Pride Mountain Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon MAGNUM
Pride Mountain Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon MAGNUM

Pride Mountain Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon MAGNUM

California, United States 2017 (1500mL)
Regular price$178.00
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Pride Mountain Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon MAGNUM

Two years ago, we had the great fortune of offering Pride Mountain’s 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, an iconic California label sold largely through the winery’s faithful mailing list. As such, our modest allocation was drained long before many of you had a chance to click “read more.” I hope those same people are paying attention today because we’re unveiling one of our longest-held secrets for part two of Magnum Monday: That same glorious 2017 bottling, except in large format. We’ve been squirreling this parcel away for so long that a quick search revealed we’re the last online retailers with access—in fact, Pride Mountain’s own website is “sold out!” 

When we first tasted this mind-melting red in 2020, it got us thinking about the infamous “Paris Tasting” of 1976. No, I wasn’t there, but I imagine this is exactly the kind of deep, soulful California Cabernet that outclassed France’s best all those years ago. Of all the things California does well, it does Cabernet Sauvignon best, and since their first commercial vintage in 1994, the Pride family has done it at the highest possible level. In the intervening years, masses of “culty,” painfully expensive labels have invaded the valley like kudzu, making the price of this iconic Cab seem quaint. So, in the spirit of the Paris Tasting, I’d like to place this bottle alongside the best fine wines in the world. If you’d like to make an exceptionally rare and savvy addition to your cellar—one that’ll age beautifully over the next quarter-century—here’s your chance to make off with up to three magnums

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. As such, the vine’s metabolism never shuts down; it’s a more even, overall 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 and then subsequently aging each separately for about six months before assembling a blend. In all, the wine spent 18 months in French oak barrels, 50% 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, fresh Cabernet that finishes with a violet-scented, volcanic-rock flourish. If enjoying a bottle now, decant it at least 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 magnum has 10-20 more years of positive evolution ahead of it, ready to be uncorked on special occasions in the future. This is a rare benchmark! Enjoy!

Pride Mountain Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon MAGNUM

United States


Columbia Valley

Like many Washington wines, the “Columbia Valley” indication only tells part of the story: Columbia Valley covers a huge swath of Central
Washington, within which are a wide array of smaller AVAs (appellations).


Willamette Valley

Oregon’s Willamette Valley has become an elite winegrowing zone in record time. Pioneering vintner David Lett, of The Eyrie Vineyard, planted the first Pinot Noir in the region in 1965, soon to be followed by a cadre of forward-thinking growers who (correctly) saw their wines as America’s answer to French
Burgundies. Today, the Willamette
Valley is indeed compared favorably to Burgundy, Pinot Noir’s spiritual home. And while Pinot Noir accounts for 64% of Oregon’s vineyard plantings, there are cool-climate whites that must not be missed.


Santa Barbara

Among the unique features of Santa Barbara County appellations like Ballard Canyon (a sub-zone of the Santa Ynez Valley AVA), is that it has a cool, Pacific-influenced climate juxtaposed with the intense luminosity of a southerly
latitude (the 34th parallel). Ballard Canyon has a more north-south orientation compared to most Santa Barbara AVAs, with soils of sandy
clay/loam and limestone.


Paso Robles

Situated at an elevation of 1,600 feet, it is rooted in soils of sandy loam and falls within the Highlands District of the Paso Robles AVA.

New York

North Fork

Wine growers and producers on Long Island’s North Fork have traditionally compared their terroir to that of Bordeaux and have focused on French varieties such as Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

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