With the 2014 vintage, Continuum celebrated its 10th anniversary. With the 2015 vintage, this modern icon ventures into a new decade! A particularly vinous and tactile release, the 2015 is rich and deep, with complex character that beautifully expresses Continuum’s estate Sage Mountain vineyard. This mature 38 acre site sits on Pritchard Hill, in the eastern hills above Oakville. The west and south-facing slopes are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot.
The 2015 growing season brought with it extremely low yields, around half of the winery’s usual crop. This was the fourth year in a drought cycle with unseasonably warm weather and dry soils. The vines responded by breaking dormancy mid-February, when a cold snap hindered fruit set. In some ways, the vintage was a blessing in disguise: looser clusters allowed greater air flow and light which, along with warm weather through the growing season, led to consistent, steady ripening and phenolic development.
Though small in volume, it is a vintage with considerable impact. Hand-harvested estate fruit was brought to the winery in small bins, sorted, de-stemmed, then transferred by gravity to French oak and concrete tanks for fermentation by native yeast. The wine was matured in French oak barrels (68% new), then clarified slowly by settling and racking. It was bottled without fining or filtration.
Harmonious and expressive already, it is certainly age-worthy, ready to cellar for decades. This year, the wine comprises 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Cabernet Franc, 17% Petit Verdot, and 6% Merlot. The dark, rich core shows aromas of cacao, black currant, cardamom, and wild herbs. The palate is layered and supple, with black cherry and espresso and dried orange notes. Lush and ripe with seamless tannins and a vein of minerality, the finish is long and complex.
“This is sensational with blackberries, blueberries and mineral. Extremely floral, too. Full-bodied but so seamless and refined with polished tannins that just melts (sic) into the wine. Goes on for minutes. A subtle and glorious wine that will be a new classic for Napa Valley. An emotional red that touched your soul. Energy. 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Cabernet Franc, 17% Petit Verdot, and 6% Merlot. Very approachable now but better in 2022. “
100 points, JamesSuckling.com, May 2018
“Continuum has been a deeply intriguing project from the very beginning, but in recent years Tim and Marcia Mondavi, along with their family, have taken their wines into the realm of the elite. I was super-impressed with all the wines I tasted during my most recent visit. Specifically, the increased use of Cabernet Franc in the blends gives these wines an extra dimension of nuance that is breathtaking. Bottled just a few months ago, the 2015 Continuum is shaping up to be a real gem. The flavours are dark, bold and incisive. In 2015, poor weather during flowering took with it 50% of the production in Continuum’s prime Cabernet Sauvignon blocks. As a result, the 2015 has a high percentage (31%) of Cabernet Franc. Today, the Franc is keeping the wine a bit clenched, but that should be less of an issue as time passes.”
98+ points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, March 2018
“Once again, iconic vigneron Tim Mondavi has crafted an exceptionally well balanced Cabernet blend from his now-flourishing vines on his Pritchard Hill Estate property. This new 2015 release launches forth with alluring notes of mocha and currants with hints of savoury herbs and black truffles. The tantalizing finish features espresso and dark chocolate enveloped by prodigious tannins that show a purity that bodes well for aging through 2025 but don’t hesitate to pop a cork tonight (decanting recommended) for supreme enjoyment.”
98 points “Legendary”, California Wine Advisors, web