2021 Snowden, Cabernet Sauvignon “The Ranch” Napa Valley.
I really loved this “The Ranch” Cabernet Sauvignon bottling from the hugely talented Diana Snowden-Seysses at Snowden, which is beautifully balanced, dark fruited and heavenly in length and unlike a high percentage of Napa wines, it is nicely restrained and moderate in natural alcohol. Coming from all sustainable and organic vines on on the Perlite, sandy soils of the Snowden property, this Cabernet also contains some Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, which adds to the complexity, texture, spice and aromatics, making for a very compelling wine. Fantastically layered with a full bodied, but not heavy, palate with graceful tannins, good acidity and a subtle touch of wood, The Ranch shows blackberry, dark currant, plum and cherry fruits, along with a hint of loam, cigar box, anise, acacia/lilac florals, graphite and mocha notes. The Snowden Family, who’s own wines began in 1993, have for over fifty years have been farming top quality Bordeaux red varietals, plus Sauvignon Blanc, on their eastern-sloped, Napa Valley ranch, which the winery says touches both the Rutherford and St. Helena appellations. The Snowden family ranch property itself was originally purchased back in the 1950s, but beginning in the 1990s, grapes from the property went some well known labels, including Silver Oak Wine Cellars, Frank Family Vineyard, David Ramey, who also helped out here with the winemaking, Viader, and Caymus Vineyards.

Diana Snowden-Seysses, the 3rd generation of the Snowden family, began running the cellar in 2005 with help from consulting winemaker Dave Ramey, but took the reins here solo, as winemaker in 2012 herself and the wines continue to impress. She’s got an awesome CV, having worked at Robert Mondavi Winery, Araujo, La Fleur de Bouard in Bordeaux and Domaine Leflaive in Puligny Montrachet, as well as having her hand in one of Burgundy’s greatest estates. Diana is also the oenologist and cellar master for the famed Domaine Dujac, where she lives part-time with husband Jeremey Seysses (managing director of Dujac) and their kids, talk about a power couple! She’s brought a new sense of grace and elegance to her latest Snowden wines, and I loved what she has achieved here in the 2021 vintage, with this lovely Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2021 The Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon was made using transparent methods, with the grapes picked by hand and fermented in separate lots, all 100% de-stemmed and cool macerated with fermentation done in stainless steel with native yeasts to promote purity and authentic character in the wine. After primary fermentation the wine is pressed to exclusively French oak barrels for an elevage of close to 19 months with a well judged combination of new and used wood, that especially here in the 2021 vintage feels almost perfect, with a touch of sweet smoke, vanilla and softened mouth feel, allow for just the right amount of luxuriousness to shine through. The 2021 vintage in Napa, like 2014, is my kind of year and I highly recommend stocking up on them, they are drinking great young, best to decant, but have the stuffing to aged too!
($70 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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