2008 Roberta's Reserve State Lane Vineyard Kapcsandy Family Winery

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Average critic rating : 99.0 points



The 2008 Roberta’s Reserve State Lane Vineyard (96% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc) is virtually perfect. This offering is just as strong as the 2007, but slightly more forward and irresistible than the backward 2007. It boasts a dense inky/purple color as well as an extraordinary nose of blackberry liqueur intermixed with cocoa, forest floor, graphite and subtle hints of smoke as well as camphor. The wine reveals fresh acids, laser-like precision and an extraordinary plump, fleshy mouthfeel. Already approachable, it should evolve for 20-25+ years. ||As I have written many times over the last several years, the Kapcsandy estate, which is essentially the old Beringer State Lane Vineyard in Yountville resurrected under the perfectionist philosophy of Lou Kapcsandy, his son, Louis, and wife, Bobbi, is about as good a news story as one can find in Napa Valley. The vineyard, planted with very tight spacing and a north/south exposition by Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer, is impressive in its own right. Yet what the Kapcsandys have done with the fruit from that vineyard with assistance from their consultant, the Pauillac-born Denis Malbec, is nothing short of remarkable. Moreover, they have done it in less than a decade, which proves that fortunes can be made quickly, provided there are three ingredients – incredibly hard work, lots of talent, and a super terroir. These can indeed propel an estate to the stratosphere in less than a decade. The basic second wine of lots culled out from their three top cuvees is called Endre. This is a very good effort as the two most recent vintages suggest. There are three cuvees made from Kapcsandy’s State Lane Vineyard. The Estate Cuvee is generally composed of equal proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blended with tiny amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The Roberta’s Reserve, which is named after Lou Kapcsandy’s wife, Bobbi, is their Pomerol-styled Merlot-based wine that usually contains at least 90% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Vin State Lane Vineyard is a northern Medoc-styled offering usually containing 85% or more Cabernet Sauvignon blended with tiny portions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. This estate has duplicated their extraordinary success with the 2007s with very great 2008s. The 2009s from the Kapcsandy’s 15.5-acre State Lane Vineyard are the result of a slightly cooler, larger yielding year.||For readers on the mailing list and visitors to the winery, there are several other wines produced. The estate makes a very delicious, dry, deep colored rose from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and the 2009 Rose is another noteworthy example. It possesses much more flavor and body than most roses. Kapcsandy also produces a port-styled wine called Vino del Sol. Slightly lower in alcohol than most ports (17.6-18.1%), to date they have made a 2007, 2008 and 2009. They’re good efforts, but hardly at the exhilarating level of quality of their dry estate wines made from Bordeaux varietals.||Tel. (707) 948-3100; Fax (707) 948-3106 Wine Advocate.December, 2010

Kapcsandy Family Winery: The Importance

A family affair, the Kapcsandy Family Winery in Yountville is a Napa superstar and has been producing outstanding wine since the early 2000’s, with the vision to create a Grand Cru quality wine. It now represents the benchmark in quality for Napa wine. Robert Parker describes them as "nothing short of remarkable", meanwhile Stephen Tanzer says: “perfectionist Lou Kapcsandy and his talented winemaker Denis Malbec may be making the most extraordinary wines in California today.”


A range of wines are produced at Kapcsandy, including the Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Vin State Lane Vineyard, a Pauillac-style wine usually containing at least 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, which has been praised by Robert Parker as “a flawless, seamless, profound example of Napa Cabernet.” This wine is one of the stars of this estate, with no vintage of this wine receiving fewer than 90 points when rated by Parker. Although the 2007, 2008 and 2012 vintages received some of his highest scores, all vintages produced are consistently outstanding. This wine is acclaimed by several of the world’s top critics, their only disagreement being on which vintage they love the most. This wine has, according to Parker, “unbelievable richness, great texture, tremendous finesse, precision and delineation” and the wines are typically deep, concentrated and rich.


Kapcsandy also produces a Pomerol-style blend, the Roberta’s Reserve, which usually contains around 90% Merlot. This wine has also been highly praised, the 2013 vintage receiving 100 points from both Antonio Galloni and James Suckling. Their St-Émilion inspired blend of Cabernet Franc/Merlot, Rapszodia, has been described by Antonio Galloni as “towering and majestic from the very first taste”, and combines the power of the Grand Vin with the finesse of the Roberta’s Reserve. The Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Cuvée (listed below as Cabernet Sauvignon State Lane Vineyard) is Médoc-style blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, around a quarter Merlot and a splash of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, and offers a window into this great vineyard. The estate also produces a Bordeaux blend wine at a more approachable price point called the Endre Proprietary Red, as well as a Merlot based port style fortified sweet wine, the Vino del Sol, along with some other excellent white and rosé wines. Unusually for Napa Valley, they neither buy nor sell grapes, and thanks to the quality of the grapes grown and the wine produced, it seems no surprise that Robert Parker would describe this estate as producing “world class wines… [which] seem to combine the best of French savoir faire with the extraordinary ripe, pure fruit grown in well-tended Napa Valley vineyards.”


The wine from this estate is in high demand, and in 2013, at the famous Napa Valley wine auction, one of the wines from this estate achieved the highest price in the whole auction, which shows just how extraordinary the rise of this estate, who had only bottled their first vintage 10 years before, has been.


Kapcsandy: The Insight

The vineyard is planted to approximately 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot with a plot dedicated to the Hungarian white grape variety Furmint. The replanting that took place when Kapcsandy took over the estate was carried out by husband and wife team of specialists Helen Turley (previously of Turley Cellars) and John Wetlaufer. Ever the perfectionist, Lou Kapcsandy hired specialists to interpret satellite data from NASA, in order to calculate the exact angles of sunshine, and the direction of the winds, to work out the optimum orientation for the vines. Wine consultant Denis Malbec who worked at Château Latour was then brought in to help produce the wines, bringing with him years of expertise in Bordeaux winemaking.


The vineyard at Kapcsandy is planted extremely densely, about 4-5 times more densely than is typical for Napa Valley, which means that the vine density resembles that found in Bordeaux First Growths.  This high density planting encourages the vines to produce smaller berries which ensure a higher skin to juice ration which intensifies flavours and aromas, contributing to the concentrated style of the final wines.


In order to achieve the perfect blend at each vintage, the family spend hours blind tasting before embarking on the blending process, this dedication to quality and attention to detail leading Antonio Galloni to say that “in all of my travels throughout the world I have met few producers who can match Lou Kapcsandy’s passion and total dedication to excellence.”


Kapcsandy: The Background

Originally from Hungary, Lou Kapcsandy emigrated to the United States in order to flee the Hungarian Revolution, and set up a construction business in Seattle. Deciding to pursue his passion, he purchased Beringer’s State Line Vineyard, which had been completely ravaged by phylloxera and set about replanting it with the varieties from the region which had most captured his imagination, Bordeaux.

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