2014 Philip Togni Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Philip Togni (pronounced Ton-yee) descended from an Italian Swiss family and was raised in England. A geology engineer, he started his career with Shell prospecting for oil overseas. That all changed when he visited Jerez during a trip to Spain; he fell in love with wine and realized it was his calling. Acting on the advice of famous enologist, Maynard Amerine, he studied at Montpellier School of Agriculture, completing his enology degree in Bordeaux under Emile Peynaud. While in Bordeaux he worked for Alexis Lichine and made the '56 vintage at 2nd Growth Chateau Lascombes in Margaux, a defining point in his career. After a year making wine for Errázuriz in Chile, Togni could not resist the lure of California and relocated in 1958.
After a brief stint at Mayacamas Vineyards, he was recruited to start Chalone. He then joined Chappellet, where he made one of Napa's greatest wines, the '69 Chappellet. He moved on again to become the first winemaker at Cuvaison. In the late '70s, Philip and his wife Birgitta decided to pursue their vision for a Margaux-styled Napa Cabernet that expresses its site. They bought a property on Spring Mountain with ideal conditions—high elevation above the inversion layer, well draining soils and excellent southern aspect and a very small scale—just 10 acres planted.
The first vintage of Philip Togni Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was in 1983; then as now, the wines are classic vins-de-garde designed to age gracefully and blossom with time. Philip’s daughter Lisa, herself an accomplished winemaker with experience at Château Léoville-Barton and in Australia, now works fulltime alongside him and plans to maintain the Togni style. While many Napa wineries spend fortunes to develop state of the art gravity-fed winemaking facilities, Togni's are old-school, featuring nondescript structures cascading down the hill. The fruit starts at the top and works its way toward the aging cellar at the bottom. All work is done by the Tognis and a small crew. The entire estate can be picked in 4 days, enabling them to produce great wines even in tough vintages.
Those who think Robert Parker only praises massive extracted wines will be surprised that he has always loved Togni's wines, which have never exceeded 14% (they do not publish the alcohol percent on the label because they were “grandfathered in” before the law changed and are bottled as ‘Table Wine'). Parker includes Togni among just 23 US wineries in his book, “The World’s Greatest Wine Estates”. The wines have received countless accolades, including winning a reenactment of The Judgment of Paris in Brussels, where Philip Togni Vineyard Cabernet ranked first, ahead of Latour, Margaux, Haut-Brion, Mouton and esteemed Napa producers.
Rated 94-97 points by VINOUS: `The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is wonderfully savory and mineral, with a host of graphite, liquefied rock, floral and dark stone fruit notes that open up in the glass. Energetic, crystalline and beautifully focused throughout, the 2014 exudes class from the very first taste. Stylistically, it is a bit less generous than the 2013 was at the same stage in its life. This hypothetical blend is every bit as striking as the individual component lots suggested when I tasted them this past spring. Philip Togni adds that a larger than normal crop stretched out the harvest. Today, the 2014 is shaping up to be another uber-classic wine from Togni.` -- Antonio Galloni in VINOUS, October 2015
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