When Xavier Cervantes was scouting properties in Napa, he looked in all the usual hallowed ground for vineyards: Oakville, Rutherford, Pritchard Hill. The Mexico City entrepreneur got close — in escrow — twice, once with a property on Atlas Peak, once on Howell Mountain. Both fell through at the 11th hour.
It took seven years, but after exhausting all other possibilities, Cervantes finally purchased an 1,100-acre ranch in the far eastern reaches of Napa County, the edge of the county’s viable viticultural land: Pope Valley.
Cervantes’ estate, which he calls Hine Ranch, hired Howard Backen (Harlan, Kenzo, Cliff Lede) to build a winery, a tractor barn, two homes and an equestrian center, and Andy Erickson (Ovid, Dalla Valle, Arietta, Screaming Eagle, etc.) to make the wines.
“For me, it’s like a fairy tale,” Cervantes says. In a bolero hat and cowboy boots, the real estate developer — who also owns Calahua, the world’s second-largest producer of coconut cream — looks the part of the frontiersman. And Hine, where wild deer and turkeys roam, has the feeling of an uncharted, feral frontier.
Cervantes MMXVI Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – 96+ Points
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Robert Parker 96+ Points: “A blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2016 MMXVI Cabernet Sauvignon gives up gregarious notions of warm red and black currants, black raspberries and warm plums with hints of chocolate mint, pencil shavings, and tilled loam plus a waft of lilacs. Full-bodied, firm and grainy, the palate is built like a brick house with super ripe, super firm tannins and bags of bold, expressive, multifaceted fruit, finishing very long and mineral-laced.”
Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points: “Even better, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is built for the long-haul, revealing a deep purple color as well as full-bodied notes of gravelly earth, bouquet garni, chocolate, and ample dark fruits. Concentrated, beautifully balanced, and with a great mid-palate, it packs plenty of power while staying elegant and seamless. It’s a beautiful wine any way you look at it. Based on 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot, made by Andy Erickson, it’s going to benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age and keep for two decades.”
Winemaker Andy Erickson Notes: “The resulting wine has an ever-growing list of aromas, from raspberry and sage to cardamom, orange peel, cedar, black licorice, and newly tanned leather. The longer the wine sits in the glass, the more layers are revealed. The wine’s brilliant red-purple hue hints at its dense fruit core, which is followed on the palate by a rush of baking spices, incense, orange oil, and completed by a mouthwatering, savory finish. It has “great bones,” a proper tannic scaffold to support the wine as it ages. While accessible now with a careful decanting, the 2016 Cervantes will continue its beautiful journey and gain complexity over many years to come.”