(Originally published for The Pipe and Pint)
Today we are going to vary it up a bit in our regular Napa Icon Series. While we have focused entirely on cult wines so far, in this post we are actually going to have a look at a specific vineyard instead (and a wine that is sourced exclusively from that vineyard). But not just any vineyard. The To Kalon vineyard in the Oakville District in Napa Valley is rightfully considered to be the most iconic source of grapes in California, consistently producing some of Napa’s most phenomenal and critically acclaimed wines. Named for the Greek to kalon “the beautiful”, the vineyard was first established in the late 1860s by Henry W. Crabb. Once consisting of around 360 acres of vines, today it is owned by three parties, Robert Mondavi Winery, Opus One and grower Andy Beckstoffer. While Mondavi and Opus One source the To Kalon grapes primarily for their own wines, it is the roughly 89 acres that are owned by Andy Beckstoffer that have truly reached cult status since some of Napa’s most prestigious wineries such as Paul Hobbs, Schrader and Alpha Omega buy grapes from Andy and produce a single vineyard Beckstoffer To Kalon designated wine.
There is something very magical about the predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes sourced from To Kalon. Naturally, the select few producers that buy To Kalon fruit know how to make excellent wines but the fact that no other vineyard regularly produces as many perfect scoring wines as To Kalon speaks for the location at least as much as it does for the producers. The 2014 vintage alone featured four wines rated 100 points by critic Robert Parker. But as with everything, quality and cult status has a price. While wineries buy high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on average for about $6000 per ton, Andy Beckstoffer is able to charge at least 10 times as much and more. But oh, it is so worth it.
A great example is the 2012 Paul Hobbs Winery Beckstoffer To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon. Paul Hobbs Winery is actually one of the first producers to have made a single vineyard Cabernet sourced exclusively from To Kalon and the wine consistently ranks among the best and rarest Cabernet Sauvignons from all of California. It’s a beautiful wine that really showcases the incredible characteristics of the vineyard. Opulent, intense yet incredibly balanced and velvety smooth with Cabernet Sauvignon typical aromas of blueberry, blackberry and graphite accompanied by beautiful vanilla and lavender undertones. Paul Hobbs really knows how to make the best of the To Kalon grapes. Only about 600 cases of this wine are produced annually and you are lucky if you can get your hands on a bottle. See for yourself what the magic of Beckstoffer To Kalon is all about.