To Kalon vineyard has gained legendary status for its Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley. William Kelley picks his top 10 To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

The potential of To Kalon, considered as one of North America’s ‘first growth’ vineyards, was first discovered in 1868 by Hamilton Crabb after he purchased an estate in Oakville. He experimented with plenty of different vines before realising that his estate was perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon.

The secret to Crabb’s success lies with the terroir. To Kalon sits on an alluvial fan which means that a broad swathe of alluvial material was deposited by ancient streams that flowed down from the Mayacamas mountains surrounding the land.

  • See below for 10 top To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon 

These deep and gravelly soils are very well drained and they force vines to delve deep underground in search of water, creating the stress necessary for optimal ripening.

After a few years, and after his wines won numerous awards throught the US and the rest of the world, he renamed the vineyard To Kalon, which is Greek for the highest beauty or highest good.

However, this good fortune wasn’t to last after Crabb died and the Prohibition began in 1920. Post Prohibition the vineyard was divided up with Robert Mondavi purchasing 132ha in 1962.

Nowadays, To Kalon is divided into six and after a long and drawn out lawsuit over who can brand their wines under the To Kalon name, the grapes can sell for more than £18,000 a tonne and a To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon bottling is must-have for any new winery with pretensions to grandeur.

Top 10 To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon:

Opus One Oakville 1979

Opus One, Oakville 1979

The inaugural vintage of Opus One, made from the same raw materials as the 1979...

Points 93
Opus One 2012

Opus One, Oakville 2012

A Rubenesque rendition of the Rothschild-Mondavi brainchild. Aromas of ripe black...

Points 93