Warren Winiarski planted this benchland site in 1970, a parcel adjacent and just to the south of Nathan Fay’s vineyard, which produced the grapes that had initially attracted Winiarski to this place at the rim of the Stags Leap escarpment. As it turned out, the soils at S.L.V. were different, primarily volcanic. The vineyard is best known for having produced the wine that won the Paris Tasting of 1976—from vines then three years old—and this latest vintage is a window into how that might have happened. The 35-acre site is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, today at a range of ages; the oldest block, a five-acre hillside, dates to 1972 (there’s a small block of Merlot that did not go into this wine). Aged in 100 percent new oak, S.L.V. has the density of flavor to completely absorb the oak and its tannins, transforming that espresso-roast scent into layers of dark and savory flavors of fresh black fruit. Even as the flavor is saturated and the texture supple, it feels airy and seamless, a wine of finesse and elegance rather than weight.
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon S.L.V. is a paragon of elegance and finesse, yet doesn't cheat the taster on flavor. Dense ruby/purple with round, juicy, earthy black cherry and blackcurrant fruit, underbrush and forest floor, the wine is fragrant, medium to full-bodied, soft, seductive and round. This is a lovely, juicy, pure style of wine to drink over the next 10-15 years. (RP)
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon SLV stands out in this range for its precise, chiseled fruit and overall elegance. At the same time, there is plenty of depth and density in the glass. Ash, smoke, graphite and crushed rocks add nuance, but a hint of sweetness on the finish is a bit distracting. (AG)
This estate-grown wine honors the historical vineyard that brought the Napa Valley worldwide attention for Cabernet. It offers both complexity and elegance, as well as an herbal underbrush accented by tobacco. Chocolate, caramel and coffee add to the intrigue around smooth, velvety tannins. (VB)
Offers a dusty, savory, loamy mix of dried berry, herb, underbrush and dark berry flavors, ending with a long, focused finish and layers of complexity. Drink now through 2028. (JL)
Very mellow and round. Subtle. Juicy, very lovely. Though more herbaceous than most. 17.5/20 points.
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