Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 23, 2018

2014 Forman Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley -photo grapelive

2014 Forman, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
Ric Forman’s 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is a big Napa Valley wine, but with the vintage’s fresher style, sharp detail and potential for extended cellar aging, it absolutely thrills from start to finish, making one of his best efforts in years, I like it much better than 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013 editions, somewhat a sleeper year overall I adore this one with its wonderful play between opulence and vibrant form. Mainstream media types have gone crazy for the ultra luxurious, fat chocolate style Cabs, especially loving the 2013 and 2015 vintages, and while Forman excelled in those years too, I still am much more excited by the complexity and inner energy found in the best 2014’s like those of Corison, Corra by Celia Welch, Chappellet and this Forman, ask me in 15 to 20 if I’m proved right, but I think they are more intriguing than the more heralded 2013’s, so we’ll see. Ric Forman credits Bordeaux as being the biggest influence on his wines and style, though you can’t hide, especially in the last decade the explosive ripe quality of Napa fruit, so the touch Forman has is even more impressive, as like his inspiration he crafts wines of elegance and unending layers with a sense of soul, life and restraint. Like the top cellars in Bordeaux, Forman uses the most advanced equipment while using traditional hand harvested fruit, that is cared for with gentle techniques, it is also quickly done, with the grapes processed within 30 minutes of picking. Ultra selection of berries on the clusters, with rigorous hand sorting, the fruit is gently de-stemmed in a French Delta de-stemmer and transported, intact whole berry, for fermentations in small 2-4 ton temperature controlled stainless steel fermentors. Cold primary and maceration lasts for 3-4 weeks to get all the extraction of color and complexity of the skins, while malos happen in the barrels and the wine is aged for almost years, with no pump racking periodically done and a light egg white fining being done, also a la Bordeaux. Forman’s blend usually comes out something like 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the rest being close to 5-6% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 5-6% Petit Verdot all coming off Ric’s own vines in Saint Helena, 100% off the estate owned and farmed Grande Roche Vineyard with the finished wine getting about 75% new oak. This 2014 flows with pretty perfume and delicate toasty sweetness on the nose with acacia flowers, vanilla, mocha and black fruits while the palate gains depth and feel with every sip, evolving into layers of blackberry, creme de cassis (currant cored), plum and cheery along with a touch of cedary wood, tobacco spiciness and hints of licorice, sage and unsweetened cocao, before a lengthy finish that reveals the oak in a graceful way along with an echo of the vanilla/mocha. After time in the glass you feel the expressive purity of fruit and the wine gains a sense of integration and class, while filling out and delivering a full bodied palate impact, this is worthy of it’s hype and reputation, and why Napa is a force in the wine world, excellent and finessed stuff.
($120 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive