by James Suckling


I couldn’t have picked a better time to create a Top 100 list for Napa than in 2016. What a year it’s been for America’s most famous wine region, as most wines I scored were from the glorious 2012 and 2013 vintages. I tasted about 1,000 wines from Napa this year over four different trips. JamesSuckling.com is committed to the region and its unique wines and fantastic terroir and microclimates. We believe in the future of Napa wines in both America and abroad, particularly in Asia where I spend five months working each year and have two full-time staff in Hong Kong. That’s why I also now live part of the year in St. Helena so that I can keep my hand on the region’s pulse.


Gorgeous Napa weather during one of our vineyard visits.

It won’t be a surprise that Opus One Napa Valley 2013 is our Napa Valley Red of 2016. It was also my Wine of the Year in 2016. The 100-point Bordeaux blend highlights what is great about the best Napa reds at the moment: It has a classic balance and structure that recalls the valley’s past alongside a new style of precise and ripe fruit full of irresistible energy and drinkability. It also shows that the region is ready to move on from overblown, jammy fruit with too much alcohol. That is not the way forward.

The Dominus Napa Valley 2013 is a close second (also a perfect wine). This bottle, too, shows its history and pedigree from one of the founding-father’s vineyards. What a wine with such beauty and class.

The No. 3—Realm Cellars Napa Valley Oakville Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard 2013—and No. 4 —Paul Hobbs Napa Valley Oakville Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard 2013—both hail from a legendary valley floor vineyard, To Kolan. These wines show the true character of the soil, offering stone and oyster shell undertones to the fresh fruit. This is a departure from the many jammy, fruit bombs I’ve encountered from here that always masked the terroir.

Continuum Napa Valley Continuum 2013 is at No. 5. This bottle shows the superb quality and intensity of mountain grown grapes. I love Pritchard Hill reds, and this Bordeaux blend shows such complexity and structure yet a balance and freshness. This will age beautifully, but it’s also hard to resist opening now.


The No. 10 Dominus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Napanook 2013 is simply one of the best value, top scoring Napa reds out in 2016.

The list continues with many classics as well as relative newcomers. I tried to pick wines that excited me not so much for their flamboyance but for their beauty, complexity and balance. Drinkability, of course, is paramount and I think great wines are great from the beginning, whether from barrel or from bottle and through the years in the cellar. I mostly kept to picking one wine per winery on this list. The No. 10 Dominus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Napanook 2013 is the exception. It’s simply one of the best value top scoring Napa reds out in 2016.

Next year’s tasting should be just as exciting with the release of so many great 2014s from Napa Valley. I’ve had many from barrel and already they’re showing inspiring freshness and a fruitiness that gives them a more linear profile than the structured 2013s or ripe and fruity 2012s. Napa is on a roll with a trio of great vintages and fabulous wines—and we look forward to spending even more time with these great wines. —James Suckling, CEO/Editor

http://www.jamessuckling.com/wine-tasting-reports/top-100-reds-napa-valley-2016/The Full list: Click here



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