Opus One

Premiere Napa Valley 2018: Our Favorites

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In February 2018, Charine and I participated in the Wine Writer’s Symposium in addition to Premiere Napa Valley 2018. We flew from Zagreb, Croatia to Detroit, MI to spend a little time with my family. We then chose to drive across I-80 from Michigan to Napa Valley in late winter. It was a long but scenic journey as you can see below.



After spending the week at the Wine Writer’s Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley, we took part in the tasting parties and auction tasting of Premiere Napa Valley. We attended the Spring Mountain AVA, Oakville AVA, and Stag’s Leap AVA tasting parties. Later in the week, we also attended the perspective tasting of 2013, 2014, and 2015 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon in addition to the online and live auction tasting.

If you would rather watch about the week at Premiere Napa Valley, check out the two videos below.



Here are our thoughts on the week (~9 minutes)


Choosing a selection of wines to recommend is really tough. We tasted a number of outstanding wines during the week. We chose to focus on wines that are available on the market instead of talking about the special lots in the auctions. For further recommendations, check out our articles on iconic Napa Cabernet Sauvignon in addition to our pieces on Harlan Estate and Bond Estate (coming soon).

Exotic Wine Travel’s Picks

(You can find out more about our scoring system on the WINE RATING page.)


  • Robert Mondavi, Fumé Blanc To Kalon Vineyard 2015

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The Robert Mondavi, Fumé Blanc To Kalon Vineyard has a small percentage of Semillon blended in. It is barrel fermented. This wine has crystalline flavors. A perfect amount of wood and lees flavors. Full of toast, stone fruit, mineral, vanilla, and grassy flavors. It’s full-bodied with a long finish and crisp on the palate.    4.3/5

  • Keenan, Chardonnay Spring Mountain 2015

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This is a delicious Chardonnay from Keenan. It’s barrel fermented in French and American oak. Full of lemon, melon, and vanilla flavors. It has great texture while being crisp at the same time. Long finish stretched out by the vibrant acidity.   4.2/5 

Keenan Chardonnay


  • Spring Mountain Vineyards, Sauvignon Blanc 2015

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The Spring Mountain Vineyards, Sauvignon Blanc is barrel fermented with a touch of Semillon added to it. This is bright and expressive. Full of bright peach, gas, and biscuit flavors. It has an oily texture and a long finish.   4.4/5



  • Antica, Fossino Rosé of Sangiovese Atlas Peak 2016

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This isn’t just a summer sipper, the Antica Fossino Rosé of Sangiovese serious rosé. While most rosé wines taste of strawberry, this wine is dominated by cherry flavors with a touch of citrus and watermelon. The yogurt flavor from the lees is complemented by mineral notes and a long finish.  4.2/5

Antica Fossino Rose



  • B Cellars, Erlich Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville 2014

Find or buy on Wine-Searcher.

The B Cellars, Erlich Vineyard is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Vineyard is in the heart of the Oakville AVA. This is big, ripe, and round. It’s full of dark fruit, tobacco, and oak. The wine is extremely silky on the palate with a long finish. Built for pleasure now but will age gracefully in the medium term.   4.6/5 

  • Vine Hill Ranch, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 

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The Vine Hill Ranch, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 is dark, dense, and rich. The fruit of this wine comes from Oakville and is aged in 100% New French Oak. Flavors include dark fruit, plum, capsicum, and tobacco – oak integration is flawless. Highly structured and round on the palate, it drinks well for such a young Cabernet.   4.7/5

Vine Hill Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon


  • Sherwin Family Vineyards, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

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The Sherwin Family Vineyards, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is made with fruit exclusively from the family’s 16-acre plot on Spring Mountain. This is floral, leafy, and herbal on the nose while being more fruit driven on the nose. Its round and creamy on the palate with developed tannins for such a young wine. It’s big but not over the top. A wine to drink now or age for a few years.   4.4/5

  • Odette, Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2015

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The Odette, Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District is 100% Cab packaged in a screw cap top! Beautiful wine with dark fruit, brambleberry, and plum. Plush and round with a graphite finish. The tannins are smooth and refined allowing this to drink well for such a young wine.   4.5/5

Odette Cabernet Sauvignon


  • Opus One 2014

Find or buy on Wine-Searcher.

The Opus One 2014 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, with small amounts of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec. This wine has a ton of character, it’s expressive at such a young age. Full of violets, black fruit, tobacco, and sweet cedar. It is round on the palate and big bodied with sweet tannins. This is a vintage that drinks great right out of the gate.   4.7/5

  • Clos Du Val, Three Graces 2015

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Three Graces is the flagship wine from Clos Du Val. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. This is red fruit driven with raspberry, cherry, and capsicum flavor. Medium bodied red that is bright and expressive. Chalky tannins and a long finish.    4.6/5

Clos Du Val Three Graces


  • Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, SLV Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

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The new vintage of the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, SLV (Stag’s Leap Vineyard) Cabernet Sauvignon is flat out gorgeous. It’s 100% Cabernet Sauvignon full of violet, herb, and black cherry flavors. It has dusty tannins and a firm finish. The mouthfeel is velvety and the finish has a touch of orange peel.   4.6/5

  • Pine Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2014

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The Pine Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2014 is aged in 100% new French oak. This wine has all the wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon flavors of cassis, capsicum, and tobacco. This wine is opulent yet elegant at the same time. Round mouthfeel with a lot of texture. Big, chewy, and sweet tannins. This can be had around 60 USD, which is a steal for high-quality Napa Cabs.   4.4/5

Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District


  • Ghost Block, Zinfandel Pelissa Vineyard 2016

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Serious Zinfandel from Ghost Block, this bottling is aged for 12 months in American oak. This is not just jammy and fruity. It has finesse on the nose and the palate. Red and dark fruit flavors are accompanied by intense herbal notes. Silky tannins and a long finish make for a great drinking experience.  4.3/5


  • Matthiasson Ribolla Gialla 2014

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Steve Matthiason is a guy that’s not afraid to experiment. This Ribolla Gialla was kept on the skins for two weeks. Full of orange peel, apricot, and nutty flavors. It’s true to the variety. Full bodied and clean orange wine with small tannins. Very solid effort by Steve Mathiasson. Drinking this makes us think about our days in the Collio hills of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.   4.3/5 

Matthiasson Ribolla Gialla


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The opinions expressed in this article are unsolicited and have not been paid for in any way by governmental bodies, enterprises, or individuals. We do not sell editorial content as that would destroy the legitimacy of our reviews and the trust between Exotic Wine Travel and its readers

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