- Rating: 100 out of 100
- Tasting Fee: $150
- Accepts Reservations: Yes
- Reservation Required: true
Yountville, CA 94599
I can say unequivocally that Kapcsandy has been my favorite wine tasting so far in the Napa Valley. Although it lacks many of the aesthetics that you may come to expect from Napa wineries, imagine all of that energy and precision being focused on the wine instead (their website is the first indication of this philosophy). It shows in every wine they make and all of the 98pt+ ratings that the world’s premier wine reviewers heap on them. So why isn’t this winery more famous like Screaming Eagle, Lokoya, Scarecrow, etc? I can imagine there are many opinions on this, but my personal opinion on this is their blue collar nature in doing great work rather than advertising. Other contributing factors include their small production and wine collectors buying up all their wine as soon as its released.
The experience all starts with signing up for an appointment. You’ll notice that you can only make a reservation if your group is 4-8 people, for only one time of day (10:30am) and only on Tues-Fri. Even then, you might not get an appointment. They aren’t trying to be difficult - it’s because the operation is tiny. Owned/Operated by a Father/Son tandem and ~6 other people, there isn’t much free time to hold tastings – and yes, if you get an appointment, the Father or Son will be the ones hosting the tasting!
The property itself is as unassuming as its website. It’s easy to drive past the winery and miss it – there aren’t any signs! When we arrived, we second-guessed ourselves whether we were in the right place as well. The tour of the vineyards and facilities also reinforced that this place was a temple for making great wine, not for hosting visitors. We even got to see the longest sorting table in the world that is in use for wine making (I believe it) - they make sure no unfit grapes make it into their wines.
Ahead of time, we read about all of the famous personalities involved at the start of this place (Helen Turley of Marcassin, Denis Malbec of Chateau Latour and Notre Vin, etc.), but we had no idea why. Until we started the tasting. Have you ever had a wine so good that you just about started to cry? I hadn’t before this tasting. A week later, I even tasted a 2009 Chateau Margaux (an amazing vintage of a First-Growth Bordeaux - $900+ a bottle) that critics everywhere rave about, but wouldn’t hesitate pitting that wine against the 2013 Grand Vin and asking people to choose their favorite. These wines were a revelation. During our tasting for 8 people, they served us the following wines:
- 2014 Estate Cuvee - 80% New French, 72% Cab Sauv, 19% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot, 13.8% ABV, 96pts James Suckling
- It’s crazy how even their cuvee is irresistible. Violet, wet stones, and sweet tobacco permeate throughout. You could easily convince me that this was the tete de cuvee of a Howell Mountain vineyard. Instead, this is the cuvee (meaning blend in French) of a valley floor winery. Unbelievable
- 2015 Rapszodia - 100% Cab Franc, 20 mths in 85% new French Oak, 14.4% ABV, 98+pts Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate
- I have really started to appreciate all of the 100% Cabernet Franc wines that have started to appear in Napa. But this takes the cake. Cassis, blue fruit, cocoa, violets, graphite, minerality, and some tertiary character. Pronounced intensity, fresh, but powerful with lots of room to integrate. I can’t wait to see it age…
- 2012 Roberta’s Reserve - ~90-100% Merlot, the rest Cab Sauv, 14.5% ABV, Heavy Clay Soils, 99pts Robert Parker Jr., Wine Advocate
- Oh my goodness – just when you think the 2013 is one of the best Merlot you’ll ever have in your life, you taste the ’12 which is also on point. Mocha, cocoa, black and red fruit, with some character from the charred barrels. Big, rich, opulent, unforgiving and yet soothing at the same time.
- 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Vin - 95% Cab Sauv, 5% Merlot, 13.9% ABV, 99pts James Suckling
- Another wine that follows its 2013 counterpart brilliantly. Less about power and more fragrance oriented. Black/Blue fruit, sweet tobacco, wet stones, and cedar. Lighter body than the ’13 with more energy early in its life, but still has all the other great Kapcsandy features. It basically screams “come and get me!”
- 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Vin - 20 mths in 97% new French Oak, 88% Cab Sauv, 12% Merlot, 14.1% ABV, 100pts Robert Parker Jr., Wine Advocate
- RP describes this like drinking a ripe Chateau Latour (a First-Growth Bordeaux), which I definitely get. The richness, ripeness, savoriness, but levity on the palate are all remarkable. As amazing as the 2014 is, you can just sense the 2013 is special… Take all the great things about 2014 and accentuate them a bit more with more balance and a tinge more purity and you get this bottle of perfection.
- 2008 Roberta’s Reserve - 18mths new French Oak, 96% Merlot, 4% Cab Franc, 14.5% ABV, 99pts Robert Parker Jr., Wine Advocate
- It was an absolute pleasure tasting their Merlot 10 years in. The graphite, forest floor and cedar come out a bit more with time, but the intensity of the fruit is still strong and irresistible. Great mouthfeel and a consistent experience all the way through the palate. Glorious…
- 2007 Roberta’s Reserve
- Not normally on the tasting menu, hence my lack of stats of the wine. RP called this a bit backwards, but it’s definitely worked itself out now. I need to stop drinking Kapcsandy’s wines or else they will corrupt me and my palate will soon be unrecoverable. All the great parts of 2008, but I felt an extra layer of complexity I couldn’t quite put my finger on… I need to taste more to see, haha.
- 2016 Furmint - 7 mths sur lie, 14.2% ABV, 90pts Antonio Galloni, Vinous
- The ripeness on this furmint completely changes its complexion and tasting profile from its original Hungarian incarnation. Ripe flavors up to melon with enough acidity to support the bigger body formed from the additional ripeness/alcohol. I could see how this could fool people into thinking this is a unique Napa Sauvignon Blanc, but there is enough foreign quality that ups the complexity to make it distinguishable. Very nice.
- 2013 Vino del Sol - 30 mths French Oak, 70% Cab Sauv, 24% Merlot, 6% Cab Franc, 17.2% ABV (fortified with Brandy), 93pts Antonio Galloni, Vinous
- Dark fruits, chocolate, silky but a great weight on the palate. Some tertiary notes from the extra wood aging as well. The price point makes it simply irresistible for those looking to find a dessert wine to stock. If you cannot afford their red still wines, you can definitely afford this. Just be careful – once you try it, you might find yourself trying to buy out their stock.
Unfortunately, many of these wines are out of the price range of the average consumer (the Roberta’s Reserve and Rapszodia start at $285 and the Grand Vin at $375), though the tasting fee should have hinted at this. Personally, I bought several bottles for very special I-hope-they-happen-in-the-future occasions, but the wines others found affordable were the Estate Cuvee, the Furmint, and the Vino del Sol. I think my group ended up purchasing 20+ bottles of the Vino del Sol ($45) and 10+ bottles of the Furmint ($35). Comparing their quality to other Napa wines in the same price range, these two are both steals. The Vino del Sol is a combo of Cabs and Merlot in a fortified wine style and the Furmint can fool friends who drink $50+ Sauvignon Blancs.
If you are a serious wine drinker / wine collector that dabbles in cult wines of California, do not sleep on Kapcsandy. The quality here surpasses many of the other places I’ve visited with prices in the same range. And at 1/2 the price of first-growth Bordeaux’s, I’ll take a bottle of the Grand Vin or Roberta’s Reserve any day over them..
Rating: 100 out of 100