Jayson Pahlmeyer was determined to bring a Mouton Rothschild experience to California. Armed with a financial backing that would make most winery’s blush, he started by buying a super expensive piece of land atop Atlas Peak, smuggled in Bordeaux clippings from some of their most prized estates, hired a superstar winemaker who worked at both Chateau Haut Brion and Au Bon Climat, and went to work. He achieved his goal… and then some.
In the 35 years since Pahlmeyer’s founding, it has skyrocketed into becoming Napa Valley royalty and then may have even set a new bar. Multiple 100-point wines, yearly inclusion in the “best wineries of the world” lists and a 40-under-40 tastemaker recognition for their winemaker and you can say that they’re in rarefied air.
Then you mix in the fact that the four sources for the winery’s fruit are their own gorgeous estate vineyard on Atlas Peak, Stagecoach vineyard atop Pritchard Hill, Antinori Family’s Antica and Rancho Chimiles, and you realize that these guys are playing with a stacked deck. Not surprisingly, they boast a multi-year wait just to join the waitlist and then charge an arm and a leg for bottles, because their wine is that good (and they’ve got a lot of superstars on the payroll).
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98 Points, James Suckling
Blackberries and wild berries on the nose with hints of incense and ink, following through to a full body with super integrated tannins and a long, linear finish. It’s structured, yet so polished and integrated, the tannins spreading beautifully across the palate. Caressing, like silk. This has a higher percentage of Stagecoach Vineyard. Drinkable now, but better in 2024 and onwards.
97+ Points, Jeb Dunnuck
The 2018 Red Blend Proprietary Red could easily be mistaken for a great vintage from Château Latour, at least aromatically. Blackcurrants, scorched earth, lead pencil shavings, and a gorgeous sense of minerality all develop in the glass, and it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a deep, concentrated mouthfeel, building tannins (and plenty of them), and a great finish. This brilliant, world-class Cabernet is going to benefit from 4-5 years or more of bottle age and have 30+ years of longevity. The blend is 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc, all brought up in 95% new French oak.
96+ Points, Parker’s Wine Advocate
The 2018 Proprietary Red is every bit as magnificent as it was from barrel, if not moreso. It’s just a great expression of the year. Rich and explosive, with tremendous depth, the 2018 possesses tremendous richness right out of the gate. Black cherry, plum, chocolate, new leather and spice soar out of the glass. The 2018 Proprietary Red is, sadly, the only wine Pahlmeyer will bottle in 2018, as fires were an issue at the estate vineyard on Atlas Peak.
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