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Pride Mountain Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon MagnumNapa/Sonoma Counties, California 2017 (1500ml) (1.5L)

From the Wine Shop

Pride Mountain Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon Magnum Napa/Sonoma Counties, California 2017 (1500ml) (1.5L)

Fruit
Earth
Body
Tannin
Acid
Alcohol
“There’s nothing else in the world like mountain-grown Napa Valley Cabernet. And there may be no greater value in mountain-grown Napa Cabernet than this time-tested stunner from Pride Mountain Vineyards.”

Jim and Carolyn Pride purchased what would become Pride Mountain Vineyards in 1989; previously, the property was known as the Summit Ranch, situated at a crest in the Mayacamas range not far from other high-elevation icons like Smith-Madrone and Spring Mountain Vineyards. Wines had been made at Summit Ranch as far back as the 1890s, but Prohibition turned the place into one of Napa’s many “ghost wineries,” the ruins of which are still found on the property today. Climbing up to about 2,000 feet above the valley floor and covering some 85 acres of undulating vineyards, the Pride Mountain estate is the kind of special, secluded place that, once you’ve seen it, turns you into a lifetime customer.

Because the vineyards straddle the Napa/Sonoma County line, today’s flagship Cabernet is always labeled with the percentages of fruit used from either side. This one, as is visible on the label, is 53% Napa, 43% Sonoma, and 100% “mountain” through and through. The soils are volcanic loam, and the elevation here is such that the vines sit above the “fog line,” meaning they experience less temperature variation than the valley floor below. The lows aren’t as low and the highs aren’t as high, and as such the vine’s metabolism never shuts down; it’s a more even, and, overall, a cooler, climate, and this combined with the intense UV light at elevation results in grapes with good natural acidity levels but great concentration. They develop thick skins rich in the anthocyanins that give “mountain” Cabernets their robust character. 

Winemaker Sally Johnson, who has been with Pride since 2007, has mastered the art of taming some of that tannic brawn in the interest of balance; she sourced from 27 distinct vineyard blocks for this 2017, vinifying each separately and the aging each separately for about six months before assembling a blend. In all, the wine spends 18 months in French oak barrels, of which 50% are new.

When tasting this 2017, one thing becomes clear immediately: great mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon isn’t just about power. The precision balance of this wine is what impressed me most—it is richly layered, with lush flavors and impeccable balance. In the glass, it’s an opaque dark crimson with a purple/black-ish tint, with a big blast of dark fruits leading things off: blackberry, mulberry, cassis, currant. Then the savory elements chime in: cacao, warm spice, leather, tobacco, cedar. It is the perfect kind of full-bodied—palate-coating but fresh, finishing with a violet-scented flourish. If enjoying a bottle now, decant it 60 minutes before enjoying in big Bordeaux stems at 60 degrees, being sure to pair it with a proper hunk of meat to do it justice. Otherwise, this wine has 10-15 years of positive evolution ahead of it, ready to be uncorked on special occasions in the future. I’ll be grabbing a few for sure. This is a benchmark! Enjoy!

  • CountryUnited States
  • RegionCalifornia
  • Sub-RegionNapa Valley
  • SoilVolcanic Loam
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendCabernet Sauvignon 93%, Petit Verdot 5%, Merlot 2%
  • Alcohol14.4%
  • Oak50% New French
  • Temp.Serve at 60° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2035
  • Decanting60 Minutes
  • PairingLeg of Lamb w/ Garlic & Rosemary

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