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November 07, 2016

Cardinale Proprietary Red 2012

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It has been well documented that the 2012 & 2013 vintages in Napa are back to back legends. We have released the greatest 2013s from Napa throughout the year and just a handful of iconic Estates remain, of which Cardinale Proprietary Red is a key feature. Cardinale 2013 is expected to release sometime in November, however, we are expecting a considerable jump in price. As such, we are delighted to revisit the superior 2012; the lowest priced vintage and joint highest scoring effort of the Estate’s history.

Cardinale is a limited production blend of the four leading Single Vineyards of Lokoya; Mount Veeder, Howell Mountain, Spring Mountain and Diamond Mountain. The fact that these scored 100, 99, 98 & 96 points respectively meant that the Cardinale always had huge promise for 2012 and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Parker lauds the ‘enormous complexity and richness as well as full-bodied power and voluptuousness’. He goes on to say ‘It is a wine of exceptional purity, intensity, and well-integrated acidity, alcohol, tannin and wood.’ High praise indeed. Similarly to the tiny production of Lokoya, Cardinale make just 1,300 cases in a good vintage so supply is very low for this wine, while demand is ever growing.

As this stock was secured from the US before we the considerable swing in currency, we are delighted to offer the 98 point Cardinale 2012 at the price of just £800 in bond, 10% below the market. To put this into perspective, the lesser scoring 2013 has already released in the US at over £1,200 per six bottle case. While we can’t be certian what price it will be in the UK next month, we can expect it to be closer to the US market price, if not higher. Furthermore, since the 2012 was secured at a much lower exchange rate, this will also be the last opportunity to buy this vintage before we see another significant price rise. As demonstrated in the table below, Cardinale 2012 is the joint highest scoring effort and trades £500 lower than the 98 point 2005. We also have a few of the very rare magnums available at £350 IB per magnum.

Vintage Parker Price POP
2013 96 £1,220 153
2012 98 £800 89
2011 91 £900 164
2010 96 £1,000 125
2009 93+ £900 133
2008 96 £1,000 125
2007 94 £1,050 150
2006 94+ £1,200 166
2005 98 £1,300 144

Cardinale is owned by the Jackson Family of Lokoya and Verité fame in California, but who are known across the globe as one of the largest family-run businesses in the wine world, committed to producing wines of un-matched character and quality. With many of the family raised among the vines in California, it is no wonder that they produce some of the State’s finest wines.

The stone building of Cardinale’s winery sits atop a knoll in Napa’s infamous Oakville district, commanding panoramic views of the valley. The Veeder Park and Keyes vineyards, found in the acclaimed Mount Veeder and Howell Mountain AVAs make up the backbone of the blend, but with the exact composition varying to best suit the vintage. Cardinale is, therefore, more than just one wine – its signature arises from a blend to make a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The winemaker, Chris Carpenter, sees Napa as a patchwork of distinct microclimates, soils, and terrains, that each impart an individual character to the grapes grown in them, as well as his role as composing them into a symphonic, harmonious whole. In fact, Chris passionately refers to Cardinale as an orchestra, his vineyards the instruments and himself the composer.

The final blend of the 2012 is composed of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Merlot and the wine spends 20 months in 93% new French Oak. As the Proprietary Red is the only wine produced by Cardinale each year, it is the sole focus of Carpenter’s expertise and passion, creating a wine that is quintessentially Napa.

Cardinale Proprietary Red 2012, 6x75cl, £800 – 98 Points, Robert Parker

Cardinale’s 2012 Proprietary Red, the flagship wine from the Jackson Family, was looked after and put-together by winemaker Chris Carpenter from numerous vineyard sites traversing Napa Valley. The 2012′s final blend was 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Merlot with 94% new French oak used. Terroirists undoubtedly lament the fact that nine different vineyards and seven different appellations were utilized, but the resulting wine is prodigious. A dense purple color is accompanied by notes of graphite, blackberries, blackcurrants, roasted coffee, vanillin, baking spices and forest floor. With enormous complexity and richness as well as full-bodied power and voluptuousness, it is a wine of exceptional purity, intensity, and well-integrated acidity, alcohol, tannin and wood. This seamless, majestic Napa Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated 2012 should drink well for two decades.