Premiere Napa Valley 2018 raises more than $4.1m
Hosted as usual at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St Helena, the 2018 auction focused on the 2016 vintage, which accounted for 196 of the 218 lots up for sale this year (187 plus 31 online lots).
As usual, Cabernet Sauvignon was the most popular choice among winemakers, making up 160 of the total lots.
This year’s $4.1m total raised was almost on a par with the $4.2m raised in 2017.
The top-grossing lot this year was 20 cases of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, which fetched $110,000 after bidding for the lot opened at $44,000.
Last year’s top earner was a 2014 Cabernet from Scarecrow Vineyards – not present this year – which sold for $200,000. The purchaser of the Silver Oak Cabernet was Total Wines & More, the US’s largest independent retailer of fine wine, with 173 stores. The wine will be released by the winery in 2020.
California 2016 vintage
The 2016 vintage was described by many present as offering a near-perfect growing season and a generous crop – ‘the easiest vintage ever,’ said consultant winemaker Aaron Pott, who presented a Bordeaux blend from his own Pott Wine label.
‘Growers had to be diligent about dropping fruit, but those who did have made wonderful wines,’ said Chris Tynan, winemaker at Cliff Lede Vineyards.
‘These are the lushest tannins we’ve seen in five years,’ commented Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars winemaker Marcus Notaro, who presented one of 10 varietal Cabernet Franc wines to be auctioned.
Tim Mondavi of Continuum Estate praised the vintage’s ‘tenderness, richness and layers of flavour’, while Elizabeth Vianna, winemaker and general manager at Chimney Rock Winery, was among those to draw parallels with 2012.
‘After three very dry, hot, concentrated and ripe years, 2016 is very refreshing. It’s lush but also elegant and graceful, characterised by freshness rather than ripeness of fruit.’
The auction on Saturday 24 February took place just months after fires swept through the region.
‘Although each February finds us eager to see you at Premiere Napa Valley, perhaps never so more than this year,’ said Jeff Smith of Hourglass, who led this year’s event steering committee.
‘As vintners in Napa Valley, we close this year in a state of reflection. While things settle back to normal, the recognition of how special this place is has never been more present in our minds.’
Premiere Napa Valley
Premiere Napa Valley is one of two major auctions that take place annually in Napa – the other, Auction Napa Valley, a four-day, star-studded event in June that raises vast sums for local charities.
Featuring small lots of unique wines, Premiere Napa Valley was established to raise funds for the trade – when it was first held in 1997 the Napa Valley Vintners trade association did not even own permanent premises.
The lots – which range in size from five to 20 cases of 12 bottles – are sold exclusively to retailers, wholesalers and restaurateurs, with wines still in barrel at this stage. These special bottlings can be obtained no other way, and every bottle is hand-signed and individually numbered by the winemaker on release.