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17 Feb 2021 | Randy Kemner

Larkmead Vineyards--Top Tier Napa Valley Red Wines

The Larkmead estate, named by the early owner Lillie Hitchcock Coit (yes, the Coit Tower Coit) for the larks flying around the property.  After selling the property, Larkmead vineyards began producing wine grapes in 1895. Located just south of the Napa River between Calistoga and St. Helena, the family-owned Larkmead estate now produces some of Napa Valley’s consistently impressive red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon. Among top-tier Napa Cabernet producers, Larkmead Vineyards has been a standout because of its privileged valley floor location. 

 

Since the vineyard estate founding, a string of owners made an assortment of “Burgundies” and other wines they would try to peddle to a largely wine-resistant populace, some earning top awards.  The Solari family bought the property in 1948 and continued making wine in the fashions of the day.

 

When a new wave of wine pioneers began migrating to Napa Valley in the 1960s and 1970s to make premium Cabernets to compete with top Bordeaux, it laid the groundwork for the wine boom of the 1980s and 1990s.  When it came time for the Cam and Kate Solari Baker to take over the property in 1993, they were able to ride the wave to completely overhaul the estate’s vineyards (after the phylloxera epidemic of the 80s forced nearly everyone to replant), focusing on Bordeaux varieties.  After the construction of a new winery in 2004, Larkmead’s wines have achieved the kind of lofty recognition that makes them some of Napa Valley’s brightest stars.  

 

2017 Larkmead Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

(90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot)

The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon  is a joy to drink, more balanced and finessed than the previous year, thanks to the skill of Larkmead’s vineyard team and winemaker Dan Petroski.  The aroma makes me smile—old-school Cabernet, the real deal.  Lest you think it is dainty, it isn’t—it’s a bold red wine with ample heft, but none of the sloppy fruit in so many California Cabernets these days.  With flavors of black fruits and a little toastiness, this expertly put together wine gives the kind of firm finish that makes a statement.

$119.99 per bottle

 

2016 Larkmead Vineyards Firebelle Red Wine, Napa Valley

(67% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot)

We were thrilled to discover this Merlot-dominant blend that will make you a believer of this maligned variety.  With pleasant aromatics, the ripe, nearly-sweet fruit is full flavored, with a full-texture.  There is a touch of herbaceousness typical of Merlot, and the flavor persists on to its dry, bold finish that hints at graphite.  A super-premium blend you can be proud to serve.

$112.99 per bottle

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