Sitting in St. Helena between David Abreu’s Capella Vineyard and Andy Beckstoffer’s Las Piedras Vineyard. Jim Barbour of Barbour Vineyard Management holds a long-term lease on this piece, so Matt had the ability to plant and manage this vineyard since its inception. Vineyards like this don't pop up often so we jumped on the whole 3.5 planted acres.
Our wines from Cemetery Vineyard
2019 Caterwaul ‘Cemetery Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
As much as we loved the 2018, this is a big step up from that first bottling. Vine maturity and vintage conditions get most of the credit for this improvement. This is a challenging site so every year should see better and better root development as the plants work their way down through mostly old creek bed cobble. The vineyard site can also see extreme heat being in the heart of St Helena but the cool-ish 2019 vintage saw very little dehydration anywhere in the valley. The high temperatures around Labor Day in 2017 forced us to declassify everything from Cemetery that year due to abbreviated hang time and lack of true development. In 2019, we were able to hang the fruit out as long as we wanted easily getting through the one heat event in September and making picking decisions based on flavor and tannin maturity. The resulting lots gave us plenty to choose from when we sat to finalize this blend. The 2019 is saturated black/purple all the way to the rim. Even the bubbles in the wine when you pour it are purple. The entire expression of the wine is very dark: chocolate, blackberries, black currants, cassis, black olive, cocoa and scorched earth run from the front of the wine to the back. Like a lot of wines on this soil type, there’s a nice balancing minerality, almost as if you can taste the rock in the vineyard. The tannins are abundant but perfectly ripe and help to buffer the dense, thick fruit profile. With all the best wines we make, there is a lot of everything present here but all in equal, balancing proportion.
2018 Caterwaul ‘Cemetery Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
After 5 years in the works, it’s nice to finally add this vineyard to the lineup. I was convinced there was no more great ground to be planted in Napa Valley until I saw this site with Matt in 2015. Having input on clonal material for every block further cemented interest in locking up all the fruit from this vineyard before it was even done with its first growing season. We made a little wine from here in 2017 but found it subpar for its own bottling. Waiting definitely feels wise now though as we begin cracking through our first few bottles of this inaugural release. The vintage complements this site well. The word that keeps coming to mind as I try this wine is amplitude. It’s so far above the Napa norm for Cabernet in color saturation, aromatic intensity and depth of flavor. There’s a great streak of minerality shooting through the whole experience that adds a sense of balance and restraint. The wine is pure black fruited showing notes of graphite, gunpowder, crushed rocks, violets and ripe blackberries. There is plenty of tannin here but it is perfectly ripe which helps to frame the finish without clipping it. It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about rolling out a first vintage of anything but I certainly expect this bottling to achieve the same heights as several of the best client wines that have come before it.
Stag’s Leap District has always had a stellar reputation for producing some of the best wines in Napa Valley.
Stags Leap District is a world-class site that can transcend many vintage related markers. Every year we have adjusted our small block within the Regusci Ranch adding and subtracting rows, partial rows, even individual plants to get the most consistent crop possible.
Our wines from Regusci
2019 Caterwaul ‘Regusci Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Stag’s Leap District has always had a stellar reputation for producing some of the best wines in Napa Valley. We’ve been enjoying a few bottles lately from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1978 vintage. The 1978 Cask 23 from earlier this year rivals any great older California Cabernet I have ever tasted, it was a revelation. 10 or so years ago though, it was hard to come up with more than a few great Stag’s Leap wines. I’m not sure exactly why, probably the combination of several factors (farming, consolidation, the decline of the original SLD generation) but the appellation felt like it was underachieving. That all started to change when a few new players moved in and everyone woke back up to the quality that had always been possible in Stag’s Leap. This was definitely one of the factors that led us to the Regusci Ranch (Matt’s father in law being Jimmy Regusci didn’t hurt either). Selecting a pristine center cut of clone 15 and then drilling down on making it as consistent as possible has improved this wine dramatically since its debut in 2014. The seamlessness of the 2019 is testament to the high quality nature of the farming at Regusci. The wine starts with savory notes of bay leaf, spice cake and incense. Black fruits dominate the palate complemented by cassis, black raspberry and dark chocolate. Acidity is always the balancing factor in Stag’s Leap with some of the lowest natural pHs in the Napa Valley. That acidity adds a cool blue fruited freshness to the finish making for a wine that has a weighty palate but one that isn’t heavy or tiresome. This will be a wine that drinks beautifully now but will easily go 20-30 years in the cellar.
2018 Caterwaul ‘Regusci Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
We continue to refine everything about this bottling. Every year we have adjusted our small block within the Regusci Ranch adding and subtracting rows, partial rows, even individual plants to get the most consistent crop possible. In an abundant year that also saw above average rainfall, it was easy to walk this block and see variations in vigor that could be flagged to capture an ideal crop load and berry size. Just as overly aggressive canopy can be a bad sign for quality so too can an anemic amount of green growth. We sought to put our arms around medium vigor vines featuring a healthy, productive canopy but with small, loose clusters. What we got from this carefully selected block is a wine with no hard edges, a wine that tastes like it came from a million identical berries. There is great density, richness, acidity and structure but all in equal proportion. This is new school Stag’s Leap opulence with notes of scorched earth, incense, spice cake and licorice. The fruit profile here leans more toward the cool blue fruit side balanced by the tannin inherent in the vintage. This wine is so drinkable now but should easily go 20-30 years based solely on its density.
