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The World of Wine-Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

wine bottles and glasses
Tasting the 2019 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon

I celebrated this year's Open That Bottle Night with a bottle of Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 from one of Napa’s celebrated winemakers, Chris Carpenter.


Carpenter, a master at crafting 100-point wines, is the winemaker for Napa’s iconic Cardinale and Lokoya, both known for incredible Cabernet Sauvignons. Carpenter continues his homage to that grape at Mt. Brave, crafting a Cabernet from Napa’s highest vineyards on Mt. Veeder. Mt. Veeder is the largest AVA in Napa, but has the lowest average yields in the region. With vineyards above the fog line, it’s one of the coolest places in Napa to grow grapes.


Napa's 2019 Vintage

Following on the heels of a stellar 2018 vintage in Napa, the 2019 didn’t disappoint. In fact, many winemakers think it will be the standout vintage of the decade. The 2019s are a bit weighter with a bit less acidity and a bit more alcohol than the 2018. Growing conditions were ideal with a wet winter and cool spring leading to a late budbreak. A warm growing season, without extreme weather events, allowed the grapes to mature slowly and evenly. The result is classic Cabernet Sauvignons that achieve balance with strong black fruit notes, solid structure and freshness. This vintage will cellar well.


But as it was Open That Bottle Night, I didn’t want to wait.


Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

At $125, the Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 is an average-priced Napa Cab. While not at all what I’d call a budget-friendly bottle, it’s a bargain compared to the $250-500 cabs Carpenter creates for his other two wineries.


The grapes for this vintage come from the old Chateau Potelle vineyard on Mt. Veeder. This plot of land historically produces some of Napa’s top bottles. While it’s a single varietal Cabernet because in Napa a wine needs to be 75% Cabernet Sauvignon to earn the distinction, the bottle is actually a Bordeaux Blend with 89% Cabernet Sauvignon and small percentages of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Peitit Verdot and Malbec in the mix.

"It's a savory vintage so you get the brightness and floral aspect of Mt. Veeder with a wee bit of that savory characteristic that makes for a killer combination," said Carpenter.


Time to Taste

Wine bottle and decanter with flowers
Decanting the Cab

The first thing I notice about the wine is its luscious inky purple color as I pour a bit into a glass and the rest into a decanter. I like to try a wine straight out of the bottle and decanted to see how the wine changes during the aeration process.


I find that decanting a younger red wine can help improve wine that you don’t have the patience to age, as in the case of this Mt. Brave, or help open a young, inexpensive red and coax it to show you more than it otherwise would.

Starting with the wine poured directly into my glass I swirl it and note the heavy legs, which tells me that the wine has a decent alcohol percentage (14.5%).


The nose brings to mind blackberries, blue fruits, vanilla and smoke. The wine is structured with noticeable tannins, fruit-forward and acidity. It has the hallmarks of a young, though totally drinkable and enjoyable Cabernet.


As I cook our vegetarian lasagna dinner (no steak for a non meat-eater like me) the wine decants for about 45 minutes.


Decanting a wine makes oxidation and evaporation begin. Both elements soften a wine and can make it more aromatic. Evaporation helps remove some of the more volatile components in wine, which helps it seem smoother. Oxidation is a slower process; it won’t immediately remove strong tannins but it can work on some smaller phenolic compounds making the wine seem softer.


This is exactly what happens with the decanted Mt. Brave Cab. The wine is more expressive exuding notes of chocolate, florals and spice. The mouthfeel is less tannic. Overall, our group preferred the decanted version of the wine.


If you’re a lover of Napa Cab, The Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 is a great addition to your cellar. You’ll get a cab made by one of Napa’s top winemaker at a price point that is an incredible value for the craftsmanship inside.


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