2018 Bella Oaks Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • USA
  • California
  • Napa Valley
  • Rutherford

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Community Tasting Note

  • Cristal2000 Likes this wine: 96 points

    April 23, 2021 - Fortunate to get an early preview of this wine. Obviously Bella Oaks has a storied history with Heitz and then Staglin, so I was super curious to see what Nigel and company was able to produce. Despite making some wine in 2016 and 2017, this was the first vintage that met the high standard necessary for release, and it's a knockout.

    I was able to follow this over two days, and it kept getting better and better with more air. Clearly the sign of a very good wine. A blend of mostly cabernet with little parts cab franc and petit verdot, the nose shows red cherries, violets, tobacco and loamy soil. Showing bright acidity and seamless freshness, this rides a bit higher on the palate than the Kinsman wines, but over time continues to put on weight and shows compelling levels of concentration and depth of flavor. The fruit is mostly blue and red, and the acidity and structure really shine. There's a nice mineral driven streak that shows on a long finish. This is another crazy good first vintage like Kinsman La Voleuse.

    3 people found this helpful 1,688 views


  • Geaux Tigers commented:

    4/25/21, 7:43 PM - Great note, this one I am looking forward to trying in a few weeks. Any discussion of forthcoming release price?

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    4/25/21, 8:01 PM - I didn't ask - probably should have. I would love if it were under $200, but that seems doubtful.

  • LiteItOnFire commented:

    4/26/21, 7:23 AM - Thank you for posting. Was able to taste the two Impensata wines but not this one. Now at least virtually I have :)

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    4/26/21, 7:46 AM - Yeah, it was a nice little compilation of wines that gave me excellent insight into what they are doing. I also brought CSIMM1161 along for the ride, so I'm sure he's going to post about them all and give more information. He's much better at taking notes than I am during events like that.

    Trying to get up everything from this trip is going to be exhausting. I've got VV, Fairchild, Accendo, Harlan, Arkenstone, Maxem, Memento Mori (Barrel), Tynan etc etc to come.

  • LiteItOnFire commented:

    4/26/21, 7:50 AM - Damnit you one-up’d me :)

    I know it’s so much work and I realized if I don’t push myself to knock them all out shortly thereafter my desire to finish started to waning. Can’t wait to read the rest of your and his notes/thoughts.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    4/26/21, 8:08 AM - You're exactly right, which is why I pumped out the Kinsman reviews the day I returned. Some will surely not make it up. I try to hit the newest and most interesting first.

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    4/28/21, 2:46 PM - Thanks for posting reviews on this wine. I'm considering purchasing upon release pending pricing. Always great to get a peer review to weigh in.

    Not long ago I ask for pricing and was told undecided yet... :-/

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    4/28/21, 5:41 PM - I'll be buying it so long as they don't go crazy with pricing.

  • Papillon1112 commented:

    5/11/21, 9:49 AM - Great TN...your pre-release thoughts go a long way on these inaugural wines (Bella Oaks & Impensata). No doubt Nigel & Shea are producing top notch wines hoping the price points are doable since Kinsman Rhad and Anjea are Fall releases as well. Excited but nervous.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/11/21, 11:15 AM - Thanks. It's always nice when we get a chance to try the wines before the release, and especially so for a first vintage. This wine was a bit disappointing initially while having it next to some of the Kinsman offerings, but over the course of the next day it just got better and better. I think it'll be worth buying, assuming the price point isn't too high.

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    5/11/21, 1:08 PM - Your comments say a lot about the Kinsman line up when you have all these other wines open along side of them. Truly makes the tasting that much more objective and raises the bar in this setting. Very curious to see the Bella Oaks release pricing.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/11/21, 1:25 PM - MJP: No doubt the relative comparison likely hurt Bella Oaks in this case. But it is nice to have the bar set so high for a new wine, so you know you aren't just wanting it to be good in a vacuum. I always feel like relative comparisons can short change a wine, because there's always a best wine and it outshines the rest. But in this instance, it was a good yard marker.

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    5/11/21, 1:35 PM - Totally agree Cristal. It helps and hurts for different reasons. In your case several different vintages and length of time open needs to be considered. Palates and taste continue to evolve every time I pull a bottle from the cellar. It's all apart of the fun and keeps us coming back for more reviews! I think about this as I try to become a more discriminating buyer.

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