3. Justin Vineyards & Winery Isosceles (Central Coast, Paso Robles) -Justin and Deborah Baldwin were the original proprietors who bought their property in Adelaida Valley in 1981, but the winery is now owned by Roll Global. Their primary focus is on the Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. My favorite of their lineup has always been the Isoceles, which usually contains from 70 to 85% Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Right Bank inspired wine is Justification, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Fred Holloway, formerly of Kendall-Jackson Artisanal Estates, is currently in charge of production.
Rich blackberry and black fruit nose; very tasty, blackberry, cassis, vanillin oak palate; medium-plus finish. 93+ points
Plush berry and plum nose; poised, tight, cassis and berry palate; medium-plus finish (86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot). 93 points
Rich, sexy, cassis, blackberry nose; tight but tasty, cassis, plum palate; medium finish (79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot; 18 months in 34% new French oak). 92+ points
4. Realm Cellars The Bard (Napa Valley) - Realm was launched in 2002 by Juan Mercado and Wendell Laidley. The winemaking team is Benoit Touquette and Michel Rolland. The Bard is their Left Bank inspired blend dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon from a blend of vineyard sites throughout Napa Valley.
Bricking, opaque red violet color; intense, blackberry, berry, lavender nose; tight, plush, blackberry, berry, mulberry palate; long finish (90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot). 93+ points
5. Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian (Napa Valley, Oak Knoll) - Blackbird Vineyard was planted to Merlot in 1997, and its fruit originally sold to a variety of producers. In 2003, Michael Polenske purchased the 10-acre property and launched Blackbird Vineyards as a premium label for Bordeaux blends, based on the estate Merlot and Bordeaux varieties sourced from other vineyards. The talented Aaron Pott is the winemaker. The Contrarian is their Right Bank inspired offering, based primarily on Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Very dark red violet color; poised, ripe currant, light coffee, tart blackberry, tart black fruit nose; plush, tight, silky textured, tart blackberry, tart black fruit, tart cassis, tart raspberry palate with polished, sweet tannins; accessible now; medium-plus finish (38% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon). 93 points