Wine Advocate 98 - Produced from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon coming from Melanson Vineyard on Pritchard Hill, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Melanson Vineyard offers a deep garnet-purple color and delicate, slightly subdued black cherries and wild sage notions to begin, soon unfurling to show its multilayered glory: cassis, kirsch, lilacs and warm plums over forest floor, truffles, grilled meats and marmite toast nuances plus a hint of cardamom. Medium to full-bodied, solidly built and beautifully taut, it is packed with layered nuances and textured by superbly ripe, fine-grained tannins, finishing with great length with an invigorating lift. 210 cases were produced.
Jeb Dunnuck 98 - From a site in the same area as Colgin and vines planted in 1998, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Melanson Vineyard offers a rocking bouquet of chocolaty black and blue fruits, truffle, charcoal embers, and earthy nuances. This full-bodied beauty has a ripe, layered, seamless texture and is perfectly balanced. It’s another gem from the genius of Thomas Rivers Brown. It’s also worth pointing out that the farm at this site, which has lagged in the past, is now being handled by Josh Clark, who handles the farming for Outpost and Mending Wall.
The 2016 growing season benefited tremendously from the return of significant winter rainfall across the Napa Valley. Whereas the challenging 2015 season produced smaller yields of high-quality fruit, 2016 was more in keeping with the textbook vintages of 2012 and 2014, with a longer and milder growing season. In the Melanson Vineyard, we began working with Vineyard Manager Josh Clark, whose vine-by-vine approach to farming this site is having an enormous positive impact. Josh’s contribution is clearly visible in the 2016 Pulido~Walker Melanson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Throughout the season, he dialed in to the health of each specific vine and made individual pruning passes. The result at harvest was fruit of consistently high quality, a much greater percentage of which belonged in the fermenter. Even a young vine block of clone 7 that had been lackluster in previous years was impressive enough in 2016 to make the final cut. “Quality is not just paid lip service at Pulido~Walker. Mark Pulido and Donna Walker put quality first always—whatever it takes,” says our winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown. “These new farming innovations exemplify that commitment.”
Winemaking & Tasting Notes: The 2016 Pulido~Walker Melanson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is beautifully site driven. Akin to the 2013 vintage, there is plenty of tannin and crushed rock to mark this as a Pritchard Hill wine, although not excessively so, thanks to a buffering acidity similar to what we saw in the 2014 vintage. As with that vintage, the 2016 tastes unmistakably like the Melanson Vineyard: liquid minerals, white flowers, plenty of dark fruit. The structural characteristics married to the deep black fruits, savory notes, and dried herb qualities we’ve come to expect from this site make this a rounded, complete wine. That completeness will surely be the trademark of this extraordinary 2016 Napa Valley vintage—the best of a superb run of five vintages from 2012 – 2016.