Robert Craig’s wines are known for pure site expression. Most Cabernet bottlings are appellation-specific: Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder, Spring Mountain, Diamond Mountain. The Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon is from Robin Williams’ Pym Rae vineyard. It’s an exceptional site, one of the highest on the mountain. The distinctive subsoil is run through with blue shale and an upper layer of shallow, sandy top soil sits above. Robert Craig consulted for Williams on vineyard development in 1990, and has received the majority of fruit from the property since. Today, the mature vines have driven their roots deep, drawing up minerals and nutrients. It’s a soil-driven quality that you can taste and feel in the wine.
The 2014 is the second-to-last vintage that will be produced in this vineyard. The Tesseron family of Château Pontet-Canet are now proprietors, and will not sell the fruit. (There must be something magical in that soil!) 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 (80% new, the remainder second use), and bottled unfined and unfiltered. This penultimate release will be one of the finest. The wine is dark and complex with mountain wildflower that complements the black, brooding fruit. This is a huge wine with lots of weight and power. It will continue to evolve in the cellar for decades to come, but the addition of a small quantity of Merlot (in combination with the balance and class of the vintage) will allow it to be enjoyed young too.
“The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder comes from a vineyard once owned by the late Robin Williams called Pym Rae (now owned by the Tesseron family from Bordeaux) that sits at an elevation of 1,800 feet. Blueberry, blackberry and cassis are all present in this full-bodied wine that displays the high-elevation bluer fruits that Mt. Veeder can provide. There is a floweriness and full-bodied richness, big extract, but great balance and no rusticity. This beauty should drink well for at least 25-30 years. 2016-2046.”
95 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Dec 2016
“Intense mountain tannins give the 2014 much of its personality. Smoke, cured meats, licorice and spices fill out the wine’s frame effortlessly. This is an especially huge, dramatic Cabernet Sauvignon, especially within the context of the year. A surge of black cherry, smoke and chocolate leaves a lasting impression. 2019-2029.”
93+ points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Dec 2016