Vine Hill Ranch is a truly iconic Cabernet: a modern cult wine, an estate-grown wine with a real sense of place, the culmination of the Phillips family’s evolution from grapegrowing to winemaking over three generations. They’ve earned a real understanding of terroir through years of traversing the vineyard rows and tending the seven blocks by hand.
Winemaker Françoise Peschon’s approach to winemaking is to proceed with a minimal, gentle touch. Harvested in late September at optimal ripeness, grapes are hand-sorted, cold-soaked, and fermented by native yeast by vineyard lot. Following extended maceration, the wine ages in new French oak for eight months before it is blended and returned to barrel for one year prior to release. Strikingly perfumed, intense yet lifted, it showcases the elegance, balance, and maturity of fruit from this unique benchland vineyard in southwestern Oakville. Lifted by a vein of minerality and bright acidity, the opulent palate imparts a complexity and lasting purity through a remarkably long finish.
“Proprietors Bruce and Heather Phillips, along with their team led by winemaker Françoise Peschon and vineyard manager Mike Wolf, are making some of the most compelling wines in Napa Valley. The 2016 is a majestic, regal wine that captures the essence of this great Napa Valley vintage. I was perhaps even more impressed with the 2017, which is one of my favorite wines of the vintage so far. As it turns out, I happened to visit the Vine Hill Ranch on the last day of harvest for the estate wine, September 23 (some clients picked later), and tasted the separate lots in fermentation then this past spring and fall. The 2017 here has never been anything less than showy in the very best sense of the word. These days, VHR is at the top of the pack in Napa Valley. And, I have written here before, the wines VHR makes but that do not make it into their final blend, are better than those wines other properties do bottle! Tasted from a core blend, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is shaping up to be one of the wines of the vintage. Pliant, supple and beautifully radiant, the 2017 has so much to offer. Silky tannins and plush, racy fruit are two of the many signatures in this exceptionally polished, sensual wine. The 2017 is an unbelievably beautiful, sensual Cabernet with tons of potential.”
(94-97) points, Antonio Galloni. vinous.com, Dec 2018