A Beautiful Ode to Napa’s Great Yesteryear Cabernets
There are many things in life that I am grateful for, but growing up in the Napa Valley is a blessing I count daily. Today, I am sharing the first wine from my home town with the Wine Access community; 2014 Philip Togni Estate Cabernet Sauvignon! With you being one of our valued clients, I am reaching out personally, as I don’t have the quantity to share with the rest of the Wine Access family.
Philip Togni has made over 50 vintages on three continents, as well as studying under Bordeaux’s father of modern winemaking — Emile Peynaud. Togni made wines in the 1950s at Second Growth Château Lascombes in Margaux, then crossed the pond to work at Mayacamas Vineyards in Napa in the 1960s, before landing at Chappellet where he crafted one of Napa Valley’s most legendary bottles of wine: the 1969 Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon. Robert Parker even effused “Togni’s ‘69 may be one of the greatest California Cabernet Sauvignons I have ever tasted.” Having spent my life here in Napa, I had the chance to taste that ‘69 on one incredibly memorable occasion — and will never forget it!
Philip’s wines offer a defined style that resonates for me as wholly authentic, and akin to the legendary wines of Napa’s past — like those old vintages of Inglenook, and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars “SLV,” or bottles from the ‘80s of Diamond Creek and classic vintage Mondavi Reserve Cabernet. Back then, great Napa Cabernet was measured by the sum of its components, rather than the muscle behind its fruit and oak concentration. And that is true of Togni’s Cabernets.
Togni’s estate is perched 2,000 feet up Spring Mountain in St. Helena. Spectacular eastern facing vineyards add contour and dimension to the sloping landscape. There is a palpable energy up there and I’ve felt it: I’ve walked the vineyards with Philip and tasted in his cellar. I’ve come to understand the wine better and I can tell you that the man, the wine, and the vines — are inextricable.
The Togni wines are dense and rich, while maintaining definition and agility. They show incredible integration in their youth, yet reward decades of bottle age. Like his previous vintages, this 2014 possesses tremendous power and energy, and remains highly refined and sophisticated. All of these attributes speak to the soul of a wine, which is much more difficult to define or create, than flavor.
While I am always my own favorite wine critic — as all wine lovers should be — it is nice to know the Togni wines are revered by critics from all sides of the spectrum. Decanter’s 98-point review found the 2014 Philip Togni “beautifully complex,” “silky and refined,” and labeled it “a supremely graceful Cabernet.” Antonio Galloni’s Vinous rated it 97 and called it “deep, beautifully layered,” and said “the 2014 is built on energy and aromatics that won’t hit its stride until at least age 10.”
I see these words — and this 2014 Philip Togni Cabernet — as a beautiful ode to a time in Napa’s past.
Sur Lucero MS