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Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media, www.vinousmedia.com Jan. 2018 – 96+ pts. - From Brilliance in Napa Valley: The 2016 & 2015 Cabernets
Proprietors Bruce and Heather Phillips, along with the team headed by viticulturist Mike Wolf and winemaker Françoise Peschon are making world-class wine at Vine Hill Ranch. The most impressive thing about Vine Hill Ranch is not the 2015 nor the 2016, but the lots I tasted on my most recent visit that have been excluded from the 2016 blend. The unused lots, some of which are better than the 2016s at many other estates, show the total commitment to quality that is at the heart of Vine Hill Ranch. I can still remember tasting the debut 2008 years ago. That wine was compelling. Since then, Vine Hill Ranch has gone on to even greater heights. Readers should do whatever they can to taste these magical Cabernets.
The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is gorgeous. Above all else, I am impressed with how much freshness the 2015 shows. Racy red cherry, plum, rose petal and lavender notes fill out the wine’s sumptuous frame. Bottled just a few months ago, the 2015 is a bit reticent, but it is nevertheless impressive. Time in the glass brings out the wine’s natural radiance.
Lisa Perotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate, www.robertparker.com, Issue #234 Dec. 2017 – 94+ pts.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon open with cedar notions over a cassis, warm blackberries and black cherries core with hints of spice box, garrigue and bay leaves. Full bodied, firm and grainy with nice vibrant fruit expression, it has lots of oak at this youthful but that should marry nicely with a further 3-4 years in bottle.
PHILOSOPHY VHR Cabernet is an estate-grown wine of place, the culmination of the Phillips family’s evolution from grape growing to winemaking over three generations. Years of traversing vineyard rows and caring for each of Vine Hill Ranch’s seven blocks have imbued a deep understanding of our estate vineyard’s unique characteristics.
To produce a true wine of place, we take a minimal touch approach to winemaking: harvesting at optimal ripeness, meticulous sorting of fruit, cold-soaking, extended maceration, use of native yeast and new French oak barrels. We vinify each lot separately to promote the full expression of the vineyard.
VHR 2015 The 2015 VHR Cabernet Sauvignon is imbued with notes of dried lavender and violet mingled with warm ripe blackberry, dark chocolate shavings, graham cracker, savory herbs, cedar, tobacco and cassis. Silk and velvet are layered over an intense, powerful core of lush, dark fruit, with refined tannins and a persistent finish. An energetic vein of minerality and acidity gives this wine a lift of brightness that frames a generous mouthfeel of ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit, with hints of vanilla bean and mocha. Complex, balanced, full-bodied and opulent, the wine seamlessly integrates the individual attributes of the contributing vineyard blocks to create a singular expression of the vineyard.
2015 VINTAGE The fourth year of the prolonged California drought delivered sunny, dry conditions, prompting an early bud break with minimal frost pressure. The balance of the season presented unusually warm conditions, punctuated by an acute heat spike at the end of our September harvest. At Vine Hill Ranch, these conditions resulted in a small crop of exceptional character. Fruit harvested from blocks 3, 4 and 6 produced an extraordinary expression of the vintage that, while limited in its production, offers a complexity and depth that have become signatures of the vineyard.
The 2015 harvest was completed on September 19th, with our benchland Block 4 yielding 2.75 tons per acre. Our benchland Block 3 yielded 2.99 tons, hillside Block 6 yielded 2.93 tons and creekside Block 7 providing 3.19 tons. Akin to the 2013 vintage, the 2015 season’s warm conditions yielded fruit that delivers remarkable texture, well-developed tannic structures and persistent finish. Signature dark flavor profiles, combined with a remarkable vibrancy, produced wines of singular complexity and structure.
It was during the unseasonably cool May of 2015 that our mother, Alex Phillips, passed away. Preceded six months earlier by our father, her passage transitioned the gift of stewardship to the third generation of our family at Vine Hill Ranch.