• Turning Back the Clock: 2015 Di Costanzo Farell Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

    Turning Back the Clock: 2015 Di Costanzo Farell Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

    "Rich, sumptuous and explosive, the 2015 possesses terrific density from start to finish. Even with all of its intensity, the 2015 still captures plenty of the Farella signatures, namely graphite, gravel and savory-infused overtones galore...Massimo di Costanzo remains one of Napa Valley's most promising young producers "
    - Antonio Galloni of Vinous (3/18)

    New California Wine, as was appropriately dubbed by Jon Bonné in his excellent book, has brought to the forefront so many talented winemakers throughout the state who are working to express terroir through more minimal intervention and a scrupulous eye on balance. While so many exciting projects are coming from every corner of the state, Napa Valley as a region has been more tied to its recent history of bombastic wines than others. Today, there's no project more dynamic than what Massimo Di Costanzo is producing from the Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Coombville's Farella Vineyard.

    I'm very happy to offer Di Costanzo's new 2015 Farella Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, complete with special pricing on a very rare vertical 4-Pack covering 2012-2015.

    Di Costanzo's Cabernet Sauvignon captures everything that's so thrilling about the variety when coming at it from a very sensitive and thoughtful approach. It's at once dark and savory with smoke, graphite, and scorched earth notes reminiscent of the volcanic ash scattered throughout the vineyard. And, at the same time the wine is supremely elegant and speaks to Massimo's travels throughout the world working with the tannic variety and getting accustomed to taming its burly predisposition.

    Coombsville is perhaps the coolest AVA within all of Napa, thanks to moderating influences from the nearby San Pablo Bay. Before launching his label Massimo spent years working with the Farella winery getting intimately familiar with the nuances of the red gravel-dominant vineyard. 


    After receiving his Enology and Viticulture degrees from UC Davis in 2002, Massimo worked with wineries in Tuscany (Tignanello), Stellenbosch, Mendoza, ending at Ovidand then Screaming Eagle in Napa working as the winemaker alongside Andy Erickson. Massimo's extensive familiarity with old-school Napa Valley has greatly shaped his approach to production. It's these wines from the 1960's and 1970's that are the ultimate inspiration for what's being achieved today from this epic Coombsville site.

    2015 Di Costanzo Farella Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
    $95 per bottle.

    Special E-mail Vertical 4-Pack: $379 (Regularly $410)
    One bottle of each: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

    2014 Di Costanzo Farella Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
    $105 per bottle.

    2013 Di Costanzo Farella Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
    $105 per bottle.

    2012 Di Costanzo Farella Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
    $105 per bottle.
    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Return to Diamond Mountain: Back-Vintage Diamond Creek Spectacular

    Return to Diamond Mountain: Back-Vintage Diamond Creek Spectacular

    January's special offer on 1986 Diamond Creek sold out in a flash. Today, I'm very happy to offer a brand new parcel from Diamond Mountain's iconic estate. Featured are standout vintages with a strong focus on my personal favorite bottling, Gravelly Meadow. The highlight of the list may very well be the 1978 Gravelly Meadow, but some may see the rarely produced "Lake" bottling from 1996 as the standout.Wherever your preferences may lie, one thing is certain, these wines are in peak form today.


    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.

    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.

    "Lake" is a .75 acre vineyard at the estate's coolest microclimate, located adjacent to the small lake on the property. This is only produced in the most ideal vintages for the site. In all, there have been 16 vintages produced since 1972.

    The hunt for perfectly stored back-vintage bottles of Diamond Creek is always a top priority of mine. This is a rare collection that covers so many terrific vintages and offers prime drinking now. These should not be missed!


    3x 1978 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon
    $899 per bottle.

    1x 1982 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon
    $264 per bottle.

    1x 1983 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon
    $229 per bottle.

    2x 1985 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon
    $269 per bottle.

    1x 1986 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon
    $269 per bottle.

    6x 1986 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon
    $199 per bottle.

    5x 1986 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
    $199 per bottle.

    2x 1987 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
    $199 per bottle.

    3x 1988 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
    $199 per bottle.

    2x 1990 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
    $199 per bottle.

    2x 1991 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
    $189 per bottle.

    2x 1991 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
    $229 per bottle.

    1x 1996 Diamond Creek Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
    $749 per bottle.

    1x 1999 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon 1.5L
    $399 per bottle.

    1x 2001 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
    $164 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Rutherford Bench Whisperer: Cathy Corison's Napa Cabernet Sauvignons

    Rutherford Bench Whisperer: Cathy Corison's Napa Cabernet Sauvignons

    "One of the things that is so remarkable about Cathy Corison’s cabernets is how cool and classic they are in profile, harkening back stylistically to the great Rutherford Bench wines made on the valley floor in the 1960s and 1970s, when so many other winemakers in Napa will tell you today that it is simply not possible in an era of global warming to make wines in that style anymore! "

    - John Gilman, View from the Cellar (05/17)

    When asked to name favorite Napa Caberenet Sauvignon my mind goes two places instantly: Cathy Corison in the valley and Philip Togni on the mountain. Not to take anything away from the brilliant wines produced elsewhere in Napa, but these two icons simply sit at a different table, as I see things. If Togni is famous for his rugged and dark fruit-inflected Spring Mountain wines, then Cathy Corison is the standard bearer for Napa's most restrained and finessed style. 

