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A Look at 2015 Napa Cabernet!

Tasting at Premiere Napa Valley

In the case of today's event, the vintage under review was the 2015 vintage, which might best (and hopefully) be described as the final year of several beset with drought, and consequently, a rather sparse vintage for some, with yields down for some people as much as forty percent, though the average seemed to be in the twenty percent range.

As in some years past, Spring warmed up quite quickly in late March and April bringing vines out of dormancy earlier than some would like, only to be followed by a somewhat frigid flowering in May, which was largely responsible for the reduced yields in the valley. The summer's ripening period was characterized by only two moderate heat spikes, but the harvest ended up being one of the earliest on record, which is saying something after several years of dramatically early harvests in the valley. Some vintners began picking grapes for sparkling wine in July, which practically boggles the mind.

This somewhat accelerated ripening season may be partially responsible for what seemed to be fairly prodigious tannins in many of the wines I tasted today. The best wines have a smooth and powerful musculature to them, but many have somewhat blocky, tacky tannins that lack the suppleness of the 2014 and 2013 vintages'. The wines seem most similar to the 2014 vintage, which means this vintage is the fourth excellent vintage for Napa in a row, but if the 2014 vintage was an ever-so-slightly lesser vintage than 2013, which was exceptional, I would say that the 2015 are just ever-so-slightly behind the 2014s in turn.

Acidity generally seemed to be very good across the board, though one never knows how much of that is nature contributed versus winemaker contributed, and I continue to be encouraged by what seems to be a trend towards backing off the new oak. I'm not ready to say this is a pervasive trend in general, as these wines at Premiere are special barrels, and several winemakers made it clear that they specially selected older barrels for their auction lot wines. Nonetheless, if winemakers are starting to believe their best wines show best out of older barrels, well then I consider that a very good thing.

I found much to like in this latest group of top Napa wines, including some truly fantastic standouts from perhaps unsurprising sources. Scarecrow Vineyards, which is only an occasional participant at Premiere wowed me a gain, as they did last time, with a really amazing wine, while Schramsberg showed, as they usually do, an exceptional late-disgorged sparkling wine.

Here are my scores for everything I tasted. The notes in italics after each wine are my brief thoughts made on the spot while tasting. I managed to get through 213 of the 217 wines on offer (the missing four wines were poured-out by the time I reached them). Note that anyone interested in getting ahold of the wines below can discover their availability through Premiere Napa Wines, a web site designed to connect successful bidders with consumers who may want to purchase the wines.


WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9.5 AND 10 

1996 Schramsberg Vineyards "J. Schram Late Disgorged" Sparkling Wine, Napa Valley
Stunning buttered toasted brioche mixes with seawater and lemon curd in a mouthwatering, too-good-to-spit concoction that is simply phenomenal.

2015 Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Gorgeous and refined, with tight tannins, great acidity, and awash with flavors of cherry, cola, and tobacco. Beautifully integrated oak.

2015 Notre Vin "Malbec by Malbec" Malbec, Coombsville
Bright and juicy, and quite light on its feet, sporting red and black fruits, supple tannins, and fantastic acidity. 

2015 Volker Eisele Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Chiles Valley District
Gorgeous and bright, with juicy cherry and cedar notes textured with long, fine grained tannins.

2014 Scarecrow Wine "Toto's Opium Dream Scene 4" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
Fantastic balance and brightness offering juicy cherry and berry flavors, notes of tobacco and well integrated oak. A stunner of a wine.

2015 Staglin Family Vineyard "Booth Bella Oaks" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
Raw power in the glass. Dark cassis and black cherry fruit welded to tobacco and cola ripple with muscular tannins.

2015 Corison Winery "Corison Premiere Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Gorgeous floral notes mix with graphite, and flavors of cassis, and cherry. Great acidity. Fine grained tannins and great length.

 

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5 

2015 THE DEBATE Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Cherry cola flavors dominate with great acidity, and juicy fruit. Well-integrated oak. Delicious.

2015 Chappellet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Juicy bright cherry fruit is wrapped in a skein of tight but supple tannins. Will blossom in the bottle.

2015 Marciano Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Showing its new oak, but bright and juicy and delicious. Cherry, cherry, cherry.

2015 Alpha Omega "Dr. To Kalon" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Juicy, smooth, bright, supple, and long. Cherry cola all the way down.

