Saturday, March 6, 2021

Cliff Lede Napa Diamond Mountain Cabernet 2014

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 highlights family birthday celebration dinner

The family gathered for grandson Mile's birthday party. The parents/hosts Johnny and Erin ordered in carry-out Italian dinner. There's nothing better than gathering with family for a special occasion such as this. Son Ryan and I brought a couple wines for the dinner.

The wine highlight was clearly this Cliff Lede Diamond Mountain Cabernet that Ryan brought from his cellar. Ryan and Michelle tasted and acquired this wine during their visit to the Cliff Lede Stags Leap District estate and received it as part of their regular club allocation shipment. He says that this was their absolute favorite of all the wines tasted during their tasting of the Lede portfolio. 

Our visits and tastings at the Cliff Lede estate vineyards and winery in the Stags Leap District have been highlights of a couple of our Napa Valley trips. 

Cliff Lede Stags Leap District
estate vineyards and winery

Winemaker Christopher Tynan describes the 2014 Diamond Mountain vineyard for Cabernet Sauvignon: "Our Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon comes from an exceptional, low-yielding vineyard with volcanic ash and gravelly loam soils in the Diamond Mountain appellation, nestled in the Mayacamas Range on the northwest side of Napa Valley. The sun-drenched mountain vineyard has northeastern exposure and late afternoon breezes that ripen the fruit slowly and evenly. Planted and farmed by David Abreu Vineyard Management, this extraordinary site of old vines planted on a steep incline with a historic Napa field selection produces an age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon with dark fruit, intense structure, minerality, and perfume... "

He continues, "The 2014 vintage was a vintner’s dream. A dry late winter with unseasonably warm temperatures prompted an early bud break, leading to one of the earliest harvests on record. Moderate weather throughout the spring and summer allowed the vines to achieve a good set. The dry soil conditions led to low-vigor vines and small, abundant berries, creating very concentrated fruit that ripened with the warm fall days. With lovely autumn weather, harvest proceeded at a steady pace."

Diamond Mountain vineyards in distance
as seen from Diamond Creek Vineyards (foreground)

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Winemaker's Notes for this vintage release: The ravishing inky purple 2014 Diamond Mountain is a seductive and complex tincture where a panoply of cassis, pine forest, black tea, bay laurel, and cedar aromas playfully dance in the glass. Layers of blackberry, new leather, and fresh tobacco notes lay out on top of the bouquet. The long and decadent mouthfeel is guided along the palate by a fresh acidity and gobs of chocolaty tannins provide an enticing structure. Lingering notes of ancho chile, cumin, and crushed blueberries persist long after tasting."- Christopher Tynan, Winemaker

This was a blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot; 440 cases were produced.

This is a full throttle Napa Cab, about as full bodied and fruit forward as they come. Dark inky purple, medium full bodied, complex, dense concentrated black and blue berry fruits with accents of cedar, black tea and tobacco leaf with hints of cassis and cedar on an expressive, structured, tongue coating full tannins on the lingering finish. After an hour the initial slightly astringent notes of camphor wore off to reveal bright sprites of the expressive fruit.

RM 93 points. 


Nova Wines Napa Valley "Marilyn" Merlot 2006

Erin and Johnny opened this whimsical fun label. We have a deep vertical collection of this wine spanning two decades and I enjoy gifting it to folks, daughter Erin included. This is from her collection I've given her over the years. 

I did a feature on this producer and their Marilyn Merlot and Norma Jean Wines - A Study in Branding  several years ago. 

We first tried the 2006 Marilyn Merlot Napa when we did a vertical tasting of the 06, 07 and 08 vintages several years ago. The '06 was the concensus favorite of that tasting.

Today it was medium bodied, dark ruby color, pleasant easy drinking black berry fruits with tones of spicy oak on a moderate tannin lingering finish.

RM 87 points. 


We also took and finished up a bottle we had opened and written about the previous evening -

"Wines of Substance 'CS"' Columbia Valley Cabernet

"Wines of Substance 'CS"' Washington Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018