2018 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Parker | 97+ RP
Jeb Dunnuck | 97 JD
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate comes soaring out of the glass with energetic notions of fresh blackberries, black cherries and cassis plus nuances of dark chocolate, kirsch, cardamom and tilled soil with a fragrant waft of violets. The full-bodied palate is densely packed with perfumed black fruit flavors, supported by firm, grainy tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long with loads of mineral accents.
Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 97+ RP
The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon is a powerful, explosive wine that is going to need a number of years to be at its finest. The energy and raw intensity are so pronounced. Inky dark fruit, spice, menthol, licorice and cedar add striking aromatic nuance, but it is the wine’s phenomenal balance that stands out most. This is the first vintage that includes component wine aged in amphora. This is far from an easygoing 2018.
Antonio Galloni | 97 AG
This throws a lot at you from the get-go, with sassafras, sweet bay leaf and red tea notes leading off, before the core of red and black currant paste and boysenberry reduction starts to assert itself. Licorice and fruitcake accents check in late, with all the other elements falling into line easily through the lengthy finish. Distinctive and gorgeous. Best from 2022 through 2038. 1,000 cases made.
Wine Spectator | 96 WS
This has a perfumed nose of violets, blueberry pie, vanilla and crushed walnuts. It’s full-bodied with firm, powdery tannins. Powerful yet fresh, with intense layers of blue fruit, flowers and wood spices. Better from 2022.
James Suckling | 95 JS
A luscious, ripe but tucked-in expression of eastern Oakville Cabernet from Andy Erickson. The nose is voluptuous and chock full of ripe red and purple fruits surrounded by subtle toasted oak aromas. The palate is delectably sweet and concentrated, showing flavours of boysenberry, candied black cherries, fresh tobacco and brown sugar. A full-throttle wine but reigned in enough to still show poise and purity. Drinking Window 2026 - 2039.
Decanter | 95 DEC
Wine Details for 2018 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon
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: 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.
: 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.
: 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.
: 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.
: Sometimes dreams must die in order for new ones to take hold, grow and prosper. In the early 1980’s, Gustav and Naoko Dalla Valle moved to Napa Valley with plans to build a luxury resort and restaurant. They were introduced to a small piece of property in the rugged hills of Oakville. After discovering the major hurdles they would need to clear in order to build the resort but also the potential for growing premium grape varietals, they decided to cultivate the land and become winegrowers. They may not have dreamt that the rocky, iron-rich soils of their 20-acre estate would become the site of a Napa First Growth nor envisioned it rising to “cult” status or becoming one of California’s most sought after and iconic brands. But… dreams do come true.
Dalla Valle’s debut vintage was in 1986, which was the birth of their estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon. It was also the year their daughter was conceived. The following year, when Maya was born, a 5-acre block of Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in her name and would become one of the most revered winegrowing sites in America. Years later, this sensational vineyard yielded the 1992 Dalla Valle Maya, which would go on to earn a 100-point score from legendary critic, Robert Parker and the estate’s first professional perfect rating.
Sadly, Gustav passed away in 1995; however, Naoko has continued to be a guiding force, quietly earning a reputation as one of Napa Valley’s most respected vintners. She is the embodiment of a hands-on owner, recognized as a passionate farmer, and firm believer that great wines are made in the vineyard. In 2017, Naoko was joined by her daughter, Maya, a gifted winemaker who learned the trade working at some of the world’s most iconic wineries. Together they have passionately continued the dream that started in 1986 with the first bottling of Dalla Valle.
The estate’s 20 acres located on the eastern hillside of Oakville at an elevation reaching 450 feet, sees a plentitude of sunshine. Constant breezes off the San Pablo Bay influence a cooler temperature allowing the grapes to retain natural acidity. The terroir is composed of mineral-rich, volcanic soils which allow the perfect amount of drainage required by the varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Dalla Valle focuses on a holistic approach to vineyard health and vitality, where cover crops are grown, composting, and natural soil additives are employed.
Dalla Valle produces three main wines; Cabernet Sauvignon, Maya, and Collina. The Collina is the newest offering and is blended from the estates youngest vines. It is quite approachable upon release but much like the rest of the line-up can be enjoyed for up to a decade or longer. The Cabernet Sauvignon and the original bottling from the estate generally contain at least 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot and is sourced from the best blocks. The signature blend of Maya is nearly half Cabernet Sauvignon, half Cabernet Franc but varies on the vintage. The Cabernet is sourced from the “Maya” block which consistently produces the most compelling wine on the estate. It is one of the longest lived wines from California and can take over a decade before starting to express its full character.
A mere 3,000 cases are produced annually for the entire portfolio of Dalla Valle wines which are reserved for sale through a private mailing list only. When and if these wines reach the market, they are quickly procured by enthusiasts who typically keep an eye out for them.