    Terroir-driven Napa Cabernet has become a bit of a selling point over the last decade, but Cathy Corison has been on this path since she founded her winery in 1987. Or course, the real story of Corison began many years before. After graduating from UC Davis with a Masters degree in Enology, Cathy began working in 1978 at Freemark Abbey and then was the winemaker at Chappellet throughout the 80's. As stylistic tides shifted in Napa she was resolute in telling her own story, one emphasizing a sense of place without aritifice. And so, Corison was born, sourcing grapes from the famed 7-mile long, 2-mile wide Rutherford Bench, located just west of Highway 29.

    The Corison Cabernets always strike me for their more ethereal, yet concentrated, elements of black cherry, violets, cigar box, and graphite. The surprising feature in how these wines are characterized vs. Napa neighbors is they age beautifully despite being lauded for their "grace" and "elegance". Today, bottles from the early 90's are still totally fresh and vibrant.

    The Corison Napa Valley designate bottling is sourced from vineyards that span that Rutherford Bench. The Kronos Vineyard comes from Kathy's home winery in Saint Helena, old vines planted on that famed phyloxera resistant St. George rootstock. The Kronos bottling may not be dubbed "Cult California" like some of the behemoth 100-pointers, but it is still among the rarest and, as far as I'm concerned, one of the very greatest wines of California.

    2014 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 
    $99 per bottle.

    2013 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 
    $99 per bottle.

    2010 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 
    $119 per bottle.

    2003 Corison Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 
    $176 per bottle.

    2002 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1.5L
    $369 per bottle.

    2001 Corison Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 
    $247 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Napa & Alexander Valley Cellar Sleepers: Back-Vintage Silver Oak

    Napa & Alexander Valley Cellar Sleepers: Back-Vintage Silver Oak

    In many ways Silver Oak has been a poster child for the American steak house expense account wine. While the young California Cabernet Sauvignons that dominate these wine lists are generally not my cup of tea, there's no denying the ideal fit that comes with the duo - the robust tannins of Cabernet melding with the fat of steak, giving a seamless and silky textural sensation. If you're going to drink your Cabernet young, a bone-in rib-eye is an appropriate place to start.

    However, outside of this classic pairing I find much more pleasure when these wines have significant bottle age. Finding the perfect address in Napa and Sonoma to bring the ultimate reward at 30+ years of age is no easy feat. But, Silver Oak's reliance on lower alcohol wines have given them a long-documented track record of graceful aging. Today's offer going back to 1978 personifies the lower alcohol wines of times past that bring an unshakable ethereal conviction, along with a hefty dose of nostalgia.  

    Silver Oak's use of American oak barrels is what separates the style first and foremost from their Napa neighbors who've overwhelmingly chosen French wood. The wider-grained American oak is famous for its sweet vanillin, coconut, and dill notes that are imparted. However, much like in traditional Rioja when these resulting wines are given decades to evolve, flavors minimize and merge with the transformed wine. 

    Silver Oak has long prided itself on sticking to modest levels of ripeness, even as the tide began to shift in Napa toward the bombastic. Raymond Twomey Duncan and Justin Meyer started in 1972 with just 1,100 cases. Based on a handshake and an eye toward 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged solely in American oak the duo built their label into iconic status.

    Today, the wines are still top selections on steakhouses throughout the country, but for me it's these bottles that have seen decades of slow evolution in dark cellars that really bring out the magic.

    There's always a bright, ethereal nature to aged Cabernet Sauvignon that's such a wild departure from what we see in young examples. So many producers now shy away from letting the variety's's natural herbal qualities shine. When these eucalyptus and thyme notes are given years to integrate with the black cherry and cigar box qualities the results capture the most enchanting elements of Napa and Alexander Valley.

    The Napa Valley designate wines usually show about half a degree greater alcohol compared to the slightly cooler-climate Alexander Valley. For example, the 1982 Napa Valley available today is listed at 13.4% vs. the 12.9% of the Alexander Valley.

    1977 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 
    $299 per bottle.

    1978 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 
    $299 per bottle.

    1982 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
    $149 per bottle.

    1982 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 
    $149 per bottle.

    1985 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1.5L
    $439 per bottle.

    1986 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 
    $144 per bottle.

    1987 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 
    $149 per bottle.

    1988 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 
    $134 per bottle.

    1991 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
    $149 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Perfect Storm on Diamond Mountain: 1986 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Trio

    Perfect Storm on Diamond Mountain: 1986 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Trio

    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.

    Posted by Max Kogod