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Sneak Peek: The Finest Napa Valley Wines Coming This 12 months

Sneak Peek: The Finest Napa Valley Wines Coming This 12 months

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Some of the best wines on the planet are patiently resting in barrel, waiting for the time they are released into bottle and set loose in the world. Fortunately, Premiere Napa Valley, an annual event for members of the wine trade, offers a sneak preview of the goodness to come each year. This exclusive multi-day event gave an inside view to the 2022 vintage, which was characterized by a weeklong late summer heatwave—with temperatures in some vineyards spiking to 110 degrees Fahrenheit—that had winemakers deeply concerned that any unharvested grapes, mainly red at that point, might be lost.

Having tasted through more than 150 wines in the span of three days, we can assure you that the 2022 vintage from Napa is one that will satisfy most palates. Keeping in mind that these are barrel samples and not fully ready to drink, we found the majority to be very appealing, with bold fruit flavors, nice spice notes, and a softness not always found in unfinished wine. Overall, many of them are very ripe—due to that heat spike—and will be best enjoyed within the next several years rather than to lay down for long aging. Oftentimes pre-release pours’ unintegrated tannins render them difficult to fully assess, but we found many wines that are drinking well right now, especially at a tasting of Stags Leap District producers that included standouts from Silverado, Pine Ridge, Baldacci Family, Chimney Rock, and Merus.

Prices were down a bit this year, with an average of $195 a bottle, which is not great news for Napa Valley and the wine industry in general but bodes well for consumers. Keep in mind, though, that these are wholesale prices, and that retail and restaurant outlets will reflect a significant markup. Even with a downward trend per lot, Saturday’s auction at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, which also included online bidders in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, brought in $3 million for Napa Valley Vintners and the projects it supports. As one would expect, Cabernet Sauvignon was the big winner, with bottles averaging $207 each.

The auction brought in $3 million.

Alexander Rubin

Tastings throughout the valley featured wines from specific AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) such as Los Carneros, Oakville, Atlas Peak, Saint Helena, and Spring Mountain District, while themed tastings showcased family-owned wineries, Napa Green certified producers, and women winemakers. In all, more than 300 Napa Valley wineries participated in 35 events that showcased the best the valley has to offer. This year’s PNV shined a spotlight on multi-winery collaborations such as a wine called 16 AVAs that is a blend from all of Napa’s AVAs and 20 different wineries, a Woman Winemakers blend from 17 producers, and 3/Three, a special bottling created by superstar winemakers Michel Rolland, Aaron Pott, and Jean Hoefliger. Offerings consisted of five-, 10-, and 20-case (12 bottle) lots, with the majority, 125 lots, containing 60 bottles.

“I was pleased to find 2022 vintage wines in the crisp and vibrant range while enjoying the dense and powerful wines that Napa is celebrated for,” Chan Cox, proprietor of Chan’s Wine World, in Destin, Fla., tells us. Cox purchased 60 bottles of Cabernet Franc from Antinori Napa Valley, one of seven offerings produced using the variety. “This is what attracted me to the Antinori Cabernet Franc,” he said, which is made with French clones planted on Atlas Peak in the early part of this century. “The result was so appealing we were fortunate to win the bidding at this year’s Premiere.” Another piece of good fortune: It is a 10-case lot, so there is more to go around.

Prioritizing larger group tastings over single-producer affairs, we seemed to be on a parallel track with James Suckling and Jim Gordon, newly appointed editor of jamessuckling.com, as we kept seeing and chatting with them at many of the same events. In a follow-up email, Gordon wrote that the wines are “not ‘off’ in any technical way, but just super-ripe tasting, broad, and rather soft in texture. They’re easy to like for a lot of consumers, but not likely to go down in history as a great vintage.” He continued, “That said, I did taste a number of exceptions, particularly from cooler parts of southern Napa Valley and from the surrounding mountains that had excellent tannin structure and elegance despite the heat dome.”

The average price of a bottle was a bit down this year at the auction.

Alexander Rubin

See Also

It is our opinion that most of the wines, especially those from valley-floor appellations, will drink best when young. They will continue to age until ready for bottling, with time in oak adding structure and finesse. With the first coming to market in October 2024, they are set to be released as determined by each producer’s winemaking team, with a special Napa Valley Vintner’s label affixed to every bottle. Several of the lots were snatched up by international buyers and may not be available to American wine lovers, but a good number will be sold through a variety of U.S. retailers. Here are some standouts from the 2022 vintage and where you’ll be able to get your hands on them when they’re released.

Total Wine & More

  • Women Winemakers Cabernet Sauvignon (collaboration), release October 2025
  • Amici Cellars Fire & Ice Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, release October 2024
  • Bella Union Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford, release April 2025
  • Stags Leap Unleashed Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District (collaboration), release October 2024

Chan’s Wine World, Destin, Florida

  • Antinori Napa Valley A27 The Next Generation Cabernet Franc Atlas Peak, release January 2025
  • Château Montelena Apollo Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga, release July 2025

Classic Wine, Fort Worth, Texas

  • Ashes & Diamonds Vineyard II Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain District, release October 2024
  • La Jota Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain, release October 2025
  • Palmaz Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, release January 2025
  • Sequoia Grove Winery Rooted in Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, release January 2025
  • Textbook Oakville 5ive Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville, release January 2025

Bounty Hunter Rare Wines & Spirits, Napa, California

  • O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery 2022 Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville, release October 2025

Wine Spectrum, Santa Rosa, California

  • Titus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, release October 2024

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Source: Robb Report

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