Deep ruby-garnet color; black cherry, blueberry, blackberry, cherry, plum on the nose; black cherry, plum, cedar, cocoa, oak spice, eucalyptus on the palate.
Dry; medium-full body; fine-grained tannins. Nicely expressive black fruits throughout; supple dark fruits on mid-palate and extended finish. Blend of 82% cabernet sauvignon, 7% malbec, 5% cabernet franc, 3% merlot, 3% petit verdot. Aged 20 months in oak, 40% new French, Hungarian, and American, so there is oak element here. Velvety mouthfeel. Dusty, fine-grained tannins; 14.2% ABV.
Third-generation farmer Tom Gamble founded the winery. Gamble Family Vineyards farms around 175 acres of prime blocks in several of Napa Valley’s most honored AVAs—Oakville, Yountville, Mr. Veeder, and Rutherford. The winery is hidden away in a nook off Highway 29 in Oakville. The website notes: “Tom Gamble’s mission is to carry on the heritage of quality farming that his ancestors sowed when they came to Napa as farmers and ranchers in 1916.”
The 1916 operation focused on cattle ranching as much as farming. Launcelot Gamble—the founding father—obtained land in Oakville in 1955. The acquisition later became the Family Home Vineyard and began the family’s adventure in the wine business, although they produced no wine. Launcelot’s two sons, Launce and George (Tom’s father) began taking over operations.
The website notes: “In the early 1970s, the family entered into a long-term lease with Beringer Vineyards, which planted the land surrounding Family Home to grapes. Having already turned his focus to grape growing with the purchase of several vineyard sites in the 1980s and 1990s, Tom took over the task of farming Family Home, which was originally planted by his mother and stepfather in 1997.”
In 1981, at age 20, Tom purchased his first vineyard with aid of some partners. The Gambles were now into the wine business rather than grape farmer business. In 2003, Jim Close joined the Gamble team as winemaker; he has made every bottle of Gamble Family Vineyards since 2005. Gamble expanded to land in Oakville in 2008, and began building today’s winery there in 2012. Designed by Tom’s brother-in-law, Morgan Conolly, the winery opened in 2013. This bottle came from that facility.
With roots deeper than a century, the Gambles respect the land. Winery and vineyards are certified Napa Green and certified Fish Friendly Farming. Tom advocates sustainable farming because he believes that delivers the best return on his investment in the land. He also thinks it makes for better wine, and this effort is a nice bullet point in that argument.
Gamble Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2016 is flamboyant Cali cab with vibrant fruit. Solid throughout with impressive focus through extended finish. Substantial wine from sustainably farmed vineyards by family with more than a century-long connection to Napa soil. Pair with grilled, broiled, braised; sautéed-and-baked red meats; simple meatballs with red sauces; slow-cooked brisket; roast or grilled lamb; barbecue lamb ribs; roast duck breast with pecan purée; wild game; portabello mushrooms. $54-60