2016 Dalla Valle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Rich, dark, cassis, black cherry, tobacco, and very good acidity. Did I mention rich? 

2015 Boich Family Cellar "Proprietor's Barrel" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Cherry cola and tobacco flavors are shot through with muscular fine tannins. Great acidity.

2015 Larkmead Vineyards "A5 West" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Juicy cherry fruit welded to oak flavors that are mostly easy to ignore in the exuberance of fruit.

2015 Continuum Estate Red Wine, Napa Valley
Rich cherry and tobacco flavors are bright and juicy, rippling with muscular tannins that are slightly drying, but smooth and gorgeous.

2015 BRYTER Estates "Inspired" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
Rich, bright, and juicy cherry fruit, with well-integrated oak. Great acidity.

2014 Heritance Vintners "Beckstoffer Georges III" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
Juicy, bright, oh-so-tasty cherry and tobacco are wrapped in a suede blanket of fine grained but slightly aggressive tannins. But very delicious.

2015 Artesa Winery "Morisoli-Borges Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
Bright and juicy, with luscious cherry and well-integrated oak. 

2015 PATEL Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
Juicy and bright, showing some oak, but tasty. Cherry, and tobacco and cola.

2016 Accendo Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Juicy, and bright, with lush cherry flavors that are very primary, showing this wine's youth.

2015 Matthiasson Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak
Lean, tight, cherry, earth, a tinge of herbs.

 

WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5 


2015 Favia Erickson Winegrowers "Homage to Antonio" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Antica Napa Valley - Antinori Family Wine Estate "A3" Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak 
2015 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars "S.L.V. Grande Dame" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District 
2015 Chimney Rock Winery "Tomahawk" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District 
2015 Monticello Vineyards "The French Connection 2" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Lail Vineyards "Henry VII" Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley 
2016 Saintsbury "Lee Vineyard Clonal Blend" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros 
2015 Davies Vineyards "Three Benches" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District 
2016 Stony Hill Vineyard Chardonnay, Spring Mountain District 
2015 Blackbird Vineyards "Premiere Napa Valley Cuvee" Red Wine, Napa Valley 
2014 PureCru Napa Valley "Clones, Clones, Clones" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Shafer Vineyards "Sunspot Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District 
2015 Nickel & Nickel "John C. Sullenger Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville 
2015 Hestan Vineyards "Estate Select" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Stags' Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District 
2015 Barnett Vineyards "Older Vine Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 TATE "Howell/Mt. Veeder" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Acumen "2+2+2+2" Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak Drying tannins
2015 Arietta "White Keys: A Melodic Inversion" White Wine, Napa Valley 
2014 Yao Family Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford 
2016 Ancien "Vingt Cinq Ans" Pinot Noir, Napa Valley 
2015 Vineyard 7 & 8 "Homestead" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District 
2015 Raymond Vineyards "Masquerade " Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Arkenstone Vineyards "Arkenstone Estate Ten" Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain 
2015 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Darioush Red Wine, Napa Valley 
2015 HALL "Sacrashe" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford 
2015 TEXTBOOK "Over the Rainbow" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville 
2015 Joseph Phelps Vineyards "Backus Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville 
2015 Freedom Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Pride Mountain Vineyards "Summit Select" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Faust "Salvation" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville 
2015 Gandona Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder 
2015 Coup de Foudre Winery "Lightning Bolt " Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga 
2015 Palmaz Vineyards "Super Argentine" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville 
2015 THE GRADE Cellars "15 Men" Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga 
2015 Sullivan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford 
2015 Farella Vineyard "Terrace Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville 
2015 Rocca Family Vineyards "Grigsby Vineyard Old Vines Barrel 15047" Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville 
2015 The Hess Collection Winery "Ridge 4 " Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder 

