July 20, 2021|In Winery Spotlight

Spottswoode: The 100-Pointer Immensely Collectible California Cabernets

"If Château Margaux were in Napa Valley, it would Spottswoode." - Robert Parker

Spottswoode has often been compared to Château Margaux, the great first-growth Bordeaux known for its refinement relative to the brawnier first-growths of Pauillac.

There’s a reason why Robert Parker called Spottswoode the ‘First-Growth’ of Napa Valley. Their Estate Cabernet, which is predominately Cabernet Sauvignon with a small percentage of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, drinks as well as many of the famous Left Bank First-Growth Bordeaux and, remarkably, at a fraction of the price!

Not to mention… but do go on! Renowned wine critic James Suckling has described the 2018 vintage as “one of the best years in the past two decades” in Napa Valley. So, what are you waiting for?!

 

Along with the legendary Estate Cabernet, Spottswoode also makes a ‘baby brother’ label named Lyndenhurst after the historic property that originally stood where Spottswoode is now. This wine is made to be enjoyed upon release and drinks fresh, with ripe fruit and a luscious mouth-feel. If the Estate Cabernet is Margaux, then the Lyndenhurst is Haut-Medoc.

Be warned though… the Spottswoode wines are a hit year after year and always sell out. These are going to be no different. Fortunately for all you ardent Californian Cab fans, Dhall & Nash has the current vintages of 2017 and 2018 arriving SOON to our shores! And in large format bottles, too! The time is perfectly ‘ripe’ to buy now to assure you won’t miss out on these ICONIC wines!

You can read more about Spottswoode’s story in another blog post we’ve done by clicking here.

A Brief Background:

Although the vineyard was first planted in 1882, Spottswoode’s “modern” era began in 1972, when Jack and Mary Novak acquired the historic Spottswoode Estate. In the years since, two generations of the Novak family have stewarded the vineyard and made it a proving ground for environmentally responsible winegrowing and winemaking. The legacy of legendary matriarch Mary Novak has now been taken up by the second generation, her daughters, Beth Novak Milliken and Lindy Novak with viticulture and winemaking curated by Aron Weinkauf.

In 1985, Spottswoode became one of the first wineries in Napa Valley to farm its estate vineyards organically – and it has been untouched by chemicals ever since. Today, Spottswoode is certified organic and biodynamic, and is solar powered.

Its terroir, being of alluvial, clay loam soil is one of Spottswoode’s greatest assets. Along with its incredibly special position at the bottom of the Mayacamas Range where it meets Spring Mountain, thus creating a gap in the hills which regularly allows in the cooling Pacific ocean influence. This provides the essential diurnal shift to enhance freshness and flavour profiles. Without doubt the Spottswoode vintners craft elegant, balanced and age-worthy Cabernets that capture the character and the complexity of the legendary estate vineyard sites. Whilst each vintage is a snapshot in time, the annual cycle of farming is built upon the viticultural wisdom acquired over many decades.

As wine writer Jancis Robinson MW writes, “In the Napa Valley Cabernet arena, where muscle and potency seem to have become the most admired, or certainly the most notable attributes, it is unusual to read a producer claiming, ‘we strive for refinement, elegance, and balance’.” However, that old idea that all Californian Cabernet is over-ripe, high alcohol, and lacking in complexity is just that – an old idea. These are seasoned vintners who truly know their land, who weather earthquakes, wildfires, and multiple years of drought, so, when Mother Nature gives them half a chance, Spottswoode’s winemakers craft exquisitely expressive Cabernets of great structure and soaring beauty.

 

As James Molesworth so aptly wrote in the Wine Spectator: “There’s a delicacy to the Spottswoode Cabernet, but the wine is no pushover. Sneaky long and with tensile strength, it’s a yoga pose held for minutes, in stark contrast with the stereotypical Napa Cab’s bodybuilder reps. It has a uniquely pure feel, and while it’s in a less “obvious” style, its ageability is clear. The wine, like the estate, has the reach to connect Napa’s past to its future.”

Dhall & Nash is honoured to announce the upcoming release of the iconic wines of Spottswoode:

2017 Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon:

This wine has been widely hailed as a classic and is one of those wines that is perfectly balanced and divinely delicious already, yet has another several decades of life left in it.

Wine Notes: Aromas of sage, forest floor, currants, blueberries, pencil shavings, and violets are lifted and utterly beautiful, and the palate is pure perfection. Balanced and concentrated with currants, blueberries, black raspberries and gobs of mixed cherries, sandalwood, incense (especially on the finish), cedar, orange oil, and dark chocolate.

Vintage Report 2017: It wasn’t an easy vintage by any stretch – and not just because of the fires that year. After Labour Day, Spottswoode experienced 10 days of extreme heat over 37 degrees Celsius. Harvest “felt more like triage”, noted winemaker Aron Weinkauf. Fortunately, the chemical-free farming, and biodynamic techniques seems to have built in some hardiness and some integrity into the land. CEO Beth Novak-Miliken added that, “there’s just a resilience in the vineyard that allows it to weather these extremes” which seems like it will be a defining factor in any top vineyard’s greatness moving forward, as extreme weather and climate shifts continue to impact the growth and rhythms of the vineyard and grapes.

2018 Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon:

Wine Notes: A wine of beauty and bounty. Notes of black cherry, bergamot, red raspberry, and plum encapsulate a sturdy core of powdery tannins and vibrant acidity. Hints of rose and citrus blossom permeate its youthful and primary aromas. This is a wine of great freshness, elegance, and power that will generously reward for years to come.

Vintage Report 2018: The late Spring rains provided much-needed soil moisture at the time of bloom and fruit set, and coupled with healthy primordial buds, led to a textbook crop set. Overall, it was a long, slow growing season. Though there were some hot days, summer generally brought foggy mornings followed by sunny afternoons and chilly nights. These ideal growing conditions extended the ripening season and Spottswoode started picking reds near the end of September. Fruit was in excellent condition at harvest, with lots of colour and balanced sugars. The resulting wine is aromatic and vibrant, filled with great promise.

2018 Spottswoode Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon:

Wine Notes: A complex and inviting Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon suggesting notes of raw fresh blackberries, crushed graphite, cassis, baking spices, and cocoa powder. Fine tannins provide savory structure, while floral notes of violets and laurel perfume the glass.

Part of Spottswoode’s storied history inspired the name Lyndenhurst, a tribute to the fragrant linden trees that still bloom in the gardens today. Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon is a dynamic and inviting wine made from grapes grown in the Estate Vineyard blended
with those from other acclaimed family-owned vineyards.

Recent Accolades:

These are wines of great classicism and quality with enormous ageing potential, as the following accolades affirm.

 

2018 Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon:

“Composed of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon from Spottswoode explodes from the glass with bombastic notes of crushed blackcurrants, fresh blackberries, and wild blueberries with hints of cardamom, lilacs, incense, and fragrant earth, leading into wafts of pencil shavings and crushed rocks. Medium-bodied, elegant, and yet so, so intense, it has layers of bright crunchy fruit and mineral sparks galore, framed by exquisitely ripe, finely pixelated tannins, finishing very long and energetic. Wowsers!” 100 points – Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate (05/11/2020)

“One of the wines of the vintage, as well as a legendary Napa Cabernet that will compete with anything out there, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate reveals a deep purple hue as well as extraordinary notes of pure crème de cassis and blackberry-scented fruits intermixed with lots of tobacco leaf, lead pencil, spice, and hints of flowers. Reminding me of the 2016 with its purity as well as its balance, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a layered, seamless texture, and a blockbuster of a finish. This is a wine you don’t want to miss! It’s going to take 7-8 years to hit its early drinking plateau and cruise for 30-40 years in cold cellars.” 100 points – Jeb Dunnuck (28/01/2021)

“The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon soars out of the glass with stunning intensity. A powerful, regal wine, the 2018 possesses off-the-charts richness and layers of flavour that build into a dizzying crescendo of aromas, flavours and textures. Bittersweet chocolate, mocha, spice and liquorice accents are laced into a core of dark red cherry and plum fruit. The 2018 is a magical wine. That’s all there is to it.” 99 points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous (04/03/2021)

 

2018 Spottswoode Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon:

Suffice it to say Spottswoode’s second label would make the first team at most other wineries.

“The deep purple-black coloured 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Lyndenhurst comes bounding out of the glass with exuberant scents of fresh blackcurrants, black raspberries and Morello cherries plus hints of lavender, pencil lead and bouquet garni with a touch of Sichuan pepper. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is charged with electric energy, framed by grainy tannins and bold freshness, finishing with great intensity and purity.” 92 points – Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate (05/11/2020)

“A wine well worth purchasing and cellaring, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Lyndenhurst sports a dense purple hue as well as classic Cabernet notes of blackcurrants, Asian spices, violets, liquorice, and tobacco. Beautifully rich, full-bodied, and concentrated, it’s one heck of a second wine that can be drunk today or cellared for 15-20 years.” 94 points – Jeb Dunnuck (28/01/2021)

“The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Lyndenhurst’ is a fabulous wine that shows just how compelling the vintage is, even among mid-tier offerings. Blackberry, graphite, cloves, liquorice, and lavender all build in the glass. The Lyndenhurst Cabernet is usually much more approachable, but the 2018 is a real powerhouse. I would give the tannins at least a few years to soften. This is impressive, to say the least.” 94 points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous (04/03/2021)

The virtuoso wines of Spottswoode, are masterfully wrought and deeply tied to their place of origin. They age gracefully and are crafted in a style that’s consistent with the guiding principles of a fine ‘first-growth’ estate while also leaving room for the natural variations of vintage. Paradoxically, they manage to show poise and gentility alongside majestic energy and vivid concentration. The Spottswoode wines are a must-buy for any serious wine collector and connoisseur.

 

“Throughout the years, we have stayed true to an elegant and age-worthy style that captures the character of the vintage and the complexity of the vineyard. Our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine of place. It is the essence of our vineyard in a given vintage.” – Beth Novak Miliken (2nd generation owner/CEO)