2012 Chad Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Reserve Napa Valley
 
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Oakville AVA Groth, Silver Oak, Rudd or PlumpJack??

We first learned about this possibility four months ago. We were speaking to Sean Capiaux, the regisseur at O'Shaughnessy, about the phenomenal quality and quantity of the 2012 harvest in Napa Valley. Sean confided that while the vintage was indeed extraordinary, even at O'Shaughnessy, where yields tend to be some of the lowest in Napa Valley, 2012 gave birth to a bountiful crop. "If you're growing your own grapes, there's a strong likelihood that you simply can't sell everything you brought in. The question is, with 2013 as good and almost as big as 2012, what do you do with the extra juice?"

Traditionally, when top Napa Valley wineries produce more Cabernet Sauvignon than they can sell, they turn to what's called the "bulk" market. The "bulk" market is a liquid bourse where millions of gallons of wine are exchanged each year. In most vintages, "bulk" wine is just what it sounds like — flawed outtakes dumped at hefty discounts. But in 2012, a vintage Chuck Wagner of Caymus called Napa Valley's "watershed year," much of the "bulk" is the exact same wine that will be bottled under the winery's own label!

In March, as even the cream of Napa Valley looked to lighten up on their 2012 Cabernet inventory, they took one look at the bulk market prices, and went with a different approach. With the best Cabernets fetching "just" $50/gallon (the rough equivalent of $150/case!), some of the valley's biggest names elected to hedge their bets, bottling a portion of their Cabernet with unbranded corks, and without labels. If sales were strong, they'd label. If not, they'd engage a third-party broker to sell off the "shiners" (wine speak for bottles without labels or branding), with the understanding that the name of the seller would never be divulged to the buyer.

It was precisely this scenario that played out when Chad got the call from the fine-wine broker at Appellation Napa. Chad explained.

"I've been doing this for almost four years, but I've never seen anything quite like this. Had the call come from a different broker, I might have called 'BS', but Appellation is a boutique, high-end brokerage. They live and die on trust. The sellers trust them to never divulge the winery name. The buyers trust them because the product is A+++. Any slight doubt I might have had with Appellation's story disappeared when I popped the cork."

This is what the broker would reveal: The 2012 Chad Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Reserve was grown and bottled by a winery whose cellar and vineyards are on Oakville Cross Road, a short jaunt from the intersection of Money Road. Barrel-fermented and barrel-aged in 75 percent NEW French cooperage ($1,000/barrel!). The wine was comprised of 100 percent Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. Given the above, there are just f
our possible sellers.

Groth ($125). PlumpJack ($225). Rudd ($185). Silver Oak ($125). As Chad said with a wink, "not an ounce of chopped liver on the table!"

We've now tasted nearly one hundred 2012 Cabernet Sauvignons out of barrel and bottle. Not surprisingly, given the Oakville Cross Road pedigree, few hold a candle to the 2012 Chad Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Reserve. Those that do, will soon fetch $125-$225/bottle on release. Read our tasting note and you'll understand why!

The 2012 Chad Oakville Reserve is black/purple to the rim, infused with a fleshy bouquet of graphite, black raspberries, blackcurrants and crème de cassis, framed by a healthy dose of new-wood cedar. Sweet, broad and expansive on the attack, with a luscious mix of black-fruit concentration and surprising elegance. This is a powerhouse Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon that, while delicious out of the gate, will continue to put on weight and added complexity over the course of the next 15 years.



Tasting Notes

2012 Chad Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Reserve Napa Valley
"The 2012 Chad Oakville Reserve is black/purple to the rim, infused with a fleshy bouquet of graphite, black raspberries, blackcurrants and crème de cassis, framed by a healthy dose of new-wood cedar. Sweet, broad and expansive on the attack, with a luscious mix of black-fruit concentration and surprising elegance. This is a powerhouse Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon that, while delicious out of the gate, will continue to put on weight and added complexity over the course of the next 15 years."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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