Viticulture, the driving force of quality in wine, is pursued without compromise in Ric Forman’s vineyards. His goal is to fully capture the best of his Saint Helena site’s terroir, and he put in the time, care, and attention to detail to make that happen. In the winery, Ric draws out the identity of each vineyard parcel by using equipment specifically designed for small-lot production. You can rest assured that in a survey of Napa Cabernet, Forman will highlight the best of a vintage.
Ric’s vineyards, founded in 1979, cover 28.5 acres in Saint Helena and 60 acres on the Rutherford Bench. The Saint Helena vineyards near the winery are divided into three parcels, each planted to the four Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. You’ll find a different soil type in each parcel. The enclosed vineyard below the winery is rooted in deep deposits of gravel and sand. The steeply-sloped plot directly above the winery is composed of hard volcanic rock (so impermeable that dynamite was used extensively to shatter the rock before planting). Further up the mountain sits a parcel made of pink gravel underlain with grey volcanic ash. These locations each contribute subtle differences to the wine. The vineyards are managed meticulously by hand – each vine is tended to no less than 16 times in a growing season.
Hand-harvested fruit from these parcels was processed within 30 minutes of picking: bunches were hand-sorted and gently de-stemmed, then transported (berries intact) to small temperature-controlled stainless steel fermenters. Following fermentation, the final blend of four varietals is decided. The wine was transferred to new French oak barrels as malolactic fermentation began, then cellared in caves ten floors below the fermenting cellars. In the deep, cool cellars, the wines literally age in the soils from which they grew. Over the course of 20 months, depending on the vintage, the wine was periodically racked, always barrel to barrel using air pressure. The finished wines were minimally fined.
“The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is a absolute knockout from Ric Forman in this vintage. The blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot and 7% Merlot opens to gorgeous aromas of ripe dark fruits woven together spring florals, spices and hints of anise all coming together. On the palate this is beautifully structured with remarkable overall balance and precision. This continues to impress all they way though the finish with its wonderful elegance and purity. A simply brilliant wine which will certainly evolve gracefully for many years. (Best 2022-2035)”
96 points, International Wine Report, Nov 2017
“A weightless, translucent wine, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon exudes class. Vibrant and finely sculpted, the 2014 possesses striking nuance from start to finish. Scents of lavender, rose petal, mint and sweet spice notes give the 2014 its brightness and sense of energy. Today, the 2014 is a bit compact relative to how it showed from barrel. I expect the wine will put on a bit more weight during its aging. Readers should plan on cellaring the 2014 at least a few years. Even today, though, the 2014 is a very pretty and pure wine. 2020 – 2039.”
95+ points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Dec 2016
“The softer, more sexy and up-front style of the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon makes it already drinking and appealing. Deep ruby/purple, with notes of black and red currants, cedar, licorice and forest, the wine has terrific fruit, medium to full body, ripe, well-integrated tannins and adequate acidity. Drink it over the next 15 or so years.”
93+ points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2016