2019 Accendo Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
The Araujo family’s comeback to the ultra prestigious top end of Napa wine is complete with their new Accendo Cellars label and this 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, which I was fortunate enough to get to sample recently, bringing back memories of the1990s Cult Cabernets of which the Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard featured heavily along with the likes of Dalla Valle, Harlan, Screaming Eagle and Bryant! This lush, deep and beautifully detailed 2019 Accendo Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from a few selected vineyards, including some family owned vines, within the prime Napa Valley sweet spots, shows off an opaque purple/garnet color in the glass and a dense layering of black currant, blackberry, plum, blueberry and black cherry fruits that is accented with toasty sandalwood, vanilla, creme de cassis, dark chocolate, minty menthol, anise, sweet tobacco leaf, liquid violets along with a hint of pencil lead and dusty loam. There’s a powerful sense of structure, but the tannin is ripe and opulent, the texture is luxurious, very much in keeping with the vintage, but you can sense a bit of grip, which should allow for a good long life here and there is a touch of restraint here that keeps it from being syrupy or dulled by the oak. Accendo Cellars is led by Jaime Araujo and Greg Araujo daughter and son of founders Daphne and Bart Araujo, who grew up in the business, along with longtime winemaker Françoise Peschon, who’s been with the Araujo’s since 1993 and who brings a legendary amount of experience and talent to the Accendo project. Peschon’s thirty-year career, including stints at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Araujo Estate Wines, Viader Vineyards and Vine Hill Ranch, as well as Bordeaux’s Haut-Brion, has been hugely successful, as witnessed by the SF Chronicle naming her “Winemaker of the Year” recently and her resume of great wines. Peschon and team used grapes sourced from Vine Hill Ranch, Sleeping Lady, Eco Tone and a site on Diamond Mountain formerly known as Reverie, all elite sustainable vineyards.

Back in 2013, Bart and Daphne Araujo sold their historic Araujo Estate and Eisele Vineyard in Calistoga to First Growth Bordeaux Chateau Latour’s owner, who have carried on the tradition of excellence with their Eisele Estate label with plans to create a new adventure called Accendo Cellars, which run by the Araujo’s next generation. Accendo is committed to producing a top level Cabernet, in the mold of the mentioned original cult lineage that started in the early 1990s with, as they say, an ‘uber’ blend of Napa Valley fruit, sourced from estate vineyards, along with exceptional vineyard sites owned by close family friends. The style of these wines, they continue is modeled after the famous blends from the mid-20th century Napa Valley, maybe inspired by the legendary Inglenook and then Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve bottlings, as well as the later the Mondavi Reserves, where diversity of the Valley’s terroir is harmonized by the winemaker into an outstanding bottle of wine. The Araujo’s say the wine, a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot, was fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged close to 24 months sur lie in new and used French oak barrels to promote the quality of their Cabernet. The Araujo’s own vineyards are located in Oakville and St. Helena forth core for the Accendo Cellars, with other elite grapes sourced from small sites in Rutherford and Oak Knoll, which adds to the complexity and depth in the wines, such as seen here in their fabulous 2019 release. It should be noted, that Accendo Cellars has a new home at Wheeler Farms, which they call a unique and special place that allows them to continue to make their wines at the very highest level, and to welcome very select guests to taste the wines in an exclusive farm-to-table and exclusive setting. which I doubt I can afford to try, even though I loved the wine. The collective force here at Accendo is impressive, with Françoise Peschon and Nigel Kinsman winemakers, Michel Rolland, their consulting enologist, along with Steve Matthiasson, noted viticulturist, and Jeff Dawson, a Biodynamic consultant, all make this a serious project to follow.
($395 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

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