Let’s take a look at the flagship variety in Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, what to expect from it and why it grows so well there.
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has many guises. If you enjoy opulent, glossy red wines then look to Napa. If you prefer more austere styles with high tannin and acidity yet ripe fruit, you can find these too! Let’s explore the styles of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Find your Cabernet style
As a grape, Cabernet Sauvignon needs time and heat to fully ripen its skins, and when this doesn't happen we taste stalky tannins and underripe fruit – sometimes with overtly green overtones.
However, when it’s too hot Cabernet becomes overripe. It offers plenty of sweet jammy fruit, but without the finesse and complexity this grape is famous for.
What to expect from Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
All Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons have a few things in common:
- Deeply colored
- Dark fruit flavours
- High in tannins (though these might be silky and smooth, or dusty and firm)
- Oak flavours, such as vanilla, toast, smoke. The wine is often aged in oak to help soften those high tannins
- Fresh tobacco, dried fruit, cedar aromas after a number of years of cellaring
Find what’s best for you
Opulent, fruit driven, silky smooth, and refined
If you like silky smooth tannins, then look no further than sub-regions on the Napa Valley floor including Rutherford, Oakville, and Calistoga. These areas also have traditionally produced some of the highest rated wine in Napa Valley, and therefore some of the most expensive too. As with most of Napa, you will be hard pressed to find a top example for under $75.
Bold, dusty tannins, fresh, aromatic, and austere
If you like mineral-driven, structured wines that will probably benefit from some time in bottle then look to the mountain regions including Atlas Peak, Mt Veeder, and Howell Mountain. These wines could be likened more to a Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon because of the minerality.