11 Outstanding Reds From Famed Napa Winemakers

That Won’t Break the Bank

Accendo Cellars 2018 Laurea Napa Valley

Flagship Wine: Accendo Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, $365, 100 points for the 2018 from Antonio Galloni at Vinous.

When the Araujo family sold their legendary Eisele Vineyard, they very deliberately shifted from the single-vineyard model to multi-vineyard blending for their new brand, Accendo Cellars.

The 2018 Laurea is the first vintage of the “second” wine they created, to benefit from the great fruit from their great vineyard sources that didn’t make the cut in their rigorous blending sessions for Accendo.

But, says winemaker Françoise Peschon, Laurea is not a repository for everything left on the cutting room floor.

Adaptation 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

New from The PlumpJack Collection of Wineries (which includes, besides PlumpJack, CADE and Odette Estates and whose owners include billionaire Gordon Getty and California Governor Gavin Newsom), Adaptation comes from winemaker Jeff Owens, whose very first release of Odette garnered 100 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

And all of the above connections yield fruit from vineyards around the valley that rarely makes its way into wines at this price.

Beaulieu Vineyard 2018 Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Historic BV—known for its iconic Georges de Latour and legendary enologist André Tchelistcheff, widely considered the father of modern California winemaking—hadn’t released a new wine since 1990, until now.

This inaugural vintage of Rutherford Reserve opens exactly as it should, with telltale notes of that powdery loam that Tchelistcheff dubbed “Rutherford dust.” Violets, blackberry and cocoa are faintly spiced with anise and cloves, leading into appealing cassis and black raspberry flavors on a smooth, generous palate balanced by a savory mineral character and pleasantly grippy tannins.

Blueprint 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, from Lail Vineyards

The 2019 Blueprint from Lail Vineyards, in the hands of winemakers Philippe Melka and Maayan Koschitzky, is a rich, inky, generous beauty, ready to sip (or maybe gulp) right now.

Fresh-turned loam opens, delicately layered with rose petal, cedar, graphite, espresso, blackberry and cardamom aromas.

The palate is all about plush fruit—mulberry liqueur—tempered by savory crushed herbs and dark chocolate. Ripe tannins carry into a lingering finish.

Double Diamond 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville, Napa Valley

This terrific-value, mouth-filling Cab comes courtesy of winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown, who in 19 years of crafting wine for Fred Schrader, has earned the brand 27 perfect 100-point scores.

The 2018 Double Diamond opens with a little leather and graphite under lovely violet scents, mingling with dark chocolate, warm spice and underlying minerality.

Appealingly dense and concentrated boysenberry liqueur flows across the palate, with chalky tannins that build into a finish that goes out with a tiny kick of orange.

Immortal Estate 2016 Slope Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County

Little sister to Immortal’s Impassable Mountain, Slope is 100 percent from the Immortal Estate Vineyard, high on the Mayacamas Range just west of the Napa border in Sonoma.

The source has its privileges, like the seven different (hand) picks over the course of two weeks that the signature wine received.

The 2016 Slope opens with classic cassis notes joined by graphite, savory herbs and spices, and hints of sage and forest.

There’s an awful lot to love on the palate, with juicy, briary berry fruit—red, blue and black—layered over toasted spice and mocha, with impressive length.

Jayson 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

This little sister to Jayson Pahlmeyer’s proprietary Bordeaux blend—made of 91 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 6 percent Cabernet Franc and 3 percent Merlot—delivers power and pleasure together, from super-saturated color to generous, juicy fruit.

Dark fruit and crushed rock open on the nose, layered with pencil shavings, pine notes and a little licorice.

Plush and vibrant black raspberry flavors are backed by plenty of structure,and extended through a long, pretty finish.

Lyndenhurst 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

With fruit sourced both from Spottswoode Estate Vineyard as well as through grower relationships throughout the valley, Lyndenhurst shares Spottswoode quality and takes a broader, regional view at the same time.

The 2018 opens with compelling, earthy aromas under cassis, blackberry, North African spices and hints of rose petal and cedar.

The palate manages to be bright and concentrated at the same time, adding raspberry into the mix, with a firm but elegant tannin structure.

Overture Napa Valley

Created all the way back in 1993, this “second” to Opus One is unique in that it’s a multi-vintage blend from the estate vineyard.

Including all five Bordeaux varieties, its mix evolves based on lots selected for Opus One itself. The current Overture is a bright-fruited sip, frag

Post & Beam 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

This entry-level Cabernet from Far Niente is an elegant sipper for the price.

A fragrant layering of raspberry, mocha and gravelly minerality opens, with haunting herbs and spices. Incredibly juicy black raspberry, black cherry and cassis flavors pop on the palate, with crushed herbs and floral notes adding complexity.

S by Ray Signorello 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

This first vintage of S comes from Ray Signorello and winemaker Priyanka French, under a portfolio Ray has launched apart from Signorello Estate, which he and his father founded together.

Beautiful floral notes open over crushed rock, blackberry, graphite, resiny herbs and forest, including fresh cedar and mint. Vibrant berry and cherry fruit pops on a palate that’s not afraid to show a savory side.

This crowd-pleaser balances great acidity with generosity.

Sara L. Schneider

A wine, food, and general lifestyle editor and writer of 25 years

A wine, food, and general lifestyle editor and writer of 25 years, Schneider serves as Robb Report’s consulting wine and spirits editor, on the road often in search of the best whites and reds in the world’s great wine regions.

Previously, Schneider was Sunset Magazine’s wine editor.

She has judged many wine competitions herself, both in the states and internationally.

She has been nominated for multiple James Beard and IACP journalism awards and holds the Academy of Wine Communication’s Certificate for Excellence in Wine Writing.

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