Critical Acclaim


December 2014

It’s very much a family affair at Kongsgaard, where John Kongsgaard, his wife Maggy and their son Alex jointly run the winery from their hamlet atop Atlas Peak. The cellar is bare bones and stripped down to the core, with only the bare essentials. But these wines don’t seem to need much. The fruit sources are top notch and the Kongsgaards are brilliant stewards who practice the art of minimal intervention. The results speak for themselves. This range of current and upcoming releases is full of highlights. The 2012s will provide plenty of immediate gratification, while the 2013s are going to require a bit more patience.

Tasted from barrel:

2013 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge Napa Valley
The 2013 Chardonnay The Judge has all of the intensity of the 2012, but it plays in a higher register, where the flavors are a bit brighter and palate density is more implied rather than overtly stated. Lifted and precise, the 2013 dazzles with its nuance and pure class. Scents of lemon peel, crme brulee, orange, crushed rocks and white flowers punctuate the dazzling finish. The 2013 is shaping up to be a gem. The only problem will be finding it. (93-95) points.

2013 Kongsgaard Chardonnay Napa Valley
Tangerine peel, orange zest and white flowers race across the palate in the 2013 Chardonnay. The flavors are bright and focused throughout. As good as the 2012 is, the 2013 could turn out to be better. This is a fabulous showing from Kongsgaard. (93-95) points.

2013 Kongsgaard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Kongsgaard’s 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most compelling, riveting wines of the year. Graphite, crushed rocks, plums, incense and tobacco fill out the wine’s big, broad-shouldered frame with admirable richness. Today, the tannins are overpowering. I imagine the 2013 will require quite a bit of bottle age to shine, but all the elements are present for this to develop into a spectacular wine. (94-97) points

2013 Kongsgaard The Fimasaurus Napa Valley
Dark plums, cassis, grilled herbs, smoke, incense, lavender and graphite come alive in the 2013 Fimasaurus, Kongsgaard’s Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. The 2013 strikes me as better balanced and also more complex than the 2012 tasted alongside it. The tannins are firm and imposing, so readers should plan on exercising at least some patience. (92-94) points.

2013 Kongsgaard Syrah Napa Valley
Another exciting, viscerally thrilling wine, the 2013 Syrah Hudson Vineyard opens with an exotic bouquet of bacon fat, black pepper, grilled herbs, game and graphite. The flavors are bold and broad sketched throughout, but even with all of the intensity, the Syrah remains utterly vivid and nuanced throughout. The huge tannins will require time to fully integrated, so readers should not be in a rush when it comes to the 2013. (95-98) points.

Tasted from bottle:

2012 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge Napa Valley
Honey, apricot jam, cinnamon, tangerine peel and rich, tropical-infused notes meld together in the 2012 Chardonnay The Judge. Rich, oily and voluptuous on the palate, the 2012 boasts marvelous depth and pure texture. Think of the Judge as more of an elixir than a wine. The 2012 is superb. 96 points.

2012 Kongsgaard Chardonnay Napa Valley
Lemon oil, almonds, hazelnuts, white flowers, mint and tropical fruit meld together in the 2012 Chardonnay. This is one of the more voluptuous, overt young vintages of the Napa Valley Chardonnay I can remember tasting. At the same time, veins of salinity notes underpin the finish, adding a welcome element of brightness. 94 points.

2012 Kongsgaard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Rich, sumptuous and beautifully textured in the glass, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is a terrific example of the year. Dark red cherry, cinnamon, cedar and tobacco open up in the glass, but the 2012 is above all else a wine of pure texture. The 2012 finishes with notable intensity and power, but next to the 2013…well, let’s just say the younger vintage is on a different level, at least today. 94 points.

2012 Kongsgaard The Fimasaurus Napa Valley
A ripe, explosive wine, the 2012 Fimasaurus is built on opulent fruit and a sense of total voluptuousness. In this vintage, the Fimasaurus sits on the edge of over ripeness and therefore comes across as a bit lacking in energy, but there is certainly plenty of near and medium-term appeal. Hints of mocha, espresso, black cherries and new leather add the final nuances. 91 points.

2012 Kongsgaard Syrah Napa Valley
The 2012 Syrah Hudson Vineyard is rich and voluptuous to the core, with considerable density and raciness to burn. Smoke, cedar, tobacco, spice and leather notes wrap around a core of dark red stone fruit. Today, the 2012 remains incredibly primary. The style is unquestionably ripe and exotic, while the oak is going to need time to further integrate. I would give the 2012 a few years in bottle to allow some of the baby fat to melt away. There is no hurry, as the 2012 is likely to remain compelling for many years. 94+ points.

2013 Kongsgaard VioRus Napa Valley
Kongsgaard’s 2013 VioRous is fabulous. Honey, lemon, mango, jasmine and white peach jump from the glass. Seamless and beautifully textured in the glass, the 2013 impresses for its balance and pure deliciousness. I would prefer to drink the 2013 over the next 2-3 years, while the flavors remain bright. 94 points.

2013 Albarino Napa Valley
The 2013 Albarino is Kongsgaard’s most steely, mineral-driven white. The flavors are brisk and refreshing throughout, with plenty of citrus, white stone fruit and salty, saline notes. This is another compelling wine from Kongsgaard. Sadly, virtually all of the production is destined for the country’s top restaurants. 93 points.