Critical Acclaim


December 2018

Atlas Peak was one of hardest-hit areas in the fires of last fall. As relentless flames encircled their property, the Kongsgaards were lucky to get out alive. Through some sort of minor (or major) miracle, and the efforts of firefighters, the family home was not damaged at all. Alex Kongsgaard camped out in the caves to make sure the wines survived as well. And they did. Even today, a year later, the damage wreaked by the fires is evident in the scorched hillsides. It is so great to see the wines showing so well, because they could have very well been lost. The 2016s are brilliant, while the 2017s aren’t too far behind. As I have written here before, my sense is that the wines are just a bit more vibrant than they were a few years ago.

Wines tasted from barrel are scored in parenthesis:

2017 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge Napa Valley
The 2017 Chardonnay is powerful and rich in the glass. At this stage, The Judge is not that differentiated from the Napa Valley Chardonnay, but that will almost certainly come in time. Today, the 2017 is embryonic and still a bit hidden by a vein of sulfur, and yet there is much resonance and texture. (92-95) points

Kongsgaard 2017 Chardonnay Napa Valley
Kongsgaard’s 2017 Chardonnay is gorgeous. Soft, supple and nuanced with no hard edges and terrific balance, the 2017 is already a very pretty wine. Orchard fruit, floral notes and light tropical inflections all grace this exquisite, super-elegant Chardonnay from Kongsgaard. There is so much to look forward to. (91-94) points

Kongsgaard 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is outrageously beautiful. Savory, dense and earthy with a distinctly Old World sense of structure, the 2017 is shaping up to be a real gem. In a vintage in which so many wines are opulent, Kongsgaard’s Cabernet Sauvignon is unusually tannic and brooding in feel, even though the blend incorporates 20% Merlot. (93-96) points

Kongsgaard 2017 The Fimasaurus Napa Valley
The 2017 The Fimasaurus is arrestingly beautiful, with gorgeous Cabernet Sauvignon aromatics that literally soar out of the glass. Deep and powerful, but yet also very silky, the 2017 Fimasaurus is simply tremendous. I especially admire the wine’s stunning aromatic and palate presence. Fimasaurus is a blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, co-fermented. (93-96 points) points

Kongsgaard 2017 Syrah Napa Valley
The 2017 Syrah Hudson Vineyards is another glorious wine in this range. Rich and inky in the glass, the 2017 offers a compelling interplay of rich fruit allied to a vertical sense of structure. Dark red fruit, spice and floral notes are pushed forward, but it is the wine’s total sense of poise that is most impressive today. Unctuous and full-throttle to the core, with head-spinning intensity and exceptional balance, the 2017 Syrah is shaping up to be an absolute jewel of a wine. (94-97) points.

The following wines were tasted from bottle:

Kongsgaard 2016 The Judge Napa Valley
The 2016 Chardonnay The Judge is very tightly wound at this stage, which is probably a very good sign for its long term aging prospects. Intense in its phenolics and overall structure, the 2016 is going to need a few years to be at its best. The Judge is often quite obviously opulent, but the 2016 is holding so much back today. Almond, sage, mint and dried flowers open up with time in the glass, but only very reluctantly. 96+ points

Kongsgaard 2016 Chardonnay Napa Valley
The 2016 Chardonnay has really come together during its aging. Fresh and detailed, the 2016 has grown into a wine of total finesse. Lemon peel, white flowers, mint and white pepper give the 2016 a super appealing upper register that really explodes. Ample and generous on the palate, with tremendous depth, the 2016 is positively stunning. 95 points

Kongsgaard 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is a huge, brooding wine. Massively structured and tannic, the 2016 is going to need many years to come into its own. Today, it is a mere infant. Black cherry, scorched earth, chocolate, tar, graphite, grilled herbs and smoke, along with the wine’s sheer heft, add to an impression of gravitas. 96+ points

Kongsgaard 2016 The Fimasaurus Napa Valley
The 2016 The Fimasaurus is every bit as impressive as it was last year. In 2016, Fimasaurus is incredibly harmonious and polished, with superb textural richness throughout. Espresso, licorice, dark spice, cedar and leather are some of the many notes that build in this super-expressive and seductive wine from the Kongsgaards. 96 points

Kongsgaard 2016 Syrah Napa Valley
The 2016 Syrah Hudson Vineyards is simply magnificent. Deep and unctuous, yet also exquisitely layered, the 2016 has so much going on. A rush of black pepper, menthol, lavender, licorice, cured meat and smoke build into the explosive finish as this dramatic, statuesque Syrah shows off its personality and pedigree. In a word: tremendous. 99 points

Kongsgaard 2017 VioRous Napa Valley
The 2017 VioRous is bright and lifted in the glass, with striking aromatic top notes that give the wine brightness. Viognier from Atlas Peak, which is playing a greater role in this wine, adds a measure of translucence and purity that previous vintages have not shown. The 2016 is all class. Readers should expect a relatively restrained VioRous in 2016. The blend is 65% Viognier/35% Roussanne from the Atlas Peak and Judge vineyards. 93 points