Diamond Mountain Perfection

Today’s Story: Lokoya

Lokoya was founded in 1995 by wine industry visionary Jess Jackson. Though Jackson had a well-established portfolio of wineries beginning with Kendall-Jackson in 1974, he established Lokoya to produce four distinct bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon from some of the Napa Valley’s most famous mountain appellations. 24 years later, Lokoya produces some of the highest quality limited-release wines from Mount Veeder, Howell Mountain, Spring Mountain, and Diamond Mountain that are all 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Though all four wines from Lokoya are produced in the same manner, each bottling eloquently displays the unique terroir of these diverse mountain appellations. The Mount Veeder bottling, for instance, comes from a vineyard on the western ridges of the Mayacamas Mountains at an elevation of 1,800 feet. The Mount Veeder vineyard is planted in volcanic soil that forces the vines to struggle in seeking nutrients which in turn creates intense, concentrated, and age-worthy wines. The Howell Mountain bottling comes from the W.S. Keyes Vineyard planted in 1888 at an elevation of 1,825 feet (high above the fog line) and with quick-draining soil forces the vines to struggle and produces wines that are incredibly concentrated and earthy. The Spring Mountain bottling came along during the 2005 vintage and fruit is sourced from three vineyards on the eastern slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains. Though Lokoya has an estate vineyard on Spring Mountain (Yverdon Vineyard at 2,100 feet), they also source fruit from Wurtele Vineyard at 1,000 feet and Spring Mountain Vineyard at 1,800 feet. Last but not least, the Diamond Mountain bottling comes from the northern end of Napa Valley overlooking Calistoga and is sourced from select blocks of three vineyards. Though this includes the estate vineyard of Rhyolite Ridge at 1,200 feet, the Diamond Mountain includes fruit from Wallis Vineyards at 1,500 feet and the Andrew Geoffrey Vineyard at 1,800 feet as well.

In producing the Lokoya wines, winemaker Christopher Carpenter intervenes as little as possible in both the vineyards and the cellar. Though the vines do demand constant monitoring and attention due to their high elevations and tough growing conditions, Christopher believes he must not lay a heavy hand so the fruit can express itself as naturally and transparently as possible. To this end, all wines are fermented with natural yeasts and are bottling without fining or filtration to showcase the diverse terroir of each vineyard.

Today’s Wine: 2009 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

100% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14.4% ABV

The 2009 Diamond Mountain Cab is an opaque deep ruby color with purple/black variation at its core. Once this opens up in the decanter, the nose showcases aromas of blackberry, blueberry, cassis, black cherry, redcurrant, licorice, cedar, pine, wet rocky soil, chocolate, tobacco, and graphite. On the palate, I get notes of blackberry, blackcurrant, black plum, black cherry, anise, earth, volcanic ash, cigar box, ground herbs, cardamom, vanilla, and a hint of oak. This Cab is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, elegant and refined medium (+) tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $400 direct from winery. It is always a treat drinking a bottle of Lokoya and this was magnificent for our New Years Eve dinner. Pair this with steak, lamb, or a cheese plate.

View from the tasting room’s terrace where we enjoyed a glass of Ruinart Champagne.
A tasting of each of the Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings.
The center of the tasting room.
The library in the tasting room.

The Matriarch of Diamond Mountain

Today’s Story: Davies Vineyards

Davies Vineyards is one of the most historic wineries in the Napa Valley, known as having the first hillside caves for storing and aging wine in the region. While known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Davies also produces Pinot Noir as well as Sparkling wine under the Schramsberg label. For more on their history, check out my previous blog post Who Wants Pie?

Today’s Wine: 2013 Jamie Cabernet Sauvignon

91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot; 14.8% ABV

The Jamie bottling is Davies’ highest-end Cabernet Sauvignon, coming from their historic Diamond Mountain property. This wine is named in honor of Jamie Davies, with the label bearing her signature, who alongside her husband Jack revived Jacob Schram’s land and the Schramsberg label. The fruit for this wine comes from three vineyard blocks totaling 41 acres ranging from 500 to 1,000 feet elevation. Two blocks are from the original Schram holdings (Napa’s first hillside vineyards) and the third is the McEachran parcel planted in 1878.

The 2013 Jamie is deep opaque ruby in color. This bottle certainly needed some time in the decanter, and once the nose opens it showcases aromas of blackberry, plum, black licorice, cigar box, tobacco, perfumed purple florals, and oak. In the mouth, this wine shows notes of blackberry, blackcurrant, black raspberry, anise, graphite, cedar, and damp soil. The wine is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a medium (+) length finish. 275 cases produced.

Price: $200. While this is a delicious wine, I do not think it’s worth its price tag. This is twice as expensive as the other Cabs in the Davies portfolio and almost four times as expensive as their JD label. If you find yourself with a bottle, pair it with prime rib, filet mignon, or a New York strip.

Easy-Drinking Cab

Today’s Story: Davies Vineyards

I am apparently loving the easy posts lately, as I previously wrote about Davies Vineyards back on October 9 in Who Wants Pie? Davies is a very historic winery with its roots dating back to 1862, while one of their more prominent fun facts is that Chinese laborers dug what became the first hillside caves in Napa Valley in 1870. I dive a bit more into the history, changes in ownership, and “dumb phase” during Prohibition in my previous post, so check it out!

Onto the (more) fun part…

Today’s Wine: 2012 JD Cabernet Sauvignon

76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Malbec, 4% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot; 13.5% ABV

The 2012 JD is medium to deep ruby in color, though it is moderately transparent. I used the Coravin system to snag a quick glass with lunch and let this breathe in the glass. On the nose, this wine showcases aromas of bright red cherry, redcurrant, blackberry jam, wild blueberry, graphite, cedar, slight baking spice, and a hint of vanilla. Once in the mouth, I get notes of plum, boysenberry, green herbs, asian spice, slate, cinnamon, and oak. This Cab is medium- to full-bodied and feels somewhat airy in the mouth while showing medium acidity, silky and almost fully integrated medium tannins, and a medium length finish. 925 cases produced.

Price: $45. This is a good value wine and an entry-level offering from the historic Davies Vineyards. Its bright fruit and easy drinking should make for a wine any Cab lover would enjoy. Pair this with lamb, steak, or even some bbq ribs or pork.