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Posted: March 8, 2000

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James Laube's Napa Valley Cabernet Hall of Fame

Explore our list of Napa wineries.

James Laube on the secret of Napa's success.

For reviews of specific wines, visit our tasting notes database.

For more on Napa Valley, see the Feb. 29, 2000 issue of Wine Spectator.


Total Acres Planted: 1,689 acres

Total Bordeaux Varieties: 2,694

OLD GUARD: Martha's Vineyard

RISING STARS: Dalla Valle and Dalla Valle Maya, Harlan Estate and Screaming Eagle.

OTHER REFERENCE CABERNETS: Far Niente, Franciscan, Groth Reserve, Oakford, Oakville Ranch, Opus One, Paradigm, Joseph Phelps Backus, Robert Mondavi Reserve and Vine Cliff.

REGIONAL CHARACTER: A remarkably diverse area, with Cabernets ranging in style, from the mintiness of Martha's Vineyard to the coffee and currant-laced Groth Reserve to the brilliantly lush and opulent Screaming Eagle. The Cabernets are typically very rich, complex and dense, marked by mint and herb notes and firmer tannins than either Rutherford or Stags Leap District.

Oakville boasts an all-star Cabernet roster. Most of the wineries don't use Oakville on their labels, and a few are not exclusively Oakville, though most of their Cabernet comes from this appellation. Groth Reserve, grown in deep soils along the Napa River, comes from the coolest spot in Napa Valley and is among the last-picked valley floor properties. Directly across the river is Opus One, and a large chunk of its vineyard surrounds the winery.

To the west are key vineyards owned by Robert Mondavi winery, including its famous To-Kalon Vineyard (the winery began making a separate To-Kalon bottling in the 1990s; a large portion of the Mondavi Reserve is also from this vineyard, while most of the wine is from other Oakville vineyards).

Next to To-Kalon are Martha's Vineyard, famous for its minty currant flavors, and the Far Niente estate, which includes a large portion of Cabernet. Above Martha's Vineyard on a sloping grade is Harlan Estate, which might be the best Cabernet in Napa Valley right now.

East of the river, past Groth, is PlumpJack, and close to the Silverado Trail is the precious Screaming Eagle vineyard and winery. Up into the hills and still within the Oakville appellation is Dalla Valle, which produces a Cabernet and a proprietary blend called Maya, mixing Cabernet with Cabernet Franc.

Napa Valley main page

Valley Floor
Oakville | Rutherford | Stags Leap District | St. Helena | Calistoga | Yountville

The Mountains
Mount Veeder | Spring Mountain | Atlas Peak | Howell Mountain | Diamond Mountain

Pope Valley
Pope Valley

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