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2016 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon Rubicon

2016 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon Rubicon

97 TWI


Critic Reviews

This is a powerful and structured red with full body, focused and polished tannins and a long and flavorful finish. It’s very close to the great 2013. A blend of 93 per cent cabernet sauvignon and seven per cent cabernet franc. Needs three or four years to come around.

James Suckling | 97 JS
The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Rubicon is powerful, dark and unctuous, while retaining a super-classic sense of structure. Black cherry, plum, chocolate, leather, spice and menthol infuse the 2016 with striking textural depth and sweetness.

Antonio Galloni | 96 AG
The flagship 2016 Rubicon checks in as 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet Franc, and there are close to 4,000 cases produced. This deep purple-hued beauty boasts a stunning nose of blackcurrants, tobacco leaf, cedarwood, and lead pencil shavings as well as even a hint of iron. These carry to a full-bodied 2016 that has terrific dept of fruit, solid mid-palate concentration, building tannins, and a great finish. This is a classic, age-worthy Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that will benefit from 7-8 years of bottle age and keep for 3 decades.

Jeb Dunnuck | 96 JD
Blended of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet Franc, the deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Rubicon gives up bold notions of crushed red and black currants, wild blueberries and blackberry preserves with touches of violets, dark chocolate, cardamom and bay leaves plus a hint of unsmoked cigars. Medium to full-bodied, the palate reveals great elegance and depth, with a beautiful line of finely grained tannins and amazing freshness, finishing long and layered. 3,847 cases produced.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RP
In 2010 there was a change of winemaker at Rubicon, and the new arrival was Philippe Bascaules from Château Margaux. He soon made changes that were, one assumes, aimed at bringing more elegance and less density to the wine. This is certainly apparent here - the nose is ripe and vibrant, with intense mint and blackberry aromas that display purity of fruit and well-judged oak. Suave and polished, it shows finer tannins than the 2006, and enough acidity to give punch and persistence. It has a drier finish than most Napa Cabernets, which often have a sweetness that may be derived from high alcohol. So, there’s a welcome austerity here and this will age well. Drinking Window 2020 - 2040.

Decanter | 94 DEC
This is an intriguingly feral, herbal and classically styled wine, dripping in sage, toasted oak and wrap-around tannin. Cranberry, clove and cassis form a tangle of nuanced, graceful flavor nestled within a core of impressive structure. This is one to put away for awhile; enjoy best 2026—2036.

Wine Enthusiast | 93 WE
When Philippe Bascaules arrived at Inglenook in 2011, the estate’s Cask Cabernet was defined by its red-fruit character while Rubicon was defined by black fruit. He preferred to focus on the wine’s texture. Now commuting between Rutherford and Château Margaux, where he had worked for two decades with Paul Pontallier, he has changed the viticultural practice at Inglenook. In 2016, Rubicon is neither red nor black—in fact, it’s more blueberry in flavor. But what sets it apart is the plump, polished, mineral texture. As a young wine, it’s shy, gentle, finely structured cabernet, with no rough edges. There’s a sense of certainty, however, that such a wine, from a team secure enough to present it without youthful fanfare, will evolve to express the detail and complexity of this vineyard, its track record proven for more than a century. It’s a different way to think about Napa Valley Cabernet.

Wine & Spirits | 93 W&S
A savory hint leads the way, followed quickly by ample red currant and blackberry fruit flavors. Tobacco and freshly plowed earth accents score the finish, where the savory element lingers. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2021 through 2030. 3,847 cases made.

Wine Spectator | 92 WS

Wine Details for 2016 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon Rubicon

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 Rutherford
Cru Estate Bottled


Producer Inglenook : Napa Valley was shaped by its founding fathers; pioneers who dared to invest in an industry, which at the time was dominated by France. One of the oldest, most interesting story-lines belongs to Inglenook winery and the man who founded the estate in 1879, Gustave Niebaum. Young, wealthy and ambitious, Gustave had a vision of creating an American winery to rival the great chateaux of Europe. Years of challenges and hardships were met with pride and determination and the outcome is written on the label. Today, Inglenook remains the crown jewel of the Napa Valley, under the stewardship of the Coppola family.

Gustave “The Captain” Niebaum arrived to San Francisco in 1868, after sailing throughout Alaska and its surrounding islands with a cargo of fur hides and seal skins worth $600,000 (a fortune) where he settled and with a group of partners founded the Alaska Commercial Company. The company established trading posts and shipping lines in Alaskan territory, becoming quite lucrative for the already affluent Niebaum. Within a few years after leaving his native Finland, Niebaum was a multi-millionaire, with a taste for luxury and extravagance, eager to develop a wine brand that would compete with the worlds greatest.

