2012 Juslyn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Spring Mountain District Napa Valley

2012 Juslyn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Spring Mountain District Napa Valley

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A past Wine Access story about 2012 Juslyn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Spring Mountain District Napa Valley

A Dream Come True on Heart Attack Hill


In the spring of 1994, Craig MacLean got his first look at a steep slope at the base of Spring Mountain. MacLean was a student of the mountain, and the head winemaker at Spring Mountain Vineyard thought he knew its many faces about as well as anyone. But this was something else. Not only was the hillside packed with volcanic rock, but the beautifully exposed slope was a back-breaking 30 degrees!

Every week, MacLean made a detour at the end of his work day, if only to trek what some came to call “Heart Attack Hill.” MacLean imagined the Cabernet Sauvignon that might be drawn off the hillside, which could marry the chiseled tannins of Spring Mountain with the supple elegance of St. Helena. Still, MacLean had no delusions about the likelihood of his dream coming true. The cost of buying the parcel was prohibitive, much less planting it.

Two years later, Perry and Carolyn Butler did what no one had dared, what MacLean couldn’t imagine. The Butlers bought the property in 1996, and then brought in a vineyard team with spades and shovels. For weeks, the team jabbed sticks in the ground, carving saplings into rock and clay. After planting, Perry Butler took the next, best step: He called Craig MacLean.

Since the release of the 2004 vintage, Robert Parker has lavished high scores and praise on MacLean’s fabulously rich, ultra-sleek Cabernet Sauvignons, bottles that come out of the gate like racehorses, but continue to age gracefully for decades. In the sun-filled, exceedingly dry 2012 growing season, Juslyn’s deep-rooted Cabernet Sauvignon shrugged off the drought conditions, eking out just shy of 3 tons per acre of terrifically concentrated, small-berry Cabernet Sauvignon.

The stupendous 2012 Juslyn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is the greatest wine ever drawn of this impossibly rocky, backbreaking slope at the base of Spring Mountain Road. Opaque purple in color, infused with lush, polished aromas of blackberry and mountain blueberry jam, laced with new-wood cedar. MASSIVE on entry, dense and voluptuous, the core is filled with crushed-black-fruit preserves, tinged with tobacco, graphite, and Asian spices. Drink now — only if you MUST — for its youthful hedonism, or do as we’ve always done with great vintages of Juslyn Cabernet, and lay this blockbuster down until the late 2020s.

$150 on release. Just a tad over HALF-PRICE this morning — the best price in America. 300 bottles are up for grabs. Shipping included on 3.

Expert Ratings and Reviews

92 Points Wine Advocate, 2015
92 Points Wine Advocate, 2013

Customer Ratings

Based on 90 ratings

Loaded with cassis with hints of anise. Velvet-like tannins. Heavy mouthfeel. Great balance.

International level multi-layerd Cab, ageable with intriguing nose. Best after 2020.

An elegant, great tasting wine

Haven't tried the 2012 but loved the 2007.

Have not opened yet.

Napa Valley 2012

Near-perfect conditions on the heels of two challenging years had Napa winemakers smiling as the 2012 harvest came to a close. To begin the season, spring bud break went off in perfect conditions, as did flowering and fruit set, setting the stage for a solid crop in terms of quantity. The summer continued with textbook conditions — warm days and cool nights allowing ripening with good flavors, sugars, and acid. Wines are rich, forward, and concentrated with plush, deep, dark fruit.

The ongoing drought played a role, with careful attention to irrigation causing some preliminary worries. Grapes did show some evidence of the stress with smaller, concentrated berries and higher polyphenols in the skins, but in the end these were more a contributing factor to the concentration and excellent quality of the fruit than a reason for concern.

Harvest started with a moderate September followed by a warm spell (with several days over 100°F) at the start of October, four days of rains to close out the month, and overall excellent conditions.

The results from these terrific conditions is a good-sized crop of very high-quality wines that are well-structured and concentrated with deep colors for the reds, slightly higher alcohols from the long ripening, but also in most cases with enough freshness and acidity to balance. Overall, they are wines with enough seductive fruit to be approachable young, but the best should age and develop for a decade and more.

Key Dates

Early bud break

Harvest starts for sparkling wine

Harvest starts for still wine

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