Terrace is situated on 7-acres of steeply terraced landscape. Its rocky, red-tinted soil is high in oxidized iron content, which lends to its name. Due to its northerly aspect, the grapes receive less direct sunlight. The Cabernet Sauvignon vines are planted on a steep grade using a series of terraces.

As one would expect, Volcanic Hill is planted on 8-acres of light, fluffy, ashy soil; remnants of the eruption of Mt. Konocti which occurred eight million years ago. This vineyard site is a south-facing hillside and its location grants it the warmest micro-climate. Volcanic Hill produces Diamond Creek’s most powerful and long-lived Cabernet Sauvignon.

The coolest micro-climate in the vineyard is a tiny 3/4 –acre parcel sitting at the western edge of the property. Lake Vineyard’s exposure to the breezes coming through the Mayacamas Canyon awards the grapes with extended “hang-time” on the vine. Its terroir is composed of loose, gravelly soil and is the wettest location in the vineyard. Lake Cabernet Sauvignon is produced only in the greatest vintages. In years not produced, its grapes are blended into Gravelly Meadow. It is the only site that was not planted in 1968, but was rather planted a few years later in 1972.

The Diamond Creek wines debuted in the poor 1972 vintage but despite the difficult year, Brounstein was able to see the differences in each of the wines due to their distinctive soil types. This unimaginable, unique concept was well ahead of its time, making Diamond Creek the first California winery to produce wine made from only 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and to showcase each parcel’s distinctive terroir. Diamond Creek has gone on to become one of the most iconic and unique vineyards in Napa Valley, producing some of the most compelling Cabernet Sauvignons in California. The average annual production for all 21-acres is around 3,000 cases.

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