Already accomplished, having graduated from Helsinfgors Nautical Institute and captaining his first ship by the age of 21, Gustave began acquiring land for his dream winery, which he spent years developing (after its acquisition). In 1882 the construction of the main house (completed in 1887-still in use today) commenced and in the same year he purchased an additional 712 acres of vines, expanding the estate to more than 1,200 acres of land. The vineyards were re-planted to predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, along with various other French and German varietals. His next step was creating a series of underground caverns for the aging process, mimicking the great caves of Bordeaux.

Inglenook enjoyed early success, quickly rising to fame after winning a gold medal at the 1889 Paris Exposition. That notoriety created opportunities for their wines to be placed in all the First Class dining cars on the Canadian Pacific Railroad. The newly found wealth from his success allowed Gustave to continually increase the size of the vineyards, producing a wide range of products including Zinfandel, Bordeaux Blends and sweet dessert wines, with an impressive yearly output. Inglenook was one of, if not the, first California wineries to bottle and sell their own wines, advertising a guarantee of authenticity.

In the years following “The Captain’s” death, the estate was faced with uncertainty and unprecedented challenges as Prohibition began crippling California’s wine industry. Gustave’s widow, Susan Niebaum would help keep the estate afloat by selling grapes to home markets and to neighboring Beaulieu Vineyards, which made sacramental wines for the Catholic Church. She would remain in charge of the winery until their grand-nephew, John Daniel Jr. would become of age, which took place in 1939.

John Daniel Jr., under the tutelage of Inglenook’s expert winemaker, Carl Bundschu, from the esteemed and highly active Sonoma wine family, continued Captain Neibaum’s commitment to quality. The wine industry was rebuilding and Daniel would help to once again breed confidence in the market and reassure customers with his new found motto “Pride, not profit.” The estate would subsequently win many awards, including the most of any California winery at San Francisco’s Golden Gate International Exposition that marked the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon, produced during Daniel’s tenure would go on to earn the reputation of being “among the best red wines ever made” when it was rated a perfect score (100 points) by Wine Spectator in 1990.

After the death of Daniel, the estate, its name and vineyards would be sold off, becoming a corporate venture in which volume and revenue trumped quality. However, the historic estate would be rescued by Award-winning director, writer and film producer, Francis Ford Coppola in 1975. Coppola was determined to restore the estate to its rightful place in history. He spent years re-acquiring the original property and hired legendary winemaker, Andre Tchelistcheff, affectionately known as “The Maestro”. Tchelistcheff is considered America’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker, recognized for his contributions in defining the style of California wines. Ironically, he modestly said that it was John Daniel Jr. rather than himself, who was Napa Valley’s greatest winemaker. A humble yet extraordinary statement which speaks volumes to the quality and success of one of the greatest families to ever own a Napa Valley winery.

Coppola’s swift and concentrated efforts on returning the estate to its original calling of quality over quantity, began to formulate and with the inaugural vintage of Rubicon, the estate’s flagship wine, Napa Valley once again saw the rise of Inglenook and one of its iconic wines come to fruition in 1978. Rubicon, the Estate’s premier red wine, reflects the soul of the property and expresses Francis Coppola’s wish to create a Bordeaux-styled grand Wine. Named after the small river crossed by Julius Caesar in 49 B.C., declaring his intention to gain control of Rome, thereby launching a civil war among opposing factions. Over time the phrase "crossing the Rubicon" has come to signify any irreversible action with revolutionary intent or the outcome of which holds great risk. True to its uncommon depth, Inglenook's Rubicon continues to be a testament to the finely tuned rendering of a risk well-taken. The flag-ship is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It can certainly be considered Coppola’s “blockbuster” wine creation.

Today, the Inglenook estate covers an impressive 1,700 contiguous acres, with nearly 235 acres dedicated to vineyards. French and Italian grape varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Primitivo are currently being cultivated at the estate. The variations in the estate’s topography, its slopes and valleys, greatly reflect the diversity of Napa Valley itself. The terroir is comprised of loamy, well drained soils near the rear of the estate to an expanse of vineyards with deeper, but finer soils located in front of the chateau, contributing to the singularity of Inglenook wines. The varietals are planted in harmony with the best suited soils.

In addition to the legendary Rubicon, the Inglenook portfolio also includes Cabernet Sauvignon, RC Reserve Syrah, Edizione Pennino Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and a Northern Rhone white blend, Blancaneaux. Meaning “white waters” in French, it is deservedly Inglenook’s preeminent white wine; a blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. The wines have become highly sought after and exported around the world. Approximately, 20,000 cases are produced each year with the Inglenook label; a label that has stood the test of time, has been rejuvenated and one which has become truly iconic and legendary.

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