Classic Vintage Napa Red for Half the Usual Price
Every once in a while, you have to break the mold in order to improve it. For a long time, proprietary reds from Napa Valley were primarily expressions of ripe, juicy Cabernet Sauvignons with a bit of seasoning from other varieties. But with Karo-Kann, a Wine Access exclusive label, we have been playing the long game, building relationships with some of the top vineyards in California for years, which allows us to offer wines like this paradigm-shifting beauty—an inky, purple-black wine bursting with blackberry preserves, sage, and vanilla atop a silky-smooth texture.
The blend may be slightly unorthodox for Napa, but the character of the wine is as winning and instantaneously appealing as you’d expect from American’s most famous wine region. Crafted from a bravely original blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Petit Verdot, 22% Petite Sirah, and 1% Merlot, the 2016 Karo-Kann Proprietary Red will make you wonder why more producers aren’t leveraging blends like this more often.
The components for this wine come from some of the top vineyards in Napa—including exclusive sources in Oakville, Rutherford, and St. Helena—where proprietary reds start at three times the price of Karo Kann, and the structure and age-worthiness of such pedigreed sites shines through with effusiveness in this bottle. More than that, it’s the inimitably juicy quality to the fruit and the lifted spice tones from the high proportion of Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah that set this red apart, and make it just as appealing to open right now as it will be in another five years, after it’s had time to repose in the cellar.
And it’s from 2016, a vintage all of the Big Three (Wine Spectator, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, and Vinous) praised in Napa. The Advocate gushed, “2016 was not just a great year for Napa Cabernet Sauvignon; there are many amazing Cabernet Francs and Merlots to be found too,” though Vinous may have said it best, calling the year a “captivating vintage from top to bottom.”
In that regard, the 2016 Proprietary Red is a pitch-perfect evocation of the vintage. Like the best of the 2016s from Napa Valley, the blackberry and mulberry fruit here is generous and demands attention right away, but beneath all of that is a savory undertow, the pencil lead and toasty oak spice dancing perfectly with the café mocha and chocolate that linger through the finish.
This bottle, then, is a transporting example of why the relationships we have built over the years are so important: In a year like 2016, we weren’t only able to get our hands on some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa, but we also were able to stake our claim on absolutely brilliant blending varieties to both buttress that Cab and confound expectations about what a great Napa red can be. This is it.