This one comes from a very special ring of vineyards, just above the fog line, high atop Howell Mountain where many of Napa’s most sought-after grapes are grown. Their estate bottlings are synonymous with $200+ price tags, yet collectors scramble to gobble them up: CADE, Randy Dunn, Lokoya, Cimarossa, and Nicholas fan favorite – Bob Foley.
And it was from here that Ry Richards was able to once again craft a tiny lot of just 4 barrels of out-of-this-world Cabernet from what appears to be an epic 2021 vintage.
The spring of 2021 was warm, full of sunny skies, but with barely a drop of rain. Not since the mid-70’s had the spring been that dry. Due to these drought conditions, the fruit set was paltry, but the small berry clusters were so fabulously concentrated. The challenge facing growers came from Nature’s summer heat lamp. If the fall continued to be equally hot, there would be desiccation and all bets were off. Then, as if on cue, in early fall the weather turned cool, and stayed that way until the fruit was picked, accounting for glorious conditions.
Not surprisingly, the mountain AVAs in particular were most privileged as it related to concentration. Poor soils with limited water reserves drove plantings to the brink, and the call to harvest came early. Almost uniformly, the wineries with holdings in the most coveted mountain sub-regions from Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder and Pritchard Hill turned out absolutely gorgeous deep, dark, powerful wines infused with dark fruited cores and sumptuous tannins.
Surprisingly approachable out of the gates, these Cabernets are built for the long haul, with drinking windows from now (only for the sheer hedonism of the vintage) thru 2040.
Qualitatively, 2021, almost uniformly, is one of the finest vintages I’ve tasted from the last decade out of Napa Valley. Unfortunately, quantity, due to the drought conditions, was 30-40% down from the norm, putting even more upward pressure on bottle prices. But still, because this is a Fiancetto deal and Ry Richards, we’re able to beat pretty much all of the other guys with this one today.