Wine Advocate Issue 228
2013 Pahlmeyer "Piece de Resistance" Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Pièce De Résistance is a selection of the five best barrels in the wine cellar, aged in 100% Taransaud cooperage. The first perfect score I’ve given to Pahlmeyer – but highly deserving – this is a masterpiece of gorgeous crème de cassis, blackberry liqueur, forest floor, camphor, charcoal and white flowers, magnificent concentration, wonderfully subtle oak, and a finish of close to a minute. In short, Cabernet Sauvignon rarely gets any better than this, but latching onto a bottle or two will not be easy. Drink it over the next 30-40 years.
2013 Pahlmeyer "Raison d'Etre" Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Vineyard Napa Valley
Nearly its match is the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Raison d’Etre, a blend of 100% estate fruit consisting of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. There is more of this to go around the country – 200 cases. There is not much difference in power, massive extract, richness, length and profound aromatics and flavors, as this is just a prodigious wine. Perhaps the dosage of Merlot gives this more chocolate and espresso than the Pièce De Résistance, but it is a stunningly big, thick, juicy wine that somehow maintains balance and delineation. Drink it over the next 35+ years.
2013 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Napa Valley
An absolute stunner is the 2013 Proprietary Red Wine, a blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 6% Malbec and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. This is all mountain fruit from primarily the Stagecoach Vineyard and another site in Rancho Chimiles. Beautiful floral, smoky, blackcurrant notes mixed with acacia flowers and forest floor jump from the glass of this dense, full-bodied, concentrated and age-worthy wine. Like most 2013s, this is a 30-year wine with remarkable concentration, color and fruit extract. Forget it for another 3-4 years, and drink it over the following 30+ years.
2013 Pahlmeyer Merlot Napa Valley
An absolute epic wine is the 2013 Merlot, a blend of 95% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Petit Verdot. It is no wimpy wine either, with the natural alcohol slightly north of 15%. A gorgeous nose including roasted espresso, melted black chocolate, blackberry, plum and cassis offers an exceptional set of aromatics. The wine has beautiful ripeness, headiness and a long finish of close to 45+ seconds. This is a beauty of terrific purity, texture and personality. Few California Merlots will ever be capable of equaling this. Drink it over the next 25-30+ years.
2013 Pahlmeyer Malbec Estate Vineyard Napa Valley
The 2013 Pahlmeyer Estate Vineyard Malbec has that rather kinky blueberry and floral note with licorice, incense, grapefruit on the attack and a long, long finish. It is a winner, if you love Malbec.
2014 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Napa Valley
The 2014 Proprietary Red Wine is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec, again, showing slightly less depth than its two surrounding siblings, but beautiful pure fruit, silky, velvety tannins, a layered mouthfeel and deep blackcurrant and black cherry fruit intermixed with cedar wood, fruitcake and smoky oak. This is a terrific wine as well and it will be the fastest out of the gate in terms of evolution – drinking beautifully for the next 15+ years.
2014 Pahlmeyer Merlot Napa Valley
The 2014 Merlot is a blend of 94.5% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot and Malbec. It has a dense purple color, although not as saturated as the 2015 or 2013, with a beautiful fruited nose of blackberry, plum, chocolate, mocha and espresso. The aromatics are killer and then the wine hits the palate with a medium to full-bodied lushness and an expression that says, “Kiss me!” This is a delicious, front-end loaded, full-bodied Merlot to drink over the next 15 or so years.
2015 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Napa Valley
The proprietary red wine blend has always been dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, but includes other Bordeaux varieties as well. It is kept 22-24 months in 100% new oak. The 2015 Proprietary Red Wine, a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and the rest Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, has super-concentration, a massive mouthfeel, heady, intense flavors of black and blue fruits, chocolate, wood spice and barbecue notes. It is a killer effort, and as so many of the 2015s, another magnificent vintage for Northern California. Drink 2018-2038.
2015 Pahlmeyer Merlot Napa Valley
There are few truly profound Merlots being made in California, but Pahlmeyer has consistently made some of the best. I still have some that are 20+ years old and aging magnificently. I suspect that the last three vintages that they made were better than anything I bought 20+ years ago. The 2015 Merlot is 100% Merlot, but the crop level was off by 50%-60% because of the horrendous flowering that makes 2015 a relatively tiny crop in both Napa and Sonoma. This is a big, fleshy, rather hefty and chewy style of Merlot with loads of chocolate, blackberry, cassis, extraordinary opulence, voluptuous texture (as you might expect) and terrific ripeness without going over the edge. This should drink well young, but age effortlessly for 20-25 years.
2015 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay Napa Valley
The 2015 Chardonnay, which comes from both Old Wente and Dijon clones, is off the estate property on Atlas Peak. It has that noteworthy greenish hue to its light-gold color, which I consider a high-sign of quality. Orange blossom, tangerine oil, mango, subtle smoky wood, a full-bodied texture, terrific purity and acidity, great fruit and a long, long finish are the stuff of great California Chardonnay. This cuvée also has a phenomenal track record for aging for at least 7-10 years, and in certain vintages even longer.