Ian Cauble’s Review

“This inaugural vintage was small, roughly 500 cases, and is only available direct from the winery. With tremendous density, texture and near perfect balance, this modern style of Napa Cabernet competes with the great cult names of Napa many times its price point. Truly exquisitely crafted, what Ralph Hertelendy has achieved with his first vintage is nothing short of spectacular and we do not anticipate this bespoke wine holding at this price for very long. This is, without question, one of the best modern examples of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon we have tasted in quite some time and can easily hold its own in the brass ring of Napa’s superstars.

Ralph Hertelendy, a passionate winemaker in his mid-30’s, started his career with aspirations of becoming a sommelier. After passing the first level with the Court of Masters, he realized his passion morphed towards winemaking. He crafted his first wine in his Oakland basement in 2006. After securing Phillip Corallo-Titus, winemaker for Chappellet, as his “Jedi Master” and consultant, he set out to craft today’s inaugural Napa Cabernet and the result is simply breathtaking. A Hungarian-American, Ralph spent two years crafting the beautiful label that graces this bottle. He modernized his Hungarian family’s coat of arms and fashioned the swan into a spread eagle as a nod to America. The outcome is magnificent inside and outside the bottle. His family story is equally incredible. Ralph’s parents each fled their home countries due to communism in the mid-20th century. His father caught the last boat out of Europe in June of 1940. Growing up with a Hungarian father and a Chinese mother, Ralph developed an ear for language early on. He is fluent in five languages, which has deepened his understanding of the world of wine on his vast travels.

He channeled his life experiences, knowledge, and enthusiasm into something truly special with this wine. Derived from special parcels along the Vaca Range including Howell Mountain, Silverado Foothills, and Atlas Peak, Ralph feels the hillside fruit lends more complexity and character than the valley floor. The pristine harvest is meticulously double sorted before crush. The final blend includes 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec. All of the base wines each underwent a long maceration and were aged for 22 months in 90% new French oak. If you are a fan of the top cult wines of the Napa Valley, now is your chance to grab this wine as we highly anticipate the price will rise rapidly in the coming years.

The 2013 Hertelendy Napa Cabernet exhibits an opaque dark purple core with purple and ruby reflections on the rim. Intense, dense aromas of ripe wild boysenberry, blueberry, and purple plums are intricately laced with notes of anise, cacao nibs, fresh violets, a touch of pencil lead, wet earth and are beautifully framed by exotic toasted oak aromas. The incredibly dense palate offers a rich, mouth-coating experience that is balanced by pitch-perfect acidity that frames the wine. The complex array of ripe black and purple fruits are layered with slightly dusty, dried clay minerality, tobacco, cedar, chocolate and elegant baking spices from the new oak. An absolute blockbuster – if you are a fan of Napa Cab at its most sound, modern form, this is the wine for you.  As with most versions of modern-styled Napa Cabernet, in my opinion, this wine will be at its best in its first 5-7 years while the fruit is still intact. In short, if you open this bottle now, you will not be disappointed. To enjoy, decant for 30-45 minutes and serve in Bordeaux stems between 55-65 degrees depending on your preference – any warmer and the high alcohol will dominate the stunning aromatics, which is often the case with riper wines. This wine is best served along a classic steakhouse meal of double cut ribeye with butter-sautéed mushrooms where the fat can stand up to the richness and density of this beautiful wine.”
–Ian Cauble, Master Sommelier