Abreu Madrona Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon California Napa 2018
2018 Abreu • Madrona Ranch Proprietary Red
Rating 100 WA
2025 - 2045
Like the other vintages tasted on this occasion (2016 and 2017), the 2018 Madrona Ranch Proprietary Red is massively concentrated. But what sets it apart from those other great wines is its greater degree of integration and flow. From start to nearly infinite finish, the flavors of ripe cassis, dark chocolate and purple raspberries ease across the full-bodied palate in a seamless, velvety swell of lusciousness, without ever seeming heavy or overdone. Of all the amazing wines I tasted at Abreu this year, this one rises above the others.
I'm not sure why, but it had been a few years since a Wine Advocate reviewer had visited Abreu's winery to taste through the impressive lineup of red wines. Winemaker Brad Grimes has been with Abreu since the 2000 vintage, and he met me at the unobtrusive entrance to the caves behind Cliff Lede. With three vintages of the four single-vineyard wines to taste, I was glad not to have any visits scheduled later, as the wines were a pleasure to go through. For those who might not be familiar with the story, David Abreu is one of the premier vineyard managers in Napa Valley. Along the way, he has acquired or developed relationships with several significant vineyard sites, and from 2016 to 2018 bottled four single-vineyard wines. I also tasted the 2019 Rothwell Hyde, which is a blend assembled from barrels that don't fit the single-vineyard profiles. Madrona Ranch is home base for Abreu, and it's the first of these properties he acquired. Driving through, one notices the profusion of animals, farm equipment, riding ring, and soccer pitch—and grapevines—at the base of Spring Mountain. Capella isn't far away, also on the western side of St. Helena. Across the valley, Las Posadas is the highest of Abreu's four single vineyards, situated above the Howell Mountain fog line at 2,000 feet above sea level. Thorevilos, which Abreu doesn't own, has been renamed Ecotone, and it's my understanding that Abreu won't produce it going forward. Like Las Posadas, it's also on the eastern side of the valley, too far east to be considered St. Helena but not high enough in elevation to fall within the borders of the Howell Mountain AVA. Not originally a winemaker, Grimes operates intuitively. "I'm not an enologist," he said. "I just let the wine be the wine." These are rich, concentrated and often sumptuous Cabernet-based blends, each one worthy of serious interest. To say I was blown away would be putting it mildly. Production is very limited, so readers interested in acquiring these gems should sign up for the waiting list for an allocation, or be prepared to pay a premium on the secondary market.