2019 Kenefick Ranch Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chris’s Cuvée, Calistoga AVA, Napa Valley.
A knock out for the price and deeply hued the latest 2019 Kenefick Ranch Chris’s Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon has loads of fruit density with blackberries, currant and plum fruits on the full bodied palate along with wild sage, mocha, sweet toasted cedar, shaved vanilla, hints of lilac flowers, minty notes and a touch of anise. The 2019, which is just out now, promises and delivers a fuller body, is more chocolately in style than the 2018, and with velvety lush ripe tannins, making for a winery that can be enjoyed now, but certainly has the underlying stuffing (or power) to age a few decades in the cellar. I’ve really enjoyed the Bordeaux varietal lineup here, with the Merlot, the Cab franc and this Cabernet Sauvignon all being worthy efforts and savvy buys for the quality and the region. Winemaker Chris Kenefick used 87% Cabernet Sauvignon (a good percentage of Clone 6), 7% Malbec and 6% Petit Verdot in the final blend and aged it for a full 18 months in exclusively French oak with 75% new wood in this vintage, all of which suits this wine well and allows it to full express itself.
The Kenefick Ranch Vineyard is a fantastic 125 acre estate located beneath the Palisades of Mt. St. Helena on the east side of Calistoga and, as mentioned in my prior reviews, is widely known for the quality of their grapes, which they mostly sell to top end wineries, though they keep a small amount for their small label. Owned by the Kenefick family, with Chris running the show these days, the vineyard has been in operation since 1985 with hillside vines mainly planted to Bordeaux varietals. The Kenefick Ranch Winery started with their 2002 vintage wines and has now after 20 or so years has gained an enthusiast following, though keeping incredibly realistic pricing. Earlier this year I met up with Chris Kenefick and taste through his latest set of wines from his family’s vineyard close to Calistoga and I especially loved his 2018 Cabernet Franc Caitlin’s Select, which combines the power and depth of its Napa valley fruit with the cool elegance and the perfect balance of the vintage, so it was nice follow with this gorgeous and opulent 2019 signature Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon, which also impresses. There are a few more rare upper end Bordeaux blends that merit attention too, but this one is an outstanding bottle and value.
($65 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive