Beauty on Atlas Peak

Today’s Story: Acumen Wines

Acumen Wines is a boutique estate established by entrepreneur Eric Yuan on Atlas Peak in Napa Valley in 2012. Alongside founding winemaker Denis Malbec and acclaimed viticulturist Garrett Buckland, Eric purchased the 32 acre Attelas Vineyard (planted in 1992) high up on Atlas Peak. After the estate’s inaugural vintage in 2013, Acumen expanded in 2014 by purchasing the 84 acre Edcora Vineyard which sits 350 feet higher in elevation next to the famed Stagecoach Vineyard. Totaling 116 acres of certified organic vineyards, Acumen today crafts small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc modeled after the great, classic wines of the 1960s and 1970s. (They do have small blocks of Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot for blending as well.) Following the passing of the great Denis Malbec all too soon, Phillip Titus came in as winemaker and continues to make precise, well-structured wines in a classic style to showcase the brutal and rugged terroir of Atlas Peak.

Acumen produces two distinct “ranges” of wine, the PEAK bottlings and the Mountainside bottlings. The PEAK wines are produced in limited quantities from the best vineyard blocks and best barrels, offering a Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and two single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons (Attelas and Edcora). The Mountainside wines, on the other hand, are meant to open the estate to a wider audience of wine lovers and, at lower prices, include a Sauvignon Blanc, Red Blend, and Cabernet Sauvignon. To learn more about these wines or the estate itself, check out their website here.

Today’s Wine: 2013 PEAK Attelas Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec; 13.3% ABV

The 2013 Attelas Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is opaque deep ruby in color with nearly black hues in the bowl of the glass. I decanted this for about 3 hours, as it is incredibly youthful and should be gorgeous in 5-7 more years. The nose opens with aromas of blackberry, blueberry, plum, violet, anise, tobacco, dried earth, graphite, charred green herbs, mild baking spice, and a hint of oak. Meanwhile the palate showcases notes of blackcurrant, blueberry, black cherry, licorice, cigar box, scorched earth, gravel, coffee, chocolate, and a hint of ground pepper. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, firm medium (+) tannins, and a long finish. 360 cases produced.

Price: $150 (I paid $70 on sale). While this is a fantastic wine with nothing but potential to get better, the $150 level is tough for me to call it a great value. The winery was even selling this for $225 not too long ago before they sold out… That being said, I would certainly pay $100-120 for this wine and the $70 I got it for is an absolute steal. Tremendous effort and another gorgeous wine from the late, great Denis Malbec.

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