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The Cults

The California cult wine phenomenon sprung from the roaring economy and excesses of the internet bubble in the 1990’s. The inductees into this highly select group can be counted on two hands: Araujo Estate Eisele vineyard, Bryant Family Vineyard, Colgin, Dalla Valle Maya, Harlan Estate, Grace Family Vineyard, Screaming Eagle, and Shafer Hillside Select. These wines are produced in extremely limited quantities (sometimes as small as 50 cases), have consistently earned perfect or almost perfect scores from the worlds leading wine guru Robert Parker, only sell via mailing list to an extremely limited number of people, and demand astronomical prices from loyalists the world over.

Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard

Araujo is a Chateau-style wine property in northern Napa Valley. Its famed cult wine is made from cabernet sauvignon grapes sourced exclusively from Eisele vineyard. These grapes are remarkably concentrated, low yielding and very capable of being transformed into astounding wines. They “have a rare combination of forthright character with precisely defined flavors and fine textures, deep concentration without any sense of heaviness, and the capacity to develop profound complexity with age.” (winery website) If you can get your hands on them, try the following vintages:

1994 Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard (RP 95)
1995 Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard (RP 98)
1996 Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard (RP 94)
1997 Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard (RP 99)
1998 Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard (RP 92)
1999 Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard (RP 95)
2000 Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard (RP 91)
2001Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard (RP 97)
2002 Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard (RP 98-100)
2003 Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard (RP 96-98)


Bryant Family Vineyards

Bryant Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is produced from grapes grown on the Pritchard Hill vineyard in Napa Valley. These grapes benefit from an almost unique weather effect produced by Lake Hennessey. Hot summertime temperatures are moderated by winds off the lake keeping the grapes cooler and imparting unique characteristics. Try the following:

1993 Bryant Family Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 95)
1994 Bryant Family Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 98)
1995 Bryant Family Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 99)
1996 Bryant Family Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 99)
1997 Bryant Family Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 100)
1998 Bryant Family Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 93)
1999 Bryant Family Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 100)
2000 Bryant Family Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 95)
2001 Bryant Family Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 91)
2002 Bryant Family Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 96)
2003 Bryant Family Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 996-98)


Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard

The combination of excellent terrior and the expertise of winemaker Helen Turley has launched the Colgin winery into wine history with one of the most sought after cult wines. Also situated above Lake Hennessey the Colgin winery was purchased by Ann Colgin and produced the first vintage of Herb Lamb cabernet sauvignon in 1992. Try the following wines:

1992 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard (RP 96)
1993 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard (RP 95)
1994 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard (RP 96)
1995 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard (RP 98)
1996 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard (RP 97)
1997 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard (RP 99)
1998 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard (RP 90)
1999 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard (RP 95)
2000 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard (RP 91)
2001 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard (RP 95)
2002 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard (RP 96)
2003 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard (RP 91-94)


Dalla Valle Maya

Named after the daughter of Naoko and Gustov Dalla Valle, the Maya vineyard is located on the eastern hillside of Napa Valley. The wine itself is a blend of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Aged in 70% to 80% new French oak these are wines of “extreme refinement, rich elegance and outstanding aging potential.” (from website) Only 500 cases are made a year :

1990 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 96)
1991 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 99)
1992 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 100)
1993 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 98)
1994 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 99)
1995 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 96-98)
1996 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 96)
1997 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 99)
1998 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 95)
1999 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 97)
2000 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 91)
2001 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 92)
2002 Dalla Valle Maya (RP 93)

Harlan Estate

Harlan Estate is situated above the Napa Valley benchlands in the western hills of Napa Valley. Owner William Harlan, a real estate developer in a former life, has achieved fame in proportion with his financial success with his estate wines. Planted with the classic Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec, Harlan Estate produces world class grapes. Try the following wines:

1991 Harlan Proprietary Red Blend (RP 98)
1992 Harlan Proprietary Red Blend (RP 96)
1993 Harlan Proprietary Red Blend (RP 95)
1994 Harlan Proprietary Red Blend (RP 100)
1995 Harlan Proprietary Red Blend (RP 99)
1996 Harlan Proprietary Red Blend (RP 98)
1997 Harlan Proprietary Red Blend (RP 100)
1998 Harlan Proprietary Red Blend (RP 95)
1999 Harlan Proprietary Red Blend (RP 92)
2000 Harlan Proprietary Red Blend (RP 91)
2001 Harlan Proprietary Red Blend (RP 100)
2002 Harlan Proprietary Red Blend (RP 96-100)


Grace Family Vineyard

Grace Family Vineyards is probably the first Cult winery in Napa Valley. As one of the first vineyard designated wines, Grace Family Vineyard's first vintage was produced by Dick and Ann Grace with the help of Caymus’s Charlie Wagner in 1978. On only a one acre plot, they produce only 50 cases of wine each year. Committed to using wine as “a catalyst towards healing our planet” the Grace’s are committed to organic and biodynamic farming as well as tailoring their wines towards charity auctions. Try these wines;

1985 Grace Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 96)
1986 Grace Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 93)
1991 Grace Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 89)
1993 Grace Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 91)
1994 Grace Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 94)
1995 Grace Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 94)
1999 Grace Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 89)
2000 Grace Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 88-90)
2002 Grace Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 89)


Screaming Eagle

Screaming Eagle is the penultimate Cult Wine. It is the most sought after, most expensive, and hardest to get California wine. Owner Jean Phillips hand bottled the first vintage in 1992 and the wine catapulted to the top almost instantly. Try these:

1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 99)
1993 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 97)
1994 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 94)
1995 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 99)
1996 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 98)
1997 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 100)
1998 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 94)
1999 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 97)
2001 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 98)
2002 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 99)
2003 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (RP 95-97)


Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select

John Shafer acquired his vineyards in the 1970’s. The unique configuration of the vineyards ensures that their premier wine can be exceptionally made every year despite the vagaries of weather. Sections of sunlight and shadow produce intensely flavored small dark berries of meager yield. But the quality is intense and their Hillside Select shows beautifully time and again. Try these wines:

1990 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 92)
1991 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 94)
1992 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 95)
1993 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 94)
1994 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 99)
1995 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 99)
1996 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 98)
1997 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 99)
1998 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 94)
1999 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 97)
2000 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 93)
2001 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 99)
2002 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 98-100)
2003 Shafer Stag’s Leap Hillside Select (RP 94-98)