2010 Sueno Profundo Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
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View of Pritchard Hill The Wine Advocate's Epic 2010 Vintage in Napa Valley

More and more, the valley's fortunes rise or fall in the last days of each year, when Robert Parker's Wine Advocate publishes its exhaustive release of the new vintage. The 2010s, drawn from the coolest growing season in recent memory, were poised to hit the market. Napa was on the edge of its seat. Where did The Advocate come in? Let's just say, never have the fireworks been louder or brighter than they were this New Year's over the Silverado Trail.

Before we tell you more about this most unique vintage in Napa, or about young Ry Richards's (Phil Titus's assistant up at Chappellet) first release from the rarefied air of Pritchard Hill, here's our take on 2010.

Parker's Advocate described 2010 as "easily the finest Cabernet Sauvignon" vintage since 2007. We're in agreement, but with a caveat. The top wines, like those crafted by the kingpins of Pritchard Hill -- Colgin, Bryant Family, Chappellet, David Arthur and Ovid -- garnered 95-98 point raves from The Advocate. Justifiably so. But unlike 2009 -- a glorious, voluptuous harvest for all who picked before the mid-October rain -- we found inconsistency in 2010. Those who farmed rigorously, and brought in TINY harvests of small cluster Cabernet Sauvignon, authored some of the most complex, age-worthy bottles in decades. But those who cut corners would pay the piper, turning out underripe clunkers that are sure to disappoint.

The summer of 2010 was cold. Really cold. As was the case on the other side of the mountain in Sonoma, many panicked and began pulling leaves in July, hoping to jump start maturity. That turned out to be the most grievous of decisions when a couple heat spikes burned exposed clusters, leaving dessicated berries behind.

But, the most patient growers -- and almost all of the valley's greatest names -- practiced patience, trusting their vines to weather whatever Nature threw at them. These vines enjoyed an exceptionally long growing season, one that brought this tiny harvest to perfect physiological maturity. Sugars were sufficiently high, but more importantly, acids were fine and firm -- pH readings refreshingly low.

Up on Pritchard Hill, where Richards and Titus work their Cabernet magic, Chappellet would turn out some of their greatest bottles in recent history. The same could be true of their neighbors, Colgin, Bryant Family, Ovid and David Arthur.

As for Ry Richards? This would be the brilliant young winemaker's second vintage of Sueno Profundo, and his first shot at Pritchard Hill. Richards's timing couldn't have been more prescient.

Parker's Wine Advocate wrote, "Readers should do whatever they can to source the best 2010s, as they are magnificent. The top wines will reward cellaring and be long-lived." That being said, if you want to play, bring along a fat wallet! The best wines, given the Parker press, and the third consecutive tiny harvest in the valley, will fetch a King's Ransom. Bryant Family will sell out on release at $400/bottle. Ditto for Colgin at $500. Chappellet's Pritchard Hill could be the bargain of Pritchard Hill. Grab what you can at $150. Or, you can begin the year by counting your pennies -- with Richards's brilliant 2010 Sueno Profundo Cabernet Sauvignon, also drawn from the slopes of treasured Pritchard Hill.

95% Cabernet Sauvignon, with a small dollop of Petit Verdot, the color is deep purple-black to the edge. The aromas -- true to the top wines of this stellar harvest -- are big, bold and finely muscled, with gobs of blackberry and boysenberry fleshiness. The attack is rich and powerful, packed with crushed black fruit, beautifully focused and delineated, with a super ripe tannin finish that argues for a decade in a cool cellar.

Tasting Notes

2010 Sueno Profundo Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
"Deep purple to the edge. Terrific nose of blackberry, boysenberry, laced with black olive. Rich, bold and beautifully focused on the attack, packed with crushed black fruit preserves, beautifully delineated and high-toned. The finish is classic 2010 -- and textbook Pritchard Hill. The tannins are ripe, the texture silken, the finish high-toned and vibrant. Drink now for its primary fruit allure, or far better, lay Richards's new release down for 7-10 years. This one could use the deep sleep."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

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