Ehlers Estate J. Leducq Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena, Napa Valley 2017

Deep ruby color; black cherry, forest floor, violets, wet rock on the nose; dark fruits, black cherry, plum, blackcurrant, raspberry, black olive, graphite, blackberry on the palate.

Ehlers Estate J. Leducq Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena, Napa Valley 2017

Dry; solid, tasty tannins with balancing acidity (3.6 pH). 100% cabernet sauvignon. Bold, but has subtle, silky elements, especially in the mid-palate. Medium-full body. Smooth. Fresh. Sophisticated. Very easy drinker. 14.5% ABV

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.

The Leducqs passed on management of their operation to Laura Díaz Muñoz. Originally from Madrid, Spain, when Díaz took the reins at Ehlers Estate whe 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 J. Leducq Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena, Napa Valley 2017 is refined power. Winemaker Laura Díaz Muñoz favors subtly and sophistication over Napa strength and bigness. She delivers a svelte, palate-pleasing effort. Drinks more like a Bordeaux than a Napa pour. More Pomerol than Stags Leap. Smooth and fresh with superb red fruits complemented by darker fruits—plum and blackberry in particular. Pair with rich, red beef cuts; lamb; veal; poultry; slow-cooked brisket; pork roast; aged cheddar, mature hard cheese. $85-90

Ehlers Estate website

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