Rivers-Marie 2018 Panek Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Our first ten vintages at Panek we worked with the same five blocks, one acre parcels of clones 4, 6, 7, 169 and 337. These five front blocks at Panek were all planted in 2006 and have been cane pruned since their inception. We always felt fortunate to have this much high-quality fruit to select from when finalizing the Panek blend every year. In 2018, the Panek family offered us the whole ranch, turning over the three older vine, cordon trained blocks in the back of the property. Not knowing quite what to expect, we vinified and barreled these separately. These naturally lower yielding parcels produced wines of enormous concentration and color. As we sat down to blend, we realized all of these wines were of single vineyard quality, some were even better than most of the blocks we had been working with the last ten years. Eventually we singled out a small block of clone 191 as the most logical addition to the 2018 Panek blend. This block added a tremendous amount of structure to the wine, something that is occasionally lacking from this site. It also darkened the fruit profile pushing the wine from a red/black profile to the a more purple/black expression. The vineyard signature is still there of course but feels fuller and more impactful. Purple flowers, graphite, cassis and smoke jump out of the glass at first inspection. The texture is more layered this year, due in part to both the vintage and the inclusion of a new block from the vineyard. The palate turns very stony early and then veers to blueberries, dark chocolate and some meaty, iron notes as the finish kicks in. I thought we had taken this about as far as we could with the 2016 but the 2018 is at another level.