2017 Caterwaul ‘Regusci Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
When comparing single vineyard wines across vintages, the ‘best’ years tend to be obvious. Obvious unless you are working with a world-class site that can transcend many vintage related markers. The Regusci Vineyard is one of those sites and other than the obvious youth of the 2017 Caterwaul Regusci Cabernet Sauvignon, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between this release and the superlative 2016. Incredible depth with juicy polished fruit and fine-grained tannin, this needs some time (Day 2 is the current sweet spot) but the quality and stuffing is apparent from the first sip. Best after 2021. The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Regusci Vineyard is a dense, powerful wine. Black cherry, plum, graphite, incense, bittersweet chocolate, lavender and cloves infuse the 2017 with tons of complexity and Stags Leap character. Readers should expect a dense, hedonistically opulent Napa Valley Cabernet. This is just superb. – Antonio Galloni, Jan. 2020
2016 Caterwaul ‘Regusci Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Regusci Vineyard is fabulous. Rich, inky and explosive, the 2016 possesses tremendous structure to play off the inky Stags Leap fruit. Crème de cassis, lavender, graphite, cloves, sage, white flowers and new French oak all run through this sumptuous, flamboyant Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2016 needs time for its tannins to soften, but it is tremendous, even in the early going. – Antonio Galloni, Dec. 2018
2015 Caterwaul ‘Regusci Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine that demands attention. Showy and voluptuous in the glass, the 2015 exudes richness in its inky fruit and overall soft contours. Crème de cassis, lavender, plum, violet and licorice shape this super-expressive, beautiful wine. As good as the 2014 is, the 2015 is shaping up to be even better. – Antonio Galloni, Oct. 2016
2014 Caterwaul ‘Regusci Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
A classic Stags Leap Cabernet, the 2014 exudes richness, power and depth. Graphite, crème de cassis, lavender, violets, chocolate and sweet spices infuse this beautifully expressive, sculpted Cabernet Sauvignon. Chocolate, inky black fruits and a dollop of new oak add the closing shades of nuance. The tannins need time to siften, but there is plenty to look forward to. The 2014 is gorgeous. It’s as simple as that. – Antonio Galloni, Oct. 2016
Each year, we set out to make vintage transparent wines from great vineyards.
This wine is a perfect example of our attempt to showcase all of Napa Valley in an affordable bottling.
With this Napa edition, we had the ability to grab barrels of wines that could have made $150+ blends but were simply too voluminous for their initial intention’s perceived demand.
Our wines from Napa Valley
2019 Caterwaul Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
In 2019, we finally wised up and grabbed every great bulk lot from within the family we had access to. The success of the 2018 gave us a lot of faith in what we were offering and the robust demand the market had for a stellar $50 Napa Cabernet. With this new found greediness and a vintage that wasn’t that much smaller than the one that preceded it, we were able to almost double case production in one year’s time. We also grabbed a little more fruit from Matt’s Pope Valley piece to keep the backbone intact across the two vintages. The barrels we grabbed from the family will always be kept confidential but they represent some of my most long standing and high profile clients. People have asked what we think the price of this wine would be if we weren’t committed to holding it at $50. The answer is of course highly subjective but I’d say it easily competes with most wines out there in the $95-$110 range. The nose is very dark fruited with blueberries, blackberries, cassis and some graphite. The tannins are perfectly ripe which provides a seamless transition from entry to middle and helps showcase the dark currant and plummy palate. The 2019 Napa finishes with some savory elements of sweet tobacco and grilled bread complemented by baking spices and cocoa that linger for a minute plus.
There was so much good wine to choose from in 2018, it was hard to know where to start. This wine has been and probably always will be a combination of lots made from Matt’s Pope Valley estate and barrels purchased from within my family of clients. The huge advantage here is we get to react to what we start with and then augment as necessary. With everything else, what you ferment is what you get and most qualitative steps forward come from subtraction instead of addition. With this Napa edition, we had the ability to grab barrels of wines that could have made $150+ blends but were simply too voluminous for their initial intention’s perceived demand. This 100 barrel blend comes from all over the valley encompassing 12 separate sub AVAs from Calistoga down to Stag’s Leap and across the hills from Diamond Mountain to Mt Veeder. It should give you a really good sense of how great 2018 is across all of Napa Valley. Dark purple all the way to the rim, the wine opens with aromas of creosote, blackberries, espresso roast and toast. Now fully recovered from bottling, it has picked up density and weight adding a rich blueberry core to the palate complemented by baker’s chocolate, tobacco and licorice. This is the $50 Napa Cabernet bottling we imagined offering when we started this project.
Each year, we set out to make vintage transparent wines from great vineyards. The 2017 Caterwaul Napa Cabernet Sauvignon not only captures the essence of the vintage, it is an incremental step up from the prior release. Notes of dark fruit and raspberry are immediately apparent upon pulling the cork and the palate is full and round, with a light coating of vintage defining tannin. In the near term, this needs a healthy decanting and the early window should open in early 2021. The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) is a fabulous wine in its peer group and price range. Rich, boisterous and flamboyantly ripe, the 2017 offers tons of immediacy. Super-ripe dark cherry and red plum fruit are pushed forward in this opulent, inviting Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Chocolate, new leather and spice punctuate the finish. This is one of the very best wines in its price range. – Antonio Galloni, Jan. 2020
2016 Caterwaul Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Caterwaul's 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) is a gorgeous wine and a stunning value. Black cherry, plum, chocolate, spice, leather and lavender all run through this sumptuous, beautifully ripe Cabernet Sauvignon. This mid-weight Cabernet Sauvignon hits all the right notes. And it’s a tremendous value to boot. – Antonio Galloni, Dec. 2018