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Bottle Size: 750ml
Rating: JD 95, WA 93
The deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Melanson Vineyard is a little broody to begin, needing a good amount of swirling to reveal notes of chocolate-covered cherries, crème de cassis, molten licorice and preserved plums with hints of espresso, sauteed herbs and crushed rocks. The medium to full-bodied palate is packed with taut, muscular black fruit and supported by a firm foundation of grainy tannins and just enough freshness, finishing on a lingering ferrous note. 360 cases were produced.
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate. Tasting date: November, 2020
The company was founded in 2001 by Tor and Susan Kenward after Tor retired from a 26-year career with Beringer Vineyards. He was able to draw on his extensive knowledge of the best vineyard plots in the Napa Valley, as well as long-standing personal relationships with their owners.
The red core of the portfolio is a handful of single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon wines from some of Napa Valley's best growers. When these wines are deemed exceptional, Tor releases Black Magic, a special selection of the best Cabernet Sauvignon barrels in the cellar.
In addition, a complementary selection of single vineyard Chardonnays are sourced from prestige sites such as Hyde and Durrell and Torchiana Vineyard. Reserve Cuvee Susan is the white flagship, though in this case, the blend proportions from each site are decided before aging. Other occasional reds include an Oakville proprietary blend that combines Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, and a selection of Rhône varietal wines.
Greg Melanson’s vineyard on Pritchard Hill is very steep, with rows running up and down the hill directly across from Colgin Winery. Beyond Colgin, its rocky face looks down at Napa Valley’s floor. They put Pritchard Hill in parentheses because it is not an official appellation, but many great wines claim and champion the name. Higher elevation and afternoon breezes coming from the Pacific cool the vineyard in the warm afternoons. Ideal real estate for world-class Cabernet. The mountain site is rugged, its Sobrante loam soil studded with volcanic rock. At an average elevation of 1,200 feet, the vineyard sits above the fog line and benefits from maximum sun exposure all day.
2018 was a very long and overall cool vintage which aided its longevity and hang time. The grape set was under ideal conditions in the Spring, and the clusters on average were larger than normal, full, and picture perfect. Hollywood clusters, show offs; a beautiful and large set. They thinned (dropped fruit) more radically than they did in 2017 and 2016, one cluster per shoot in To Kalon. Still, by harvest it was on average a good 10 to 15% more than they had initially anticipated. Long, long hang time, picture perfect clusters, no real heat spikes, and an even and long picking season
Melanson is a plusher, richer softer expression of a mountain Napa Valley Cabernet than their others. A very steep and rocky hillside vineyard this vintage proves to show minerality and intense dark fruits. They selected 100% Taransaud barrels for Melanson. The drinking window for this wine this wine will be very long.
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