2018 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Napa
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 triap 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 Errazuriz 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 Chateau Leoville-Barton and in Australia, now works full-time 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.
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.
The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is sensual and polished. Bright acids lend energy as this super-finessed Cabernet opens in the glass. Crushed red berry fruit, cedar, rose petal and mint all open with a bit of coaxing. The 2018 is going to need a number of years to be at its very best. It is elegant, nuanced and simply impeccable, but also a bit reticent at this stage. Readers who are familiar with these wines know they need time to come into their own. If that is not possible, I suggest opening it well in advance, even a day or two.
Wine Spectator 94
This throwback starts with an expressive mix of savory, menthol and tobacco notes followed by very racy red currant, damson plum and bitter cherry fruit. Licorice root and warm earth accents fill in on the finish, with an iron note piercing through at the end. This is seriously grippy, with an old-school, rugged personality. Not for everyone, but loaded with character. Needs time in the cellar to fully round into form. Best from 2027 through 2040.
USA, California, Napa
Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot, Cabernet franc and Petit Verdot
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