2014 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon Tanbark Hill
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.
Tanbark Hill Cabernet Sauvignon offers a nice introduction to the Togni style. All fruit is farmed from the Spring Mountain estate and is vinified in the same method as their flagship wine. The Tanbark Hill vineyard is a separate part of the estate cascading down the hill on the North side. Because the exposure is significantly different than the main vineyard it ripens later it was designated from the beginning to go into the separate label. It is a significantly smaller block so Tanbark Hill is always a smaller release than the Philip Togni Cabernet. Devotees of the Togni style know that he will always side with quality over quantity.
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
"Classicist Phillip Togni's second wine, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Tanbark HIll Vineyard displays classic creme de cassis, cedar wood and underbrush in a medium-bodied, nicely textured style. There's plenty of fruit, the tannins are ripe, and the wine is a dense ruby purple in color. Drink it over the next 10-15 years.
I have Phillip Togni's vintages going back to the mid-1980's, and thes are truly long-lived classics of Napa Valley. As I have written many times, one of the greatest Napa Cabernet Sauvignons I have ever tasted was one made by Phillip Togni while working at Chappellet. His wines definitely stand the test of time, although sometimes they are a bit rugged and unapproachable in their youth." Robert Parker
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