2021 Chappellet, Cabernet Sauvignon “Donn Chappellet Signature” Napa Valley.
Chappellet, based on the famed Pitchard Hill and originally founded back in 1967, is one of Napa’s historic wineries with a gorgeous collection of distinctive wines, with this Signature Cabernet and the Pitchard Hill Cabernet Franc being favorites of mine, as well as their dry Chenin Blanc. This 2021 Donn Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon is deeply hued and displays a rich full bodied palate of blackberry, currant, plum and black cherry fruit, along with a smoky/toasty sweet kiss of cedary French oak, hints of cassis, wild sage, mocha, anise and pipe tobacco. The tannins are smooth, but obviously taut and youthful at this stage, but there is a fine lush mouthfeel and a rich finish to enjoy, especially when the wine has time to open up and with food. There’s a lot of intensity from the mountain fruit here, and as the winery notes, the dry, rocky soils of Pritchard Hill produce small, intensely flavorful grapes, and the climate sees cool nights, that add to the over all balance and elegance, as the 2021 shows. I recently tasted this 2021 against many Napa wines from 2020 and 2019, I would avoid the 2020 vintage for serious collecting, as the fires did give a ton of smoke taint, but both the 2019 and this 2021 are years to stock up on, with this wine showing a bit more restraint and energy, while the 2019s seem a touch softer and more luxurious, in my own experiences.

Chappellet’s current lineup is full of winners, including their Chenin Blanc, as I have mentioned the Chappellet old vine Chenin is a dry and dusty Savennieres style wine that thrills the Loire Valley fans and is one of the great wine geeks white of Napa Valley, but also this latest Donn Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, just released, which as noted above is a wonderful Napa Valley expression, pure and full bodied with a dazzling palate, right up there with wines twice the price, If you’ve not had Chappellet or not lately, you’ll want to sample this latest set as soon as possible. The final breakdown for the Signature Cabernet usually comes out to be around 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Merlot, with a small percentage Cab Franc and or Malbec a possibility as well. The founders, Donn and Molly Chappelllet, who convinced they could make First Growth quality reds, followed the advice of legendary winemaker André Tchelistcheff (BV) and settled on the rocky eastern slopes of the Napa Valley, in the spot that would become Pitchard Hill. The winery has also had some serious winemakers in the past with Phillip Togni and the great Cathy Corison help making the reputation at this property, and long time winemaker Phillip Corallo-Titus continues the tradition here. The Cab is a barrel selection of different parcels and lots that see separate fermentation(s) and blended later, with the wine getting anywhere fro 18 to 24 months in barrel, with this 2021 already showing great cellar potential.
($108 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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