I’ve been in wine for decades now and outside of knowing how a certain bottle should taste, I’ve learned invaluable information that extends throughout the entire pipeline—from farming to winemaking to operations. While Parador certainly excels in the first two, it’s the last one that amazes me: operations. How is it that proprietor Steve Ventrello can craft such an exquisite, texturally refined Cabernet Sauvignon, age it for nine-plus years in barrel and bottle, attach an insanely low price tag, and then reveal that only three barrels were ever produced? Simple: This is a bonafide passion project, one that reignites my passion for the legendary Napa Valley and its flagship grape.
Today’s exceedingly rare value comes to you from the Hossfeld Vineyard high up in Napa Valley’s Vaca range and offers a brilliant snapshot into the hauntingly dark and vividly brooding soul of mountainside Cabernet. Check the vintage too: 2010, a perfectly balanced year that Antonio Galloni simply extolled as “epic.” So here we are again, with another library release from Parador that has rocked our very core by evoking memories of Napa greats from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Take as much as your cellar will allow because spotting a mature, tailor-made Napa Cab for this price is a thing of the past. This represents the last parcel of Steve’s 73-case passion project. If you miss out today, you miss out forever!
Having sold the great wines of the world over a long career as a wine merchant, Steve Ventrello crafts his Parador wines with what might be called a European sensibility. This Cabernet, while in no way lacking in body and structure, is constructed more along old-school Bordeaux lines—he isn’t gunning for ‘cult wine’ status, but rather a powerful, subtly complex red that he’d want to drink both on release and 10-20 years down the line. And one of the linchpins of this philosophy is the great partner/fruit source he found in the Hossfeld family.
Whether it’s the Mayacamas Range to the west or the Vaca Range to the east, the mountains that flank the Napa Valley are a treasure trove of world-class Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards. One example (of many) is the Hossfeld Vineyard, once an overgrown wilderness perched more than 1,500 feet above the valley floor in Soda Canyon, tamed and planted back in the early 1980s by Susan and Henry Hossfeld. The vineyard is extremely steep (required that it be terraced), with very thin topsoil over volcanic bedrock. Soda Canyon, where Hossfeld is perched, sits between the Stag’s Leap and Atlas Peak AVAs, up above Yountville. Furthermore, the Hossfelds farm the eight different blocks that comprise this vineyard sustainably, and are moving toward organic certification. Parador’s Cabernet comes from 34-year-old vines that produce small, thick-skinned berries. In 2010, the wine underwent 35 months of barrel aging in 33% new French barriques. It was bottled in 2013 and then allowed to rest for several more years—today’s batch has never left the cellar.
In the glass, the wine rejects all light with its opaque garnet core. It’s full of intense concentration and viscous tears that show off the muscle and brawn of Cabernet Sauvignon. Let it be known that this doesn’t smell, taste, or feel like an overblown, overpriced cult Cab: Parador’s 2010 is a masterclass on balance, equilibrium, and freshness. It exudes perfumed notes of macerated black plums, black currant, black raspberry liqueur, violets, damp rose petal, fresh cedar, tobacco, baking spice, dried herbs, bay leaf, lead, turned earth, and crushed volcanic rock. Although the palate is full, lush, and brooding, it skillfully avoids the heavy side of things and remains lifted and vivid throughout. It’s ready to savor now, but easily has 5-10 more years of flattering evolution ahead. All you need to do is (1) gently decant the wine off its sediment, (2) serve in Bordeaux stems, and (3) consume around 65 degrees over the course of a long evening. We all deserve to enjoy a balanced, deeply layered mature Napa Cabernet, but to do so with a medium-rare filet is transcendent. Enjoy!
Napa Valley / Hossfeld Vineyard
Cabernet Sauvignon 100%
33% New French Barriques
Decomposing Volcanic Rock