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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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