Robert Craig’s wines are known for pure site expression. Most Cabernet bottlings are appellation-specific: Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder, Spring Mountain, Diamond Mountain. Affinity is a 100% estate-grown single vineyard bottling. Craig’s estate vineyard is the La Londe property, in the Mount George foothills just south of Stags Leap District, in the southern end of the Vaca Mountain range. The 30-year-old vines, planted in remarkably sparse and rocky volcanic soil on the benchland, are naturally low-yielding. They bear only 2.8 tonnes of intense fruit per acre.
In 2014, Mother Nature pulled a trifecta: another great vintage in Napa, it easily equalled 2012 and 2013 in terms of quality. The season saw no major heat spikes and minimal threat of rain during harvest. Fruit ripened early – it was harvested at modest sugar levels and excellent acidity, with excellent colour and tannin concentration. The best of all worlds, a classic vintage.
At the winery, handling is gentle and intervention is minimal. Fruit was fermented in small lots by indigenous yeast, matured 18 months in French oak (60% new, the remainder second use), and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The 2014 certainly reveals the pure pedigree of the La Londe vineyard. This is a wine with great depth, richness, and balance: opulent flavours of black raspberry and blackcurrant are introduced by aromas of licorice, incense, and spice box. It’s an alluring glimpse at what’s to come; the wine will unwind a bit over a decade, at least.
“Aromas of ripe fruit, walnuts and dark chocolate with some cloves. Full body, chewy tannins and a extracted finish. Lots of phenolic character. A little old school in style this year, but it shows promise. Better in 2020.”
93 points, JamesSuckling.com, Jan 2017
“80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and the rest Petite Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Delicious black raspberry and blackcurrant fruit, some spice box, licorice and incense are all present in this supple-textured, medium to full-bodied, opulent wine, which is sexy, lush and ideal for drinking over the next decade or more. The colour is a healthy dense purple, and the wine full-bodied and textured, with a beautiful finish and real harmony. Drink it over the next decade.”
92 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Dec 2016
“A superb entry-level offering, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Affinity exudes depth and richness, with plenty of energy to back it up. The tannins could benefit from another year or two in bottle to soften, but this is very nicely done. Dollops of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc add aromatic nuance and complexity throughout. Far from an easygoing wine, as it has been positioned in the past, the 2014 offers plenty of depth with the structure to back it up.”
91 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Dec 2016