In the spring of 1965, grapegrower Tom May sold the first ever Cabernet Sauvignon plucked off Martha’s Vineyard in Oakville to Joe Heitz. The rest is a slice of Napa Valley history.
From that point on the Oakville vineyard and Heitz winery would both skyrocket to stardom, together becoming amongst the most famous names in American wine. Despite it not being estate fruit, Heitz’s work with the vineyard became so polarizing, it even became the first ever vineyard designate Cabernet Sauvignon in 1966.
Heitz was already a highly regarded winemaker from his decade long run at Beaulieu, before establishing his own winery in 1961. While at Beaulieu, he had gotten wind of this new site and quickly befriended the former school teacher who was just getting into grape growing. He taught May the tricks of the trade in exchange for fruit from May’s Martha Vineyard.
Martha’s Vineyard grapes are unique, importing a distinct chocolate flavor, incredible balance, and immense ageability. Heitz furthered that by deciding to bring in the Cabernet at its absolute ripest – leading to full, jammy Cabernet that yet age gracefully forever.
The partnership lasted until Joe died in 2000. However, the Heitz/May connection still lives on as Joe’s son, David took over all the winemaking duties and has helped catapult the vineyard and project back into the truly world class category.
In 2014, one of Napa’s greatest in the last three decades, it’s little wonder that Heitz’s Martha’s Vineyard was one of the best wines made in the world that year. Perfect 100 points from Wine Enthusiast and a 97 from Decanter who even went so far to say, “the 2014 vintage from this hallowed site is as good as it gets for Napa Valley Cabernet.”
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100 Points, Wine Enthusiast
From the famous Oakville site, this aged wine spends three years in 100% new French oak, one in neutral oak and an additional year in bottle. Though it has had time to evolve, it has years to go to unfurl its core of eucalyptus, mint and cedar. It shows an unmistakable crispness of red fruit, orange peel and stone, all honed by a grippy, generous palate. Enjoy 2024– 2034.
97 Points, Decanter
Martha’s Vineyard is one of the most famous vineyards in the US, and the 2014 vintage from this hallowed site is as good as it gets for Napa Valley Cabernet. At every turn it exudes class, structure and a definitive air. Aromatically it commands you to pay attention; the palate will give you no choice. A thunderous wine in every dimension, giving off its classic mint and eucalyptus notes with perfectly harnessed power. The finish is a showstopper in its length and persistence. Tasted across five days, it was constantly on the ascent for the first two and a half, and perfectly enjoyable on the fourth. A true work of art.
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