Scribe, “Atlas West” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Scribe, “Atlas West” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Scribe, “Atlas West” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

California / Napa Valley, United States 2019 (750mL)
Regular price$85.00
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Scribe, “Atlas West” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The Scribe Winery is just minutes from SommSelect offices, and co-proprietor Andrew Mariani is a friend, but still, this is the first time we’ve managed to get our hands on enough Scribe to share with subscribers.

I’m still shocked, to be honest, for two reasons: (1) production of this mountain-grown 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon was characteristically small; (2) Scribe has such an ardent fan base that most every wine they make is scooped up almost immediately by their wine club members and select restaurants. We’re extra thrilled to land some “Atlas West” Cabernet, not just because it displays a level of energy and minerality reminiscent of the “Paris Tasting” era of Napa Cabernet, but because, at just $85, it is a steal of epic proportions. Most of the Napa Cabernet you’ll encounter at this price point is luxurious and impressive, sure, but how many make you want to have a second or third glass? For us, very few. This is one of those few. You can’t afford to miss it.  

Andrew Mariani and his brother, Adam, founded Scribe in 2007, acquiring a former turkey farm right near the Napa/Sonoma County line. Hailing from Winters, CA, the brothers grew up around agriculture and both spent considerable time apprenticing at wineries before returning to California—Andrew at a small farm in Greece, Adam in the Northern Rhône (at Guigal, no less) and South Africa. They began producing estate-grown wines in 2011 but have also continued to source fruit from other growers for bottlings like today’s. The Scribe property, which includes a hacienda-style building dating to 1858, was once farmed by German immigrants named Dresel, who brought some of the first Riesling and Sylvaner vines to California (Scribe’s labels include a small logo that says “D&Co,” as an homage to the pre-Prohibition wine history of the farm.

“Atlas West” is short for the west side of Atlas Peak—an eight-acre vineyard that sits above the fog line at 1,600 feet (allowing for a long, even growing season devoid of significant temperature spikes). The soils are from the “Hambright” and “Guenoc” series and are dominated by red volcanic material with lots of rock. Grapes for this wine were fully destemmed and fermented on ambient yeasts in open-topped stainless steel fermenters. Aging was for 20 months in 30% new French oak barriques.

There’s a palpable minerality in this ’19 that speaks to its high-elevation mountain origins. In the glass, it displays a classic Napa Cabernet ruby-purple core moving to magenta at the rim, with aromas and flavors of cassis, black raspberry, black currant, cacao, cigar box, cedar, and graphite. It is full-bodied but also taut and lifted, its oak component already well-integrated and its alcohol relatively modest. 

Not only is it delicious now, it will age—five years at a minimum but probably much longer. If consuming a bottle in the short term, decant it about 30 minutes before serving at 60-65 degrees and don’t worry if you don’t get through the whole thing in one sitting; day two may well be even more satisfying! Unlike so many over-extracted Napa Cabernets, which tend to overpower food with their sweetness, this one is an optimal choice for the dinner table. Try it with a hanger steak—an underrated cut known for its deep, gamey flavor—and don’t drain your bottle too quickly. Enjoy!

Scribe, “Atlas West” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

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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