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A Third Single-Vineyard Cabernet from Heitz
By Mary Ewing-Mulligan
Feb 27, 2018
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Heitz Wine Cellars, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Linda Falls Vineyard 2013 ($150):  In 1961, Joe and Alice Heitz entered the vanguard of modern-era Napa Valley winemaking when they purchased their first vineyard land in Napa Valley, where Joe was already making wine at Beaulieu Vineyard under the great Andre Tchelistcheff.  In 1966, Heitz made history by producing the first single-vineyard Cabernet in Napa Valley, from the legendary Martha’s Vineyard.

The Martha’s Vineyard site is owned by the May family; since that initial collaboration with the Heitzes in 1966 the family has consigned its Martha’s Vineyard grapes exclusively to Heitz Wine Cellars.  As Heitz expanded its own vineyards over the years, it produced a single-vineyard eatate-owned Cabernet, Trailside Vineyard in Rutherford, which debuted in 1989, as well as a single vineyard Zinfandel, Ink Grade Vineyard on Howell Mountain, also in 1989.  Now, Heitz has released its first new single vineyard wine since 1989 -- Linda Falls Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Linda Falls is a small, seven-acre vineyard on Howell Mountain that sits near the gateway to the Linda Falls preserve.  Heitz planted Cabernet Sauvignon there in 2002, at the same time donating 21 adjacent acres to the Land Trust of Napa County as a conservation easement for the preserve.  After working with the vineyard’s fruit for more than ten years, directing the grapes mainly into the Heitz Napa Valley Cabernet, Heitz produced the 2013 Linda Falls Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon as its third-ever single-vineyard Cabernet.

Although the Linda Falls vineyard and the Ink Grade vineyard are both situated on Howell Mountain, they are separate and distinct properties.  Ink Grade, for Zinfandel, is a much larger site and one of the highest points in the Howell Mountain AVA, ranging from 750 to 2100 feet. Linda Falls, for Cabernet, sits along the southern reaches of Howell Mountain, stretching above the fog line at an elevation of about 1500 feet.

The inaugural release of the Heitz Linda Falls Cabernet Sauvignon is a stunning Cabernet, reflecting its mountain-grown roots and yet showing the balance and finesse that Heitz Cabernet Sauvignons are known for.  Nearly opaque in color, it is fragrant with aromas of ripe blackberry, blackcurrant and blueberry fruit along with a note of pie crust and cedar.  The wine enters your mouth softly before revealing its heart of compact, concentrated fruit and firm, authoritative tannin.  For such a structured wine, the fruit is surprisingly vibrant, even to the point of being juicy and mouth-watering.  This wine is big and it commands attention but its expression is fresh and contained, not at all overly ripe and blustery.

This wine is entirely Cabernet Sauvignon and the vineyard is certified organic.  The wine aged in oak for two and a half years, including one year in oak tanks and a year and a half in barrels.

The 2013 Linda Falls Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is delicious and compelling now: As the wine airs in your glass, the fruit seems to sweeten and the tannins take on silkiness.  But looking inside the wine to its vibrant but concentrated fruit on the one hand and its firm and fine-grained tannins on the other hand, you can see the precursors of future evolution.  This wine is made to age. I believe it will be great even decades from now.

Heitz produced only 450 cases of this wine, which is available in select retail outlets and from the winery.  This inaugural release bodes well for Heitz Wine Cellars’ new single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

94 Points