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9 


2015 Honig Vineyard & Winery "West Side Trio" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards "Estate Cuvee" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
2015 Spring Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District
2015 St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
2015 Robert Mondavi Winery "Monastery Block, To Kalon Vineyard" Red Wine, Oakville
2015 Merus Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Flora Springs Winery & Vineyards "CB1885" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
2015 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
2015 Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Groth Vineyards & Winery "Sweet Spot" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2015 Quixote Winery "Cervantes' Selection" Petite Sirah, Stags Leap District
2015 Whitehall Lane "Lion's Dust" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Odette Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
2015 Duckhorn Vineyards "Three Palms Vineyard Block Selection" Merlot, Calistoga
2015 Round Pond Estate "Gravel Series Trilogy" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
2015 Clos Pegase "The Gravels" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 HUNNICUTT "Equity" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 J. Moss Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
2015 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 La Jota Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
2015 Turnbull Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2015 Gamble Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2015 Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Bell Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Trefethen Family Vineyards "p = mv" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley
2015 Boeschen Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
2015 Twomey Cellars "Proprietary Blend" Red Wine, Napa Valley
2015 Terra Valentine "H-Bomb" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District
2015 O'Shaughnessy Estate Winery Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley
2015 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2015 Mount Veeder Winery "Rosenquist Ranch" Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder
2015 Jamieson Ranch Vineyards "Double Lariat" Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak
2015 Swanson Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Modus Operandi Cellars "Gravitas" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2016 Silverado Vineyards "SOLO" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
2015 Hourglass "Alt-Cab" Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley
2015 PEJU "Fashionista" Red Wine, Napa Valley
2015 Ehlers Estate "Block 4" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
2015 Dana Estates Sauvignon Blanc, Howell Mountain
2015 Laird Family Estate "Pyramid Selection" Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville
2015 Paradigm Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2015 Frias Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2015 Kenefick Ranch Winery "Doctor's Cuvee" Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
2015 Gemstone Vineyard "Winemaker's Special Selection" Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville
2015 Coho "SoNa" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Hudson Vineyards "The Shaman" Cabernet Franc, Los Carneros
2015 Davis Estates "Behind the Red Velvet Ropes" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Pine Ridge Vineyards "5x5" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 White Rock Vineyards "Breccia" Chardonnay, Napa Valley
2015 Robert Craig Winery Red Wine, Howell Mountain
2015 Sciandri Family Vineyards "I Am Delicious" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville
2015 Cliff Lede Vineyards "Dark Love" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
2015 Bella Union Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Eleven Eleven Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley
2015 Ellman Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Hertelendy Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2016 Ideology Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley
2015 Jean Edwards Cellars "Trois" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2016 Lang & Reed Wine Company "Lost But Found Again" Chenin Blanc, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley
2015 Leaf And Vine Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2015 Long Meadow Ranch Winery "Mayacamas Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Mayacamas Vineyards Red Wine, Mount Veeder
2015 Michael Mondavi Family Estate Red Wine, Napa Valley
2015 Saint Helena Winery "Block One" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
2015 Kelly Fleming Wines "Block 4 Hillside " Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
2015 Luna Vineyards "Riserva" Sangiovese, Napa Valley

WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9 


2015 Ghostblock and Markham Vineyards Red Wine, Napa Valley 
2015 Paraduxx "Premiere Blend" Red Wine, Napa Valley 
2015 Arrow&Branch, Caldwell, Covert, Italics, "Coombsville Crew" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville 
2015 Oakville East Exposure "Majek" Cabernet Franc, Oakville 
2015 FARM Napa Valley by John Anthony Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
Non-vintage ZD Wines "Petit Abacus" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Jones Family Vineyards "Two Decades " Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga 
2014 Summers Estate Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga 
2015 Louis M. Martini Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Ca' Momi Napa Valley Pinot Noir, Los Carneros 
2015 Hewitt Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford 
2015 Brilliant Mistake Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford 
2015 Prime Solum "Brokenrock SV" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Progeny Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder 
2015 Trinchero Napa Valley "Haystack Vineyard" Malbec, Atlas Peak 
2015 Red Mare Wines "Blossom Creek Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga 
2015 Priest Ranch "Snake Oil" Red Wine, Napa Valley 
2015 Spoto Family Wines "Private Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville 
2014 Varozza Vineyards "CXV" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena 
2015 Clos Du Val "Full Circle" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District 
2015 Somerston Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2016 Coquerel Family Wine Estates Sauvignon Blanc, Calistoga 
2015 Kuleto Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Krupp Brothers "The Brothers' Choice" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Starmont Winery & Vineyards "Stanly Ranch Estate" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros 
2015 Pahlmeyer "Pièce de Résistance" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Schweiger Vineyards "Le Perle" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District 
2015 Chateau Boswell Winery "Focus on the Sublime" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Elizabeth Spencer Petit Verdot, Calistoga 
2015 Merryvale Vineyards "Schlatter Family Estate Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena 
2015 von Strasser Winery "Sori Bricco" Red Wine, Diamond Mountain District 
2015 Patland Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Rutherford Hill Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford 
2015 Titus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena 
2015 Miner Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Canard Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Calistoga 
2007 Domaine Chandon "Vintage Yountville Brut, Library Selection" Sparkling Wine, Yountville 
2015 Essere Franco Petit Verdot, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley 
2016 Grgich Hills Estate "40 Years of Miracles" Chardonnay, Los Carneros 
2015 Keenan Winery "Sky Pieces" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District 
2015 Newton Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2015 Oakville Ranch Winery "Rye Dizzy" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville 
2015 Trinitas Cellars Petit Verdot, Napa Valley 
2014 Vineyard {511} Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District 
2015 Y. Rousseau Wines "Le Pic de Stagecoach" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5 


