Napa Diary Day 18: A European Aesthetic at Kapcsándy

Discretion starts right at the front door. The property is identified only by a street number, and a small notice saying, ‘this is not Goosecrest cellars.’ Under the name of State Lane Vineyard, it was originally a family farm providing wine to Beringer for the Private Reserve from 1975 to 1991. The vineyard became infected with phylloxera, and the owners decided to sell; Lou Kapcsándy, a passionate collector of Bordeaux, purchased the estate in 2000. The property is a single block of 20 acres, with the Yountville Cross Road and Napa River as borders. The 15 acres planted with vines are divided into 15 blocks with different soil types. The first wine was made in 2003 and the first commercial release was 2005.

The winery is surrounded by vineyards between Yountville Cross Road and the Napa River.

The wines are all based on Bordeaux varieties, except for the one white, a Furmint based on vines that came from Tokaj, a hommage to Lou’s origins (he left Hungary in 1956). Each of the four reds has a core block as its main source, and other sources vary with the year. The Estate Cuvée has been a blend since 2005 (two vintages were 100% Cabernet Sauvignon). “This is the representation of the estate.” The first vintage of Rhapszodia was 2010. It started as a 50:50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and then the Merlot was steadily reduced until it effectively became a Cabernet Franc varietal in 2015. Roberta’s Reserve is usually a blend, but has sometimes been 100% Merlot, coming from blocks along the river where there is more clay. The Grand Vin is the top Cabernet Sauvignon.

The house style is quite reserved. Each of the cuvées shows the characteristic flavor spectrum of its principal (or sole) varietal with its supporting structure almost imperceptibly integrated. Cabernet Franc shows purity, Merlot shows more roundness, Cabernet Sauvignon is structured. Each is a textbook for its type, within the context of the power of Napa. All could be drunk not too long after release, but will benefit from some time to develop.

Tasting Notes

2017 Estate Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon (Cabernet Sauvignon 89%, Merlot 8%, Petit Verdot 3%)
Quite reserved aromatics on the black fruit nose, quite a stern impression on the palate, with a slightly crisp edge and a touch of asperity, not quite bitterness, on the finish. Blackberry fruits dominate the palate with a touch of asperity, and you see the freshness, even a touch of salinity. All this gives the impression of a broader-based blend than it really is. 14.2%    90 Drink 2022-2034
2015 Rhapszodia Cabernet Franc
Reserved nose is still rather dumb. Nice purity of fruits, makes an unusually elegant impression for Napa Valley, with well-delineated black fruits of ripe Cabernet Franc. Silky tannins are barely evident on finish, perhaps there is a very faint hint of tobacco, before the tannins kick in to show some bitter chocolate and dryness at the end. The palate is moving towards minerality with some cooler-climate impressions. You could drink this now but personally I would wait a year or two. 14.4%    2 Drink -2033
2014 Roberta’s Reserve Merlot (Merlot 97%, Cabernet Franc 3%)
Greater roundness to the nose than in the Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc cuvees, slowly releasing black fruit aromatics. Smooth palate shows some flavor variety in what is certainly a reserved style for Merlot; in fact, you might say the house reserve is coming through. Nice sense of delineation to the fruits, although the palate is broader than the Cabernet Franc of Rhapszodia. Tannins are supple on the finish, and you can see the structural support, although there’s no overt bitterness. This is an unusually pure impression of Merlot. 14.4%    92 Drink -2034

2014 Grand Vin Cabernet Sauvignon (Cabernet Sauvignon 95%, Merlot 5%)
Quite reserved nose shows hints of blackberries. Sweeter and riper impressions than the Merlot or Cabernet Franc varietals, overall more forthcoming. Black fruits are cut by almost crisp acidity. The structure is well integrated, tannins are firm but not obvious, with just a faint touch of bitter chocolate on the finish. This needs time, not so much for tannins to resolve but to let flavor variety develop. 13.9%    94 Drink -2040