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In 1994 Jess Jackson created the exclusive label Lokoya, named after a word Indians who lived up in the Mayacamas ranges used. The idea was to craft a range of great cabernets from different appellations within the Napa Valley. In that mission, the team Jess, his winemakers and wine growers were successful, and for many years I have looked (and tasted) at the Lokoya wines as some of the finest and most impressive efforts in Napa Valley.
The Lokoya winery doesn't own any vineyards, all grapes are sourced from the very best vineyards, lots and even rows that Jess Jackson has purchased in Napa Valley. As for Pierre Seillan at Verité in Sonoma, the winemaker at Lokoya, Chris Carpenter, gets to chose grapes first of all winemakers, hence the high quality of each vintage.
There are now four different bottling of Lokoya, one from each of the prestigious mountain appellations in Napa Valley, on the western side Diamond Mountain and Spring Mountain in the north and Mount Veeder (the best blocks in the great Veeder Peak Vineyard) in the south, and on the eastern side on from Howell Mountain (predominately the Keyes Vineyard).
All four wines are crafted in the same way, one hundred percent Cabernet Sauvignon (24-36 hectoliter per hectare), fermented with its own yeast in small open top fermenters of steel after four to five days of cold soak. The wine is matured in new French oak barrels for 18-22 months depending on each wine and the vintage, and there’s no fining or filtration before bottling.
Production is small, not more than 2 000 cases per year in total in a good vintage. The wines are only sold through mailing list and at the Cardinale Winery in Oakville, where the wines are made.
The sad thing is that prices took a giant leap up by the 2007 vintage, to 400 dollar per bottle. In one way I understand it – quality is outstanding, all four wines are among the very finest produced in their respective appellation – and production is smaller than the demand for the wines. I guess we have to accept the rising prices, there are now more and more wines getting closer to the magic 500 dollar limit, where (so far) only Harlan Estate and even more Screaming Eagle have touched or surpassed.
The 2002 California vintage will be remembered as a long, mostly mild growing season, followed by warm weather near the end of September that pushed the ripening level upward, concentrated fruit flavors and condensed the harvest. An early April frost and May rains gave way to a mild summer with ideal growing conditions—warm days and cool, even cold, nights. Overall, the grape crop was balanced, showing excellent intense colors and flavor concentrations. While per-acre tonnage was generally lower than average, the overall yield of the entire Napa Valley appellation was average to above average.