a full-bodied red
A full-bodied red, bold yet smooth with a hint of complexity around the edges: when it comes to wine, I’m no connoisseur—I just know what I like. I keep my wine fridge stocked with Napa Valley cabs and Super Tuscans, chilled to perfection. A sommelier friend once described cabernets as the “beach babes of the vineyard” because of their full flavor profile and easy drinkability, but an aged cabernet is something different altogether. If they are beach babes, they are the ones reading poetry and learning Italian as they sunbathe. Too sophisticated to show all their cards at once, the best cabs open up slowly, revealing new layers, greater depth and bigger boldness with each sip. In no particular order, here are the top five Napa Valley cabernets in my wine cellar right now:
Robert Mondavi Reserve: Mondavi might be Napa’s most well-known winemaker, but don’t let the popular name fool you; this is no commonplace cab. A unique vintage full of dark fruit and cedar with a subtle hint of spice, Modavi’s 1985 Reserve is my current bottle of choice. Be careful opening this one: the cork crumbles with age, and you want to give it plenty of time to decant to truly appreciate its subtle intricacies.
Cade: My go-to wine at my go-to restaurant in downtown Austin, Cade is best enjoyed alongside something as dense and rich as it is, like a petit filet or creme brûlée. With a silky texture and aromas of blueberry, vanilla bean and espresso, Cade is a classic Napa cabernet—elegant yet approachable.
Katherine Hall: This wine is liquid cashmere. Round rather than angular, Katherine Hall’s flavor hits every corner of your mouth at once. Give it another five minutes and it will do the same but with an entirely different flavor. An earthy start with a rich finish, Katherine Hall is my favorite pairing with anything from a rack of lamb to a buttery fish filet.
Opus One Overture: Just as an overture weaves a musical score together, this wine combines all of Opus’s best vineyard themes into a single, elegant chorus. Creamy and fruit-forward with a dark chocolate end note, Overture is the perfect result of its complex yet balanced Bordeaux heritage.
Dunn Family: Dunn family wines are known for their fireworks. A mid-palate explosive, these cabs are surprisingly rich and powerful. Best enjoyed with a big group of friends and a Partagas cigar around a bonfire on a beach somewhere tropical. (This is not a description. This is a magic formula. Try it and thank me later.)