If you spend any time at all tasting wine in Napa Valley some things become pretty apparent quickly. One of those things is the prevalence of Cabernet Sauvignon. You’d be hard pressed to spend a day in Napa and not taste a solid handful of different cabs; if not a ton of them. The dominance of Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa is such that when I run across the occasional producer who doesn’t make one it almost makes my head turn askew. Not that I’m complaining; I love excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley is home to some of the best examples in the world. Today I’ll take a look at two from Emblem. This Napa Valley producer is a project of father and son team Michael and Rob Mondavi. The Emblem 2006 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from grapes sourced at a single vineyard. This Rutherford vineyard sits east of the Napa River. This offering is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes were hand harvested. Extended maceration occurred over an average of 21 to 28 days. Barrel aging was accomplished over 22 months in French oak; 66% of the barrels were new. 6 months of bottle aging occurred prior to release. The suggested retail price for this wine is $50.
A host of berry aromas, violets and thyme are prominent in the alluring nose of this 2006 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate, which is slightly austere, shows off dark berry notes which are underscored by hints of espresso and black pepper. Earth, pencil lead, and dark bittersweet chocolate notes are part of the above average finish. Firm but yielding tannins and solid acidity mark the fine structure.
The second offering is the Emblem 2006 Oso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit for this selection was soured entirely from the family vineyard of same name. This selection is 100% varietal. Hand harvesting, de-stemming, gentle punch down and cap submersion were followed by 21 to 28 days of maceration. Barrel aging took place over 22 months in French oak; 45% of the barrels were new. 6 months of bottle aging followed prior to release. This Cabernet has a suggested retail price of $50.
Eucalyptus and dried berry aromas lead the nose of the Oso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. There is an excellent core of dried fruits throughout the palate. Red raspberry, cherry and cranberry are particular standouts with subtler strawberry and blackberry notes kicking in as well. Minerals, mocha, espresso, chicory and earth are all part of the lengthy finish of this wine. Soft, finely knit tannins and terrific acidity are part of the impressive package here.
Both of these wines from Emblem are excellent expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon. What impresses me most about each of them is the remarkable balance and even keeled nature they show while maintaining length and intensity of flavor. These are Napa wines to be sure but they have old world intent and proportion. They’re both delicious now and each has the structure to age well, over the next decade.