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Ilaria, Napa Valley Cabernet SauvignonNapa Valley, California 2017 (750mL)

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Ilaria, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, California 2017 (750mL)

Fruit
Earth
Body
Tannin
Acid
Alcohol

After tasting Ilaria’s mind-blowing Napa Valley Cabernet, we decided to put our money where our mouths were: Instead of throwing out a hypothetical like “this would blow away Napa Cabs priced two to three times higher in a blind tasting,” we went the extra mile and put that theory to the test. So, we called on one of our close contacts with access to the valley’s most premium labels and he brought over three bottles that sported price tags of $100, $150, and $200. The clear standout remained today’s $60 stunner, crafted by risen-star Anna Monticelli. 


Ilaria is a personal passion project for Monticelli, whose full-time winemaking gig is at Piña, and her lengthy resume in the region (Seavey; Bryant Family) has exposed her to plenty of first-rate raw material. Using lush fruit from Napa Valley’s Atlas Peak and St. Helena sub-zones, Monticelli’s 2017 has all the concentration and power one could ask for in an opulent Napa red, but also terrific focus, Cabernet typicity, and genuine mineral character. I can’t overstate what a glorious value this is—easily among the market’s finest in terms of luxury bottlings—especially given what Cab lovers are willing to lay out for cult labels. Go big!




Monticelli has built up an impressive resume over the course of a decade-plus in the Valley. After graduating UC Davis, she moved on to the Sorbonne in France, then to Château Cheval-Blanc in Bordeaux for an eye-opening apprenticeship during the harvest of 2000. Upon returning home to Napa, she spent two years as assistant winemaker at Seavey Vineyards and four more at Bryant Family Vineyards before joining Piña in 2007. Her Ilaria wines, part of the In Vino Felicitas project she started with her husband, Mario, are named for their daughter, who was born in 2009, the first vintage of this wine. Sourced primarily from Cabernet vineyards in the volcanic soils of the Atlas Peak and rounded out with Merlot from St. Helena, this matured in mostly new French oak barriques for 22 months before bottling. 


But despite what the “tech sheet” says about new oak and lengthy aging, this is neither an overtly “oaky” nor an over-extracted style of Cab. As her experience shows, Monticelli knows Napa Cabernet, and this one has a compact and classic structure with a luxurious edge. Don’t get me wrong: Ilaria is a full-bodied Cab that floods all the pleasure centers, but it has powerful intensity and a focused feel alongside a backbone of freshness and contoured minerality. In the glass, it displays a dense, pitch-black core with ruby-garnet reflections on the rim. The nose effuses intoxicating scents of crushed blackberries, cassis, black cherry liqueur, vanilla bean, and huckleberry pie, with lots of textbook graphite, tobacco leaf, clove, and shaved cedar. There’s also a deep mineral component here—crushed gravel, dusty earth—that offers a precise counterpoint to the ripe and abundant fruit. And as noted above, this didn’t just “hang” with some of Napa’s $100-$200 Cabs, it flat-out dominated them. There’s no doubt this will age for a decade with ease, but it’s also already five years old so do enjoy a couple now after a 30-minute decant. Cheers!




Ilaria, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, California 2017 - SommSelect

  • CountryUnited States
  • RegionCalifornia
  • Sub-RegionNapa Valley
  • SoilVolcanic
  • BlendCabernet Sauvignon 77%, Merlot 23%
  • Alcohol15.2%
  • OakFrench Barrels, 75% New
  • Service Temp.60-65° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stem
  • DrinkNow-2030+
  • Decanting30 Minutes
  • PairingItalina Beef Braciole

  • CountryUnited States
  • RegionCalifornia
  • Sub-RegionNapa Valley
  • SoilVolcanic
  • BlendCabernet Sauvignon 77%, Merlot 23%
  • Alcohol15.2%
  • OakFrench Barrels, 75% New
  • Temp.Serve at 60-65° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2030+
  • Decanting30 Minutes
  • PairingItalina Beef Braciole