2016 Sullivan Vineyards, Estate Red “Coeur de Vigne” Rutherford, Napa Valley.
One of the most highly acclaimed vintages in recent memory and showing exactly what you’d expect from a top estate in Napa, the 2016 Sullivan Vineyards Coeur de Vigne is a rich and concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon led red blend that delivers a full bodied palate of black raspberry, plum, kirsch, mocha and creme e cassis in a wine with a supple underlying ripe tannic structure and displaying pretty floral, sweet oak and anise accents along with a little bite on the finish. This was the first time in many years, if not decades, of sampling the wines of Sullivan Vineyards and even though it is quite oak driven, I was happily impressed and enjoyed it for its sense of place and the added complexity of the blend its self which features a good dose of Cab Franc that shows up perfectly in the profile, with flashes of elements that reminds me somewhat of Dalla Valle’s legendary Maya, which is high praise for me. In most vintages they would usually be more Cabernet Sauvignon in the final blend, but I really like the dimension and nuance of this version and I don’t think it gives up anything in the overall quality here. I think to get the best here, you’ll want to enjoy this Sullivan Coeur de Vigne Red with a meaty meal, it will perform well with a prime-rib and or herb crusted rack of lamb.

The Coeur de Vigne, heart of the vine, is a beautiful Bordeaux blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, and 2% Petite Verdot all grown on the highly regarded Sullivan Estate in the Rutherford AVA of Napa Valley, grown on the “Rutherford Dust” and gravelly loams on the famous bench between Oakville and St. Helena, where Cabernet is king for obvious reasons, it is one of the greatest spots on earth for this varietal, producing a very distinctive style, maybe Napa Valley’s version of Margaux. Heros of historic Napa Valley winemaking, namely Captain Niebaum (Inglenook) and Georges de Latour (BV), landed in Rutherford in the late 1800’s and turned this farming region into the center of America’s elite wines. The Sullivan Vineyards was purchased from the famous Galleron family by James O’Neil Sullivan, a visionary who with the encouragement of friend and legendary winemaker André Tchelistchef, also of BV fame, planted Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines. These, plus the other Bordeaux varietals were planted in gravelly-sandy loams here that was the historic divide between the two original land grants that made up the old Napa Valley. Sullivan follows modern trends now with ripe grapes and lots of toasty new French oak, making for a wine of more immediate pleasure and chocolatey soft tannins, but there is nothing to be disappointed with here, drink over the next 3 to 5 years.
($90 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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