2021 Tor Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville AVA, Napa Valley.
Tor Kenward’s Tor Wines label is one of Napa’s best and this 2021 Tor Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville bottling is an amazing bottle of wine that captures the place and vintage to near perfection, going beyond what you’d usually expect with some real Bordeaux like elements and grace and the potential to age 25 to 30 years! Young, lively and tannic as you’d expect, but with a sense of grace and complexity already very much in evidence with impressive layering, restraint and length on the full bodied palate showing blackberry, blueberry, dark currant, dusty plum and fig fruits. While obviously dense and concentrated, even opulent, there’s a subtle earthiness, loam/graphite and a hint of black olive that reminds me of Pontet-Canet and or Montrose, which is the sort of complexity I love in a Cabernet, as well as having sandalwood, acacia flowers, sage/mint, vanilla, cigar wrapper and lingering violets and creme de cassis. There’s a bit more polish and generosity than what you’d call a throwback wine, but there’s a classic feel about this Tor that takes it above some of the more over the top modern Napa Valley offerings, which can feel hot, jammy and overtly chocolatey, which this wine clearly avoids to its benefit. Look for this one to go a long way in the cellar, though I’d be hard pressed to wait too long, there’s so much to enjoy here, patience certainly will be rewarded for those luck enough to get this seductive beauty. The vines used on this wine range from the western to the eastern sides of the valley, including some iron rich and rocky soils with sites that close to both Screaming Eagle and Dalla Valle. I love these ’21s, they remind me of the best of 2014, but look to be even more long-lived and the slightly lower natural alcohol is very welcome.

Jeff Ames, winemaker at Tor and one of the hottest consultants in Napa I first met about a dozen years ago when he started his own label Rudius (with an old school Cote-Rotie like Alder Springs Syrah), has scored many successes here and produced what looks like a stunning, if not legendary set of 2021s, if this gorgeous Oakville Cabernet is anything to go by. Tor Kenward and Ames, who’ve be together since the early 2000s, are as they say, focused on single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines, mainly, but also do some interesting cuvées, and each wine is handmade and bottled in a very small lots, with this one being a slightly bigger offering at 41 barrels made. This Oakville highlights the AVA’s elegance and supple structure that has made it one of the finest regions for Bordeaux varietals in the world, along with clarity of terroir and fruit, there’s the stony/spiciness that emerges from the glass with air, along with faint leathery/savory tones and pretty florals, all complimenting the core of dark sultry fruit. This vintage of Tor Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon was sourced from three vineyards in the Oakville, theTench Vineyard, the Double H Ranch Vineyard and the Renteria 360 Vineyard. Each of these captures unique elements to bring to the table and Ames fermented them separately and blended them later to put a masterpiece together, the grapes were crushed and saw almost three weeks on the skins in small tanks and then the wine was racked to exclusively high end French oak, with a combination of Taransaud and Darnajou barrels, where it stayed for close to 20 months. This Tor Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon saw almost no intervention was bottled without filtration to preserve nuance and purity, making it even more distinct and compelling. I don’t always get a chance to preview wines with the kind of limited allocation, so thanks very much to Chambers & Chambers for the opportunity, and I highly recommend these Tor wines!
($120 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

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