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Napa's Epic 2018 Vintage

By: Ben Williams

    After the devastating and tragic fires that dramatically affected Napa Valley in 2017, the region needed a break and some relief from the elements.  Thankfully that relief came quickly, as the 2018 season was a much more temperate and easy season; and when it comes to wine production, it was almost the complete opposite of 2017 - a smashing success for nearly every single estate.

    2018 offered a steady and even growing season for vintners.  They were spared any dramatic heat spikes, or other traumatic events - including smoke taint (though some in Atlas Peak and Howell Mountain were indeed affected by the Mendocino fire, it paled in comparison to 2017) - that can affect vineyard health.  Grapes were allowed to naturally and evenly reach peak phenolic ripeness and harvest could be drawn out - not rushed or hurried which can lead to imprecise fruit selection.  This ideal vintage caused lots of people to draw comparisons with another cooler, even growing season in Napa: 2012.

    What makes 2018 different from 2012, however, is that this new release seems to have a common denominator of rich, dark, ripe fruit whereas 2012 produced lighter and thinner wines on the whole.  2018 seems to be the vintage that produced what serious Napa Cabernet lovers find most appealing in these wines: rich, opulent, and decadent wines that don't hide from what they are - ripe, big, and bold.  It is a hedonistic vintage, and not afraid to show it.

    Another unique thing about this 2018 Napa vintage is how dependable the wines are across the spectrum.  There are certainly "highlights" for the vintage (Bevan, Sinegal, TOR, Realm, Pulido-Walker, and many, many others!), but the overall consistency from the top end cuvees all the way down the line is mind-boggling.  There simply were not a lot of sub-par wines made in 2018, which is something that certainly cannot be said about almost any other vintages or regions anywhere in the world!  Just incredible stuff here.

    So, the point of this whole exercise is simple: find yourself some 2018 Napa Cabernet and buy it.  And drink it.  Then you'll see what everyone has been raving about.  Then go and buy yourself some more and store it for as long as you can resist! 

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Bottle shot for 2019 Passello Toscana