If Spottswoode personifies Napa Cabernet's most graceful side, then Diamond Creek is surely the greatest ambassador for the darker, wilder side of the valley's mountain sites. The smoke, gravel, menthol, and blue fruits of Diamond Mountain are the stuff of legends, and Diamond Creek started it all. Today's offer is highlighted by a trifecta of the estate's 1986 vintage, one that was very strong on the valley floor, but truly exceptional in the mountains.

Al and Boots Brounstein were trailblazers in Napa Valley by everyone's standards. An all-time favorite inception story traces Al back to two First Growth Bordeaux estates where he shipped vine cuttings to Mexico, then flying them to Napa on his private plane. Avoiding the long quarantine process the US required for vine material he was able to plant his vineyard immediately. And became the first ever estate-bottled 100% Cabernet Sauvignon in California.

Initially, Al was worried the undeveloped Diamond Mountain would be too cool to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon sufficiently. But, touring the property with Napa icons, Louis Martini and Andre Tchelistcheff, he was convinced it was the variety to excel here. In 1968 he planted, and Diamond Creek's inaugural vintage followed in 1972. The wines of this era in the 70's and 80's, where alcohol levels were very modest (12.5% for the 1986's), sit at the pinnacle of the greatest California wine experiences I've been fortunate enough to share.

Red Rock Terrace is a steep 7-acre, north-facing vineyard composed of iron-rich red soil. It's always the most approachable of the estate's wines, with the softest tannin profile and a powerful, more dark red-fruited expression.

Volcanic Hill is a 8-acre, south-facing vineyard composed of gray volcanic ash, the remnants of 
 Mt. Konocti's eruption 8 million years ago. Volcanic Hill is regarded by many as the very most age-worthy of the trio. It contains a small amount of Petit Verdot, adding extra backbone and accentuating the site's smokey character. The warmest of the three vineyards.

Gravelly Meadow is a 5-acre, pre-historic riverbed composed of stony, alluvial and gravel soils. Always the closest in profile to the Pauillac wines of Bordeaux where this First Growth original vine material derives from. Classic Pauillac notes of graphite always stand out here. The coolest of the three vineyards.

The hunt for perfectly stored back-vintage bottles of Diamond Creek is always a top priority of mine. This is the first opportunity I've had to source multiple bottles of the trio in a single vintage. 1986 is one of the most successful vintages for mountain fruit over the last 40 years in Napa Valley. These should not be missed!

1986 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon
$227 per bottle.

1986 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon
$227 per bottle.

1986 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
$227 per bottle.

1993 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon
$152 per bottle.

1999 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon 1.5L
$399 per bottle.

2001 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon
$169 per bottle.

2001 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
$164 per bottle.