Domestic Red: Lokoya 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder
Maybe it takes an exceptionally well-rounded winemaker to make a wine that so perfectly balances bright fresh fruit, acidity, minerality, and tight tannins. Chris Carpenter, Lokoya’s wine whisperer, is also a musician and former college athlete. This new vintage, hailing from one of Napa Valley’s heralded appellations on the sun-infused, steep slopes of Mt. Veeder, tastes like a symphony—each finely tuned part contributing to an even grander sum.
While the Lokoya 2013 Mt. Veeder had more flash and a bigger structure, as Carpenter says, by comparison “the 2014 is more approachable and not as big—the Audrey Hepburn to 2013’s Marilyn Monroe.”
A whiff of fresh mint on the nose gives way to blueberry pie and black raspberry with muscular, dusky notes of lamb. The long finish is dry and savory, leaving you craving another sip. Harvested early, as 2014 was one of California’s sequential drought years, and after an August earthquake, the grapes that make up this wine had to struggle just a bit more than usual at this elevation of 1,800 feet, making the flavors more concentrated but still subtle and the yield even smaller than in 2013—1,400 cases. After 19 months in French oak barrels before some time in bottle, this graceful wine is eminently drinkable now, but its tannin structure parlays into room for years of cellaring. ($375)