Critical Acclaim


December 2016

This is a striking set of wines from John and Maggy Kongsgaard, and their son Alex, who continues to take on a greater role at the estate. I found a bit more textural lift and airiness in these wines than in the past, the Chardonnays in particular. It’s too soon to know if the slightly different feel to these wines is a reflection of progressively warmer, earlier vintages, or if some of that is attributable to Alex Konsgaards’ touch. We will see. The 2014 is the first Cabernet Sauvignon that incorporates fruit from Kongsgaard’s home ranch on Atlas Peak, with an old heritage clone that was planted some years ago. Cabernet Franc also makes its first appearance in the Cabernets, with selections from Hudson and Pomerol’s Vieux Château Certan. These remain some of the most striking and deeply personal wines being made in Napa Valley. The final notes of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 ‘Eroica’ fade into the background as this tasting wraps up. Heroic, indeed.

Wines tasted from barrel are scored in parenthesis:

2015 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge Napa Valley
The 2015 Chardonnay The Judge comes across as remarkably polished and nuanced. Weightless and almost airy – words I never thought I would use to describe a Kongsgaard Chardonnay – are some of the signatures. Silky and nuanced to the core, the 2015 is shaping up to be a jewel of a wine. (93-96 points)

2015 Kongsgaard Chardonnay Napa Valley
The 2015 Chardonnay is super-polished, refined and delicate. Even though the wine was sulfured about a month before this tasting, the flavors are remarkably pure. On the palate, the 2015 feels a bit linear, but that is almost certainly attributable to the sulfur. Candied lemon peel, white flowers and mint grace the exquisite, nuanced finish. John Kongsgaard adds that the fermentations were very slow in 2015 for this wine. (93-95) points.

2015 Kongsgaard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
A rich, layered wine, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon exudes power. Inky blue and purplish-hued stone fruits hit the palate first, followed by intriguing scents of lavender, sage, mint, graphite and herbs. Deep, powerful and explosive, the 2015 has so much fruit that the tannins are nearly buried, but they are there. Small berries and huge tannins add to the wine’s considerable personality. The 2015 is a brilliant wine in the making. (94-97) points.

2015 Kongsgaard The Fimasaurus Napa Valley
A wine of real gravitas, depth and power, the 2015 The Fimasaurus exudes pure breed. Gravel, graphite, smoke and intense dark fruit, along with the wine’s serious tannic heft, give the wine its imposing, virile personality. Fimasaurus is a blend of co-fermented Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot from the neighboring vineyard on Atlas Peak. (92-95) points.

2015 Kongsgaard Syrah Napa Valley
A ripe, opulent wine, the 2015 Syrah Hudson Vineyards is a real stunner. This is an especially flamboyant wine – even by Kongsgaard’s standards – and even so, all the signatures are very much in place. Black cherry, smoke, game and tobacco are all given an extra kick of inky intensity in this vintage. The 2015 is a dramatic, sweeping Syrah of heroic proportions. (96-98) points.

The following wines tasted from bottle:

2014 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge Napa Valley
Another highlight in this tasting, the 2014 Chardonnay The Judge is developing into a magnificent wine. Silky, gracious and lifted, the 2014 offers plenty of nuance. Lemon confit, hazelnut, orchard fruit and slate build as this sweeping, creamy Chardonnay shows off its personality. 95 points.

2014 Kongsgaard Chardonnay Napa Valley
Kongsgaard’s 2014 Chardonnay is a crescendo of aromas, flavors and textures. Expansive, rich and super-expressive, the 2014 is surprisingly accessible at such a young age. I am not sure how well the 2014 will age, but it is exceptionally beautiful and inviting today. Slate, candied lemon, vanillin and a hint of reduction infuse the striking finish. This is a terrific vintage for the Napa Valley Chardonnay. 94 points.

2014 Kongsgaard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is just as remarkable from bottle as it was from barrel. Intensely aromatic and nuanced, the 2014 also packs a serious punch of fruit intensity. Beams of tannin add to the wine’s energy and pure drive. Here, too, the Cabernet Franc is quite expressive, especially in the wine’s bouquet 96 points.

2014 Kongsgaard The Fimasaurus Napa Valley
The 2014 The Fimasaurus is outrageously beautiful. In particular, the 2014 is remarkably precise for such a big, wine. Scents of tobacco, cedar, smoke, graphite and menthol wrap around a core of intense dark fruit. Powerful and dense, the 2014 needs just a few years to come into its own, but it is pretty special, even today. Fimasaurus is a blend of co-fermented Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot from the neighboring vineyard on Atlas Peak. 96 points.

2014 Kongsgaard Syrah Napa Valley
Kongsgaard’s 2014 Syrah Hudson Vineyards is simply extraordinary. Savory, intense and pulsating with energy, the 2014 is wonderfully bright and expressive. The 2015 is an obvious wine, but the 2014 has more vibrancy and pure drive. The dark red cherry, plum fruit is nicely delineated, but it is the wine’s salivating intensity that really elevates it into the realm of the sublime.100 points.

2015 Kongsgaard VioRous Napa Valley
Bright, airy and lifted, the 2015 VioRous, Kongsgaard’s Viognier/Roussanne is also remarkably gracious in this vintage. The orchard fruit and floral notes are very pretty. This is the first vintage that includes Atlas Peak Viognier from the neighboring property. In 2015, VioRous is Judge Viognier, Judge Roussanne and Atlas Peak Viognier. 91 points.

2015 Albariño Napa Valley
Kongsgaard’s 2015 Albariño is silky, nuanced and precise. Lemon peel, white flowers and white pepper give the 2015 much of lifted, aromatic high tones. In this vintage, the Albariño has slightly softer contours that normal because of the heat of the vintage. If opened young, the 2015 needs quite a bit of air. 91 points.