The world around us is ever-changing, seemingly going faster and faster, and a lot has happened since 1982. This was the year which brought us one of the finest Bordeaux vintages, catapulting Robert Parker to stratospheric fame. The FIFA World Cup held in Spain was won 3-1 by Italy over West Germany, and the ever-ambitious Jess Jackson established Cardinale Winery.
If you haven’t heard about Jess, don’t worry too much: up until a few years ago I hadn’t either, although he established California fine wineries Cardinale, Vérité, Lokoya, La Jota and many more. Jess passed away in 2011 and since then Barbara Banke and the family have been running this eponymous estate.
Since 2001 Christopher Carpenter has been acting as winemaker for Cardinale along with Mt. Brave and Lokoya, managing them incredibly well as they maintain a degree of individuality. Located in Oakville, Cardinale Winery was split across appellation wine between Sonoma and Napa, although in 2002 that changed to 100% Napa fruit. The average annual production is 30,000 to 40,000 bottles.
In Chris's opinion, the poor, volcanic mountain soils of Napa Valley help him to produce expressive wines with firm tannic structure, wines which showcase an origin with intensity, texture and balance. Sampling 10 vintages covering several years I am convinced that today this is a California benchmark gracefully capable of developing over three to four decades. This is a wine that belongs on the table with the world’s finest.
2007 Cardinale Estate, Napa Valley, USA
86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot. Noticeable maturity with lovely aromatics of dry cassis macerated in reduced balsamic and berries of the forest. Seasoned by spicy vanilla, clove and hint of charcoal. Rich, dense palate with sweet tannins and richly textured fruit leading to the lasting finish.
2009 Cardinale Estate, Napa Valley, USA
91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot. Opaque colour highly perfumed crème de cassis and raspberries mixed with a note of eucalyptus and smoke. Intensely flavoured and rich with volume well framed by savoury, partially resolved tannins and a juicy, vibrant aftertaste which lasts and refreshes.
2013 Cardinale Estate, Napa Valley, USA
86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot. Youthful, intense and broad with a mix of red, dark and blue fruit framed by vegetal accents and notes of mineral spiciness. A massive wine with grippy tannins and tonnes of acidity which brings harmony and proportion. This wine easily will develop over the next 30-40 years.
2014 Cardinale Estate, Napa Valley, USA
88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot. Dark berry fruit complemented by vanilla and burnt caramel and clove. Fragrant with aromas of flower, liquorice and ripe raspberries resonating well with a note of dry herbs. Despite its youth, this wine feels approachable and I love its juicy vibrancy.