The ten Finest Napa Cabs to Drink With Your Grilled Steak This Summer time
When it comes to wine and food pairings, Cabernet Sauvignon and flame-cooked steaks are the ultimate partnership. Red wine and well-marbled beef work together thanks to compounds that combine in our mouths when we merge them with, in particular, protein, fat, and tannins. When we talk about serious love matches there’s always an element of chemistry at play and putting steak and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon together is no exception.
Tannins, which are compounds in wine that are present in grape seeds and skins and oak barrels, offer a drying or astringent quality on the tongue and gums. Steak’s natural levels of fat and protein provide a lubricating or moist feeling in the mouth. When steak and Cabernet get together, the astringent and moist qualities strike a balance and create an enjoyable sensation. Then science kicks in, with molecules in the steak’s fat making the tannins more pliable, producing softer, smoother sensations, while the wine’s tannins mellow out the fat and coax more flavor out of the meat. Ripe Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with bold fruit flavors and a good amount of oak aging is the perfect mate for well-marbled, fire-kissed beef. We’ve rounded up 10 Napa Cabs from a combination of well-known topnotch producers and a few that are under the radar but no less stellar.
Joseph Phelps Vineyards 2018 Insignia Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Joe Phelps left the construction business to focus on the wine industry and was quickly called “one of the greatest visionaries of Napa Valley.” This praise was bestowed on Joe by Robert Parker, who added, “His legacy is one of extraordinary quality.” Today winemaking at Joseph Phelps is managed by Justin Ennis, who continues to make wines of exceptional quality. The 2018 Insignia is a blend of 87 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 8 percent Petit Verdot, 3 percent Malbec and 2 percent Cabernet Franc from estate-grown Napa Valley vineyards. It entices you with aromas of crushed violet, cedar, tobacco leaf, and mixed black fruits. In the mouth it has flavors of black raspberry, black plum, espresso, and dark chocolate wrapped in silky smooth tannins.
Buy Now: $275
Ad Vivum 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Winemaker Chris Phelps received his degree from University of California at Davis and then continued his studies at the University of Bordeaux. In 1982 he directed winemaking at the prestigious Chateau de Laurets in Puisseguin-St. Emilion and continued to hone his craft at Chateau Petrus in Bordeaux before returning home to work as the founding winemaker at Dominus Estate. Ad Vivum is a collaborative project between Phelps and his son Josh. The 2018 vintage is deep ruby to the eye with aromas of black currant and freshly picked black cherry. It is full bodied with smooth tannins and flavors of ripe dark fruits, brown baking spices, and cocoa powder in the enduring finish.
Buy Now: $189
Larkmead 2017 The Lark Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
The winemaking team at Larkmead discovered different soils in their rocky A block and found that vines planted in the deeper Cortina soil produce grapes with depth and concentration unlike any others grown on the property. The Lark is deep inky purple colored in the glass with aromas of blueberry, black raspberry, and black currant. It is medium bodied on the palate with flavors of purple flowers, black plum, and cassis. The tannins are a bit grippy right now, so either enjoy with a well marbled steak this weekend or lay down for a few years. Drink before 2030.
Buy Now: $349
Darioush 2019 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
The winemaking team at Darioush feels that their estate vineyards in Mount Veeder and Napa Valley AVA “have hit their stride, producing fruit with splendid concentration, compelling freshness, and graceful complexity.” They also feel that 2019 is the “vintage of the decade for Darioush Signature Cabernet Sauvignon.” It is 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon that was hand harvested in early October and aged for 22 months in 85 percent new French oak barrels. It is garnet colored with aromas of black currant, Oolong tea, and dried Mediterranean herbs in the complex bouquet. On the palate there are flavors of ripe black fruits, mocha, and a touch of bramble wrapped in silky tannins.
Buy Now: $137
Faust 2020 The Pact Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville Napa Valley
The 2020 growing season posed a challenge for winemaker David Jelinek starting with a frost after bud break and a heat wave before harvest. Rainfall was only 10 inches which is about half of normal, but thankfully the reservoir was well filled, and irrigation was an available option. The 2020 is almost inky purple in the glass with aromas of blueberries, brown baking spices, and a lifted whiff of cocoa powder. Flavors of pencil lead, cassis, and juicy red raspberry are prevalent on the palate and are well integrated with velvety tannins. The finish is juicy with a pleasant closing splash of acidity.
Buy Now: $115
Crosby Roamann 2018 Crosby’s Reserve Napa Valley
Husband and wife team Juliana and Sean Walker McBride purchased an abandoned warehouse in the Crusher District of Napa Valley in 2014 and spent 12 months redesigning the space into what would eventually become their boutique winery. They chose to feature a rose on the front label of their bottles to honor the McBride family coat of arms, with the white rose representing sincerity and peace and the red rose representing beauty and grace. Their 2018 Crosby’s Reserve is 82 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 18 percent Merlot. It is aged 28 months in French oak and is garnet colored with aromas of eucalyptus, graphite, and black raspberry. In the palate there are flavors of black plum and cassis with warm vanilla notes in the very end. Only 138 cases produced.
Buy Now: $110
Etude 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Etude was founded in 1982 when winemaker Tony Soter established vineyards in the cooler climates of Los Carneros and planted Pinot Noir. For the last 10 years winemaking is under the direction of Jon Priest, who has expanded the portfolio to include other grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon. Etude’s 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon has an enticing nose of purple flowers, black currant, cigar box, and wet slate. It is full bodied with flavors of ripe black fruits, red raspberry, and cocoa powder enveloped in sturdy tannins that sail into a long-lasting finish.
Buy Now: $90
Meteor Vineyard 2019 Perseid Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
A collaboration between winemakers Dawnine and Bill Dyer and vineyard owner Barry Schuler, Meteor uses grapes grown in rocky, volcanic soils in Coombsville to make their Perseid Cabernet Sauvignon wine. The 2019 vintage is 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged 22 months in 70 percent new French oak. It has aromas of menthol, black currant, and ripe red plum and flavors of black raspberry, tobacco leaf, and black plum with a sturdy yet silky tannic backbone.
Buy Now: $160
Wallis Family Estate 2019 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Thomas Rivers Brown is the winemaker responsible for this delightful Napa Cab. Made from 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the Diamond Mountain District, it is aged for 20 months in 80 percent new French oak and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. It is garnet-ruby in color with aromas of crushed violets, pencil lead, and ripe black fruits in the bouquet. The palate offers flavors of cassis, black raspberry, and tobacco leaf with silky tannins and a finish that goes on and on. Only 250 cases produced.
Buy Now: $125
Plumpjack 2019 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Napa Valley
Plumpjack was founded on San Francisco’s Fillmore Street by Gavin Newsom in 1992. His principle at that time was to make purchasing wine less intimidating and more approachable. In 1994 Plumpjack Café opened and it was one of the first in the area to offer wine at retail prices. The 2019 Estate Cab is made with grapes grown in Oakville and has aromas of black raspberry, dried savory herbs, and cassis. It is soft on entry with flavors of red raspberry, brown baking spices, and black plum and offers silky tannins in the long juicy finish.
Buy Now: $196
Source: Robb Report