2017 Kinsman Eades Cabernet Sauvignon Rhadamanthus

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • USA
  • California
  • Napa Valley
  • Diamond Mountain

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Community Tasting Note

  • csimm1161 wrote: 97 points

    April 30, 2021 - 3 days in Napa: Arkenstone, Memento Mori, Maxem, The French Laundry, Christopher Tynan, Kinsman, Harlan, Vice Versa, Accendo, Fairchild, Macdonald, and a truckload of others (Napa): Well now party people, you can add me to the list of Cellar Trackers who are all about trumpeting the Kinsman label. The hype is real my friends. I know you don’t need me to convince you otherwise, but I cannot help but throw in my two cents on the wine, the style, and the people behind it.

    The dynamic duo of Nigel and Shae Kinsman have pulled off what is likely one of the few 2017 wines from Napa that have the ability to crush other top shelf competitors’ creations even from stronger vintages (ok, I know it’s not a competition, but it kinda is, right?!...anyway…). I’m sorry, because I know we are supposed to be generally forgiving of 2017s and how “they just need time,” are “just going through awkward phases,” and “will just be more nuanced examples of the varietal” in ten years. Thanks but I heard all that in 2011. And hey, that’s all fine and good, but I’m gonna go ahead and all but dismiss 2017… except (now you see, my hypocrisy knows no bounds already, eh?!)… except…with a handful of wines – as in, I can count them on one hand, which now includes this good ‘ol Kinsman Rhadamanthus. Are there other successes in 2017 from other producers? Yes, of course; I’ve had a few of them. But when you stack them up against some of the others in-play, it becomes painfully evident where the shortcomings are.

    So, I’m no swamy of vintages nor am I a blind tasting guru that can pinpoint a particular wine’s DNA and trace back its berry-by-berry familial history, but I can tell you that when I first took a sip of this wine, I would have NEVER called it out as the 2017 vintage. Napa? Check. Mountain fruit? Check. Diamond Mountain? Check-ish…maaaaaaybe on a really good day of baby Jesus-like clarity I might have been able to check that). 2017? Um…No. But yet, here I am. Face to face with a wine that makes me look like an instant vintage hater. Being humbled is always such an emasculating experience. Fun times.

    In any event…

    The wine: Red and black cherry, wild red raspberry, plum skin, asphalt, ash (like the kind that circles around your nose when you kick the dust in front of you as you’re hiking on Mount Lassen in the dead of summer), salt rock, and an interesting stemmy (pyrazine? – in a great way) character that barely tickles the back of the palate on the tail. Tannic and backward in the best of ways, locking up on the rear and bucking an awesome grip and nervy tension. Finishes perfectly dry, but allowing the succulence to keep peeking through, elongating the drive and extending the execution of flavor. Mountain tannins and acidity are very Margaux-esque in profile. Unbelievable tension.

    Give this a number of years to settle into itself, though I have to say I love the wild vivacity flavor-uppercutting throughout its delivery. 96-97 points. A true testament to the finest winemaking around. This wine is baller!

    6 people found this helpful 3,734 views


  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    5/1/21, 7:24 AM - Best 17 I've had from Napa. Period.

  • csimm1161 commented:

    5/1/21, 9:35 AM - I never thought I would have a wine-life altering experience with a 2017 Napa Cab. Just when I think I'm halfway intelligent, I'm find I'm just smart enough to realize how dumb I am. Wine subjectivities are always a fun and humbling moving target.

  • JustinGoodman commented:

    5/30/21, 8:04 PM - For sure best ‘17 I’ve had from Napa ... but why the ‘11 snark? They really are drinking nicely right now...

  • csimm1161 commented:

    5/31/21, 9:20 AM - Hi Justin. How’s it going! In answer to your question re: 2011, I guess the polite answer is that there are some houses out of the Valley that indeed were able to pull off 2011. In this one guy’s opinion, however, I would categorize 2011 in Napa for Cabernet Sauvignon as a weak vintage, with a TON of wines out there that are essentially flawed, never reached full veraison, or are so diluted or riddled with wet vegetal notes that they are, at the very least, not representative of what I personally want from that varietal. Add the fact that many of these wineries branded their 2011s as just “illustrative of the vintage” (which for me is often a red flag excuse for bottling inferior wine). I especially love recent “library releases” of 2011s (and other past vintages), mainly as some wineries try to cash in from 2020 (another lost vintage for the most part - fires + COVID).

    Again, I fully recognize that some top houses were able to craft “a more austere wine” or a “wine worth aging” in 2011, and no question some are turning out nicely. I’ve had a few, but more losers than winners in my book. Broadly speaking, put any vintage bookending 2011 against it (2009/2010 and 2012-2016) and the 2011 GENERALLY is a C- student at best by direct comparison.