2015 Black Stallion Estate Winery "Gaspare Single Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley
2015 Cain Vineyard & Winery "François' Pick 2015" Red Wine, Spring Mountain District
2015 Burgess Cellars "Haymaker TKO" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Terlato Vineyards "Cuvee Five" Red Wine, Napa Valley
2015 William Hill Estate Winery Red Wine, Napa Valley
2015 Silver Oak Cellars "Proprietary Blend" Red Wine, Napa Valley
2015 Rubissow "Hawkwind" Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder
2015 Buehler Vineyards "Turkey Feed" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 JaM Cellars "JaM Cabernet" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 JAX Vineyards "Estate Block 3" Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
2014 O'Connell Family Wines "OCFV" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley
2015 Rombauer Vineyards "Stice Lane Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
2016 Acacia Vineyard "Winery Lake Vineyard " Pinot Noir, Los Carneros
2015 Beran Zinfandel, Napa Valley
2015 Taplin Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
2015 VinRoc Wine Caves "Red Lava" Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak
2014 Sodaro Estate Winery "Homage à Denis Malbec" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville
2015 Tuck Beckstoffer Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Foley Johnson Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
2015 Anthem Winery and Vineyards, LLC Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder
2015 Baldacci Family Vineyards "First Born" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2016 Bouchaine Vineyards "Best Barrel" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros
2015 Bougetz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Conn Creek Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak
2015 Emerson Brown Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2014 Fairwinds Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Freemark Abbey "VanZ Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
2016 Galerie Riesling, Spring Mountain District
2015 Girard Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 Mi Sueño Winery "Selección Herrera" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2015 S. R. Tonella Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
2014 Webster Cellars "Wordsmith" Red Wine, Napa Valley

WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5 
2015 Franciscan Estate Petit Verdot, Oakville 
2015 Amici Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville 
2015 Mario Bazán Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
2014 Steele Canyon Cellars "50 Harvests Plus" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Each year, the Napa Valley Vintners Association pulls out all the stops to host its annual fundraising event known as Premiere Napa Valley. Not to be confused with its star-studded charity auction in the spring (known as Auction Napa Valley), Premiere Napa Valley is a more focused event. It is a barrel tasting and auction, in which the wines on offer are all unique creations made specifically and only for this event, offering purchasers the opportunity to own an incredibly rare wine that often represents the very pinnacle of the winemaker's efforts in that vintage. All the invited bidders are ostensibly in the wine trade (retailers, distributors, etc.), while other attendees include the media and winery staff. The proceeds from the auction of more than 200 unique lots of wine go to help fund the Vintners Association itself.

The auction action at Premiere always serves as something of a barometer for California wine, measuring both the strength of the Napa brand in the marketplace, as well as the interest in the upper echelon of fine wine (many auction lots sell for well over $2000 per bottle).

This afternoon, the Vintners raised $4.2 million dollars at the auction, which was a bit less than the $5 million earned last year, and the roughly $6 million earned in 2014 and 2015. Had I been the betting type, I would have predicted a higher take this year, given the apparent strength of the economy, and the generally high praise for the 2015 vintage, which most of the lots represented.

Each of the auction lots at Premiere usually represents something approximating the best possible wine that a given winery can make in the vintage. Consequently, the wines offer a unique window into the pinnacle of quality for that particular vintage.

Every year, I attend Premiere with the goal of tasting as many of these wines as I can, in an effort to get a bead on the vintage as a whole in Napa, and to compete in my own personal marathon of tasting, which has become something of an annual tradition for me.

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