Ehlers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2017

Deep purple color; red and black fruit, sage, mint on the nose; dark cherry, plum, redcurrant, raspberry, black olives, cedar, dark chocolate on the palate.

Ehlers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2017

Dry; sharp tannins—decanting recommended. After air exposure, rounds into nice balance of tannin and acidity (3.61 pH). Minerality, sage, redcurrant highlight a lengthy finish. The redcurrant tang, in particular, stands out on the back of the tongue. The tasty fruits, and that redcurrant on the lively closing attack, mutes concerns about alcohol burn on the finish; 14.5% ABV.

Time in oak not specified on the tech sheets, but there is appropriate, reserved oak influence. Malolactic fermentation helped smoothness and pleasing mouthfeel, especially after the decant. Medium-full body. Blend of 80% cabernet sauvignon, 20% cabernet franc.

Lured by the allure of wine and motivated by embrace of new challenges, French entrepreneurs and philanthropists Jean and Sylviane Leducq purchased land in the St. Helena area of Napa in the mid-1980s. In the manner of a French châteaux, they methodically acquired adjacent property to assemble today’s 42-acre, organically farmed estate. Bernard Ehlers, the original owner, built a stone barn in 1886 that is the heart of the operation today.

Jean and Sylviane Leducq

The Leducqs passed on management of their operation to Laura Díaz Muñoz. Originally from Madrid, Spain, when she took the reins Díaz committed to taking Ehlers into its next generation, including focused farming that includes some replanting. She also experiments with a variety of vessels for cellaring and aging.

Laura Díaz Muñoz

The Ehlers vineyards are located in an up-valley location in the St. Helena AVA. The location provides ideal ripening conditions with the narrowing channel of the Vaca and Mayacamas mountains delivering cooling winds to promote freshness, balance, and finesse. Fortunately, these conditions dictated harvest after a Labor Day heat wave in 2017. By October 4, all the estate grapes were in fermentation tanks, many in barrels and starting malolactic fermentation. The terrible Napa fires started the next week.

Ehlers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2017 is rich, nicely balanced premier Napa/St. Helena cab. Tasty dark fruits. Warm, velvety mouthfeel, especially after decanting. Bold without being overbearing. Red and black fruits delightfully interplay from initial attack through an extended finish that features redcurrant in a closing chorus that includes the entire cast of flavors.

Pairs with usual Napa cab suspects—grilled, braised, sautéed-and-baked red meats; slow-cooked brisket; rosemary rack of lamb; lamb chops; pork roast; braised rabbit; buffalo burger with aged cheddar cheese; mature, hard cheese. $56-65

Ehlers Estate website

Laura Díaz Muñoz virtual tasting during COVID-19 shutdown
Ehlers vineyard and winery
Ehlers vineyard in dormancy
Ehlers tasting room