Clos du Val built their foundation like many Napa wineries did in the 1970s, with the great, noble Cabernet Sauvignon grape. According to the winery, the “crown jewel” of their estate program is the Hirondelle Vineyard located in the Stags Leap District. The vineyard spans 100 acres and is planted to nine different Cabernet Sauvignon Clones.

Stag’s Leap’s place along the valley floor gets love from the sun and cooling breezes from the San Pablo Bay, which means grapes plush tannins but also a vibrant acidity. This is probably why — as you’ll see in my notes — Clos du Val is able to craft an age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon that is also completely approachable now.

About the Wine: The Clos du Val 2015 Hirondelle Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes harvested from Clos du Val’s Hirondelle Estate Vineyards located in the Stags Leap District sub-AVA of California’s Napa Valley AVA. The grapes were fermented in 100% stainless steel tanks, undergoing pumpovers three times daily. The wine aged in 100% French oak barrels (60% new).

14.1% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork of the Clos du Val 2015 Hirondelle Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and breathe in unctuous aromas of plums, prunes, and chocolate. This Napa Cab presents itself quite dark and inky on the pour, settling into the glass thick, oozing with and old-blood-like shade of maroon — shiny, yet impenetrable.

Initial aromas are of fresh oak wood, black plums, and definitely chocolate. Swirl (it needs a good swirl), and open up some fruits like boysenberry and marionberry and just a hint of bell pepper. There’s an underlying herbaceousness — perhaps some spearmint?

The palate of the Clos du Val 2015 Hirondelle Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is full with sandpaper-like tannins — but note they are very light. There’s an awesome acidity that enlivens the tastebuds, breaks apart those tannins, and gives a fun and warm kick of a finish. Dominant flavors are of oak wood, black cherry, a breath of anise, a hint of cola, subtle bell pepper notes, a bit of tartness (like from a raspberry), and — yes — that bit of chocolate. The finish is warm with brown spices, like dried and powdered cumin and coriander. There’s a slight dryness around the cheeks, but the tastebuds are on high-alert from that lively acidity.

NOTE: If drinking this wine now — and it is completely approachable now — I recommend letting it breathe for at least 30 mins prior to enjoying. This wine does have an aging potential for 10+ years, in my opinion.

Food Pairing: I paired the Clos du Val 2015 Hirondelle Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon with a vegetable bowl: quinoa base, wilted arugula, sautéed mushroom and onions, boca meat, all sprinkled with parmesan cheese. So whoever told you Napa Cabernets were for meat lovers only…well you just send them my way and I’ll prove them wrong.

The peppery-ness of the arugula played up the fruits and anise flavors; the boca meat highlighted the plushy comfort of those tannins; the earthiness of the mushrooms along with the heat of the black pepper seasoning brought out that decadent chocolate note.

My only edit to this was the cheese. I would do this exact dish again, sprinkling a funky blue cheese in place of the parm. And that, my friends, would be perfection.

More Info: I received the Clos du Val 2015 Hirondelle Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon as a sample for review. Price: $120. (Cheers Ben!) For more information about Clos du Val, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Clos du Val website.

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