Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace Diamond Mt. Napa Valley California 2017
2020 - 2040
The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace is a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc and was aged for 22 months in French oak, 100% new. Deep garnet-purple colored, the nose opens with profound notions of blueberry preserves, Black Forest cake and black olives with hints of camphor, pencil shavings and fragrant earth. Full-bodied, rich, ripe and concentrated, it has a solid structure of grainy tannins and a lively line of freshness, finishing long and perfumed.
For those that haven't heard, the big news at Diamond Creek this year was the sale of the estate in March 2020 to Maison Louis Roederer, following the passing of Adelle "Boots" Brounstein in 2019. This adds yet another jewel to Roederer's glimmering crown of iconic vineyards around the world, including Château Pichon Lalande in Pauillac and Merry Edwards in Sonoma. Nicole Carter, who was named president of Merry Edwards last year, will also head up the management of Diamond Creek. "On the winemaking front, Graham Wehmeier brings his expertise in winemaking and viticulture and will progressively take over from longstanding and celebrated winemaker Phil Steinschriber," it was recently announced. As a reminder for fans, Diamond Creek was established on Diamond Mountain by Al and Boots Brounstein in 1967. The first vines were planted here in 1968. Today, around 23 acres are planted across the four single vineyards: Gravelly Meadow (~5 acres), Red Rock Terrace (~7 acres), Volcanic Hill (~8 acres) and Lake (~1 acre). Amazingly, some of the original vines—dry grown, no less—are still going strong! Around 2,000 cases in total are produced each year. I caught up with Nicole, Graham and Phil at the winery in September 2020, touring the vineyards and tasting Diamond Creek's 2017 new releases as well as their 2011s, which were missing from our database. The 2011s were a very pleasant surprise—aging gracefully and sporting bags of freshness and energy. The 2017s were a little disappointing, with slightly chary notes and a hard, rustic feel to the finishes of at least two of the wines. "The closest fire in 2017 was Petrified Forest Road, 3.5 miles away," Phil Steinschriber informed me. I would not say the effect was so obvious as to forego the score altogether—some consumers may not even pick up anything untoward—so, I've included a score and a question mark for these wines. The surprise treat at the end of the tasting was a wine that had never previously been released: 2013 Three Vineyard Blend. Produced as an experimental wine, 300 cases were included with the sale of the property, which Maison Roederer has recently decided to sell. I'm very excited to see this iconic, important Napa estate in such good hands. Since it is still early days, there are no definitive plans yet for changes, but there were murmurings from the team of a winery upgrade, some replantings and a push toward sustainable farming. I can't wait to follow the path of progress at this already extraordinary property!