What a treat. On a recent visit to Napa, we go to walk the vineyards with Alex MacDonald and learn so much about this venerated vineyard and hear about the "newer" winemaking at MacDonald. And to top it off, we got to try the recently bottled 2017 Cabernet (not yet released). The story is worth Googling , but the short version is that at the heart of the To Kalon Vineyard in Napa are some very old Cabernet Sauvignon vines. They have been owned by the MacDonald family since 1954. These have been used in the top Mondavi wines since before there was even a Mondavi Winery. Due to some copyright restrictions, the MacDonald brothers (Alex and Graeme) can not use the name To Kalon. But, they get the pick of the oldest vines and best grapes. Some of the vines are 60 years old, yet amazingly virile and healthy. Hopefully, there will be an article on this winery on this site soon. For now, another tasting note will have to suffice.
The 2017 had been decanted for about 8 hours prior to us trying it. It is purple in color with some deep ruby swirls. The nose is open and very nice. It is big but more in an elegant way. Black cherries, cassis, slight cigar box with underlying char. There is a slight amount of oak (fresh lumber) showing at this age but seemed to integrate quickly in the glass. On the palate, this is surprisingly soft yet with medium tannins. Fresh and lively black cherry fruit with a bit of black licorice. Very nice balance. Long finish. This outshone a 2014 consumed the prior night (note is posted on this site) as it was more accessible and bigger flavors although the 2014 was a bit shut down. They make less than 400 cases and have a waiting list of almost 5,000. Still, this is one to sign up for and hope for the best. It is so young a range would likely be more accurate than a score, but that would be 95-99!