    So that is most of my 2011 rant in a nutshell and a long answer to your question. Lol. Apologies. I also realize some of this has to do with style. For those liking 30 year old BDX, I could see why 2011 may serve up enjoyment from such a consumer. And like I always say, drink what you love. And if you love 2011, god bless ya for it my friend. I’m less disposed to be a fan, but I’m always open to trying anything! :)

  • JustinGoodman commented:

    6/1/21, 6:36 AM - Thanks for the long reply -- and I do agree that it was most certainly a difficult vintage that requires a skillful hand where many producers simply missed the mark. I just enjoy the fact that I can usually find them at auction at significant discount - even from top producers - and I do prefer a little bit less "over the top" style, in any case. But I had an '11 Abreu Madrona a few weeks ago that was fantastic, '11 Corison wines are great, and I've also enjoyed the Colgin wines, Scarecrow, and several others from 2011 that I'd probably feel guilty about drinking on a random Thursday night if not for the fact that you can score them <$200-250 at auction simply because they're from a "bad vintage."

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    6/1/21, 7:06 AM - I’ve been meaning to pick up some 11 Abreu. Madrona sounds like a great place to start. The other person who told me to do so was Shae Kinsman.

  • csimm1161 commented:

    6/1/21, 9:23 AM - Good info gents. Thanks! I would suspect the house of Abreu and a few others would either come up with a decent product from 2011 or not bottle/sell it at all. This where Cellar Tracker comes in handy for those looking to sniff out some relative deals QPR-wise from "off" vintages to find potential outliers that didn't tank. Of course, there is the adage that bad vintages are where you find out who the "real" winemakers are out there, as anyone wanting to call him/herself a winemaker should be able to make quality stuff in a good vintage. So... If you know of anyone who made a bad wine in Napa in 2016, maybe he/she should find a different profession. :)

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    6/2/21, 8:35 AM - 16 is just magical vintage. Still buying what I find.

    Csimm, what is your favorite bottling so far?

  • csimm1161 commented:

    6/2/21, 8:49 AM - MJP. Hard to choose just one and as you know the target moves with each experience and as time goes on. The wine that sticks in my head still is the 2016 MACDONALD when we did a vertical tasting a while back. That wine is set to be such a star in the future. The recent Harlan Estate I had was a game-changer too (though I favored the 2012 at the time), along with a 2016 Bryant that really surprised me with its level of focus and phenomenal skyscraper scaffolding. On the further end of the modern style, I've really loved the Tusk L'Orange (more so than the Tusk Estate in its current expression). The L'Orange needs some babying and isn't ready, but I see a lot of great potential there. Finally I have to plug the 2016 Kinsman Anjea simply because it was the best expression of Sleeping Lady I've ever had; it finally made me a believer in the potential that site has when in the proper hands. You have a favorite(s)?

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    6/2/21, 9:06 AM - Thank you for sharing Csimm. I'm loving the call as I have all of these wines except for L'Orange but do own the Estate Tusk. 16 was my first allocation of both MacDonald & Harlan. Loaded up on the Kinsman wines and hold a 3L. Totally agree on the Sleeping Lady.

    Wines you didn't mention. 16 VHR & the Blankiet line are up there for me. Along with the Abreu bottling which I've yet to try but assuming they'll be great. Need to go check my notes. Report back shortly.

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    6/2/21, 9:16 AM - I would like to add Eisele to that list. Right as the 18 allocation hits the inbox.

    16 J Daniel Cuvee, Spottswoode & Continuum are worth mentioned too.

  • csimm1161 commented:

    6/2/21, 9:23 AM - Nice plugs! I think anyone would have a difficult time arguing against any of those. I'm late to the game on Eisele in a broader sense, and now I don't know what exactly the transition has done for earlier vintages vs. recent (in terms of where my palate would best find optimum interest).

  • csimm1161 commented:

    6/2/21, 9:33 AM - MJP what is the release price on the Eisele?

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    6/2/21, 9:39 AM - So with that said I have yet to try a 16 Mac or Harlan. I only hold three bottles of each so I'm waiting for folks on here to say the time is now as you have on the 12 Harlan. I've had the 16 VHR multiple occasions and think it will be one I drink over the next 30 years. Abreu I'm sure will top the charts too.

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    6/2/21, 9:43 AM - Estate
    $230 375
    $450 750
    $920 1.5
    $95 375
    $180 750
    $380 1.5

  • csimm1161 commented:

    6/2/21, 10:29 AM - Thanks very much!

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