Realm Cellars is one of those Napa wineries that many folks have heard of, but not many have had the chance to taste. They’re mentioned all the time amongst the Napa elite, but their cult-like status has made securing wine from them an impossibility for me until a few weeks ago.
Somehow, after begging and pleading, I managed to secure us our first score ever from this hallowed ground.
Here, multi-100 point superstar winemaker Benoit Touquette crafts some of the greatest wines in the world. His flagship bottling ‘The Absurd’ goes for anywhere between $950-$1400/bottle in the 2021 vintage. Most of their other bottles go for anywhere from $350 upwards, with the exception of one “steal” — The Bard, a clear Saturday nighter from this iconic estate, but by far their most economical wine.
The Bard is comprised of more than 80% Cabernet Sauvignon from some of the most ridiculous sites in the world for Cab. I mean, just look at this list: Beckstoffer to Talon and Beckstoffer Bourn vineyards, plus Blair, Houyi, Farella, Larmeat, and Orchard as well as some of their own estate fruit. The sources for this ‘Napa Valley Red’ are out of control.
It’s an absolutely gorgeous wine, a bombshell beauty that has to be one of the very best wines made in the 2021 vintage. Decanter named it their #5 Wine of the Year and gave it a resounding 97-point review. In it, the writer said this was his favorite wine of the 86 Realm Cellars wines he had over two days, an absolutely insane admission that should excite those who are looking for something special to splurge on.
98 Points, Jeb Dunnuck
Lastly, the 2021 The Bard checks in as 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah. This beauty has a killer bouquet of cassis, spring flowers, graphite, chalky minerality, and violets. This carries to a full-bodied, seamless, silky, flawlessly balanced effort revealing fine tannins, a good sense of freshness, and a thrilling finish.
97 Points, (#5 Wine of the Year) Decanter
After sampling 86 wines over a two-day marathon with Realm Cellars co-owners Scott Becker and winemaker Benoit Touquette, I had no doubt that one would make my top 10 list of the year. It would be ‘The Bard’, which will be available beginning in 2024. It is a very giving wine that promises great rewards for long-term cellaring and is enjoyable three full nights in a row, never losing its zeal if having one great glass each night is your prerogative. Power and muscle frame the core of this towering red, with its red-toned fruits and rich, toasty oak spice nuance by bay Laurel and pastis. Full-bodied with tremendous decadence of chocolaty tannins that are pliant and billowy, lifted by supple blackberry and black raspberry fruit, a drizzle of cherry coulis, and resolving with refined tobacco, cedar wood spice, and laced with coriander and cumin aromatics. It has a satisfyingly rich finish. Number five of my top wines of 2023.
97 Points, The Wine Independent
A blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, and 1% Petite Sirah, the fruit for the 2021 The Bard comes from sites across the valley, including some estate fruit and some sourced fruit. Deep garnet-purple colored, it shoots from the glass with vibrant notions of crushed black currants, red currant jelly, black raspberries, and pencil shavings, giving way to notes of lilacs, dark chocolate, and a waft of spearmint. The full-bodied palate is firm with ripe, fine-grained tannins and a lively backbone framing the tightly wound red, black, and blue fruit flavors, finishing with great length and a real skip in its step.