I was able to taste four vintages of the estate’s flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, their Hillside Select. This first growth-like cuvée was first made in 1978 and always comes from their estate Hillside Vineyard just above their estate in Stags Leap. This is a 54-acre south-facing, amphitheater-like vineyard of thin, rocky, volcanic soils. Today the cuvée is always 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that spends upwards of 32 months in new French oak. It is consistently one of the greatest Cabernet Sauvignons in the world. Starting with their 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select, it boasts a deep, saturated purple hue as well as a heavenly bouquet of sweet blueberry and cassis fruits interwoven with plenty of graphite, tobacco, and lead pencil notes, with ample minerality emerging with time in the glass. This was a hot, low-yielding vintage for Napa, and while this beauty is massively concentrated, it’s also silky and seamless, with great tannins, no sense of over-ripeness or heaviness, and a finish that goes on for nearly a minute. This is a brilliant, incredibly sexy wine to enjoy over the coming 30-40 years.
There’s an intensely ripe, fresh and vibrant edge to this focused, elegant and assertively pure cabernet that delivers attractive blueberry and cassis aromas in stylish form. The palate arrives as a precise and focused suite of ripe blueberry and blackberry flavors, building smoothly to an attractively crisp and even-paced finish. Another superb edition of this wine.
Very deep purple-black in color, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select comes bounding out of the glass with gregarious scents of crème de cassis, warm black cherries, plum preserves and Indian spices with hints of lilacs, garrigue, stewed tea and cigar box plus a waft of charcuterie. Full-bodied, rich, boldly fruited and wildly decadent, it has a rock-solid frame of grainy tannins and compelling freshness, finishing with loads of earthy and savory layers. (LPB) 98+
The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is a total knock-out. Given the heat and tiny yields of the year, one might reasonably expect a big wine; this, however, has really grown into an elegant, polished Cabernet. Silky, perfumed and rich, the 2015 is exquisitely beautiful, super-elegant and expressive. Gorgeous dark red/purplish fruit, floral and spice inflections lead into the beautifully persistent finish. (AG)
Having spent three years in barrel, this 100% varietal wine (from the producer’s famous hillside) is brawny in concentrated black fruit, Christmas spice and thick, firm tannin. A dusty thread of crushed rock, black licorice and flint provide exotic accents to the velvety thick grip. *Cellar Selection* (VB)
A big wine waiting to unwind. When it does, the core of steeped plum, blueberry and açaí reduction flavors should stretch out nicely over melted licorice and Black Forest cake elements. A graphite spine holds everything together, while embers of smoldering apple wood flicker through the very long finish. (JM)
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