(Click on the cover above to download and read the interview with Robin Lail in the Wine Spectator May 2020 issue)
About The Estate:
Robin’s beautiful home at The Mole Hill Estate on Howell Mountain sits above the fog line, it is the heart and soul of Lail, and gives its name to the hyper-rare Mole Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – a wine so rare that it is not made every year, and has not been reviewed by any wine writer.
Lail has two estate vineyards, Mole Hill and Totem Estate in Yountville, and gathers fruit from vineyards at top sites across the valley: Heimark in Calistoga, Vine Hill Ranch in Oakville, Crocker in St. Helena, Farella and Rewa in Coombsville.
It's from these sites that the flagship J. Daniel Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon, named in honour of Robin's father, is produced. It's a unique wine, being Napa's only Mountain/Oakville Cabernet blend. The Howell Mountain fruit brings a dark fruit character and intense tannins, while the Oakville offers the classic Cabernet varietal tones. Having been made by Robin with her winemaker Philippe Melka since 1995, the J. Daniel is on a run of high scores with 100 RP in 2012, 99+ in 2013 an a potential 100 RP score from barrel for the 2015.
Robin and Philippe wanted to offer an earlier drinking Cabernet that highlights the quality of these vineyards while being more accessible early on - this is the excellent Blueprint Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the most elegant and refined Napa Cabernets available.
As well as these stunning Cabernets, Lail is famed for its Sauvignon Blancs. The top cuvee is the exclusive Georgia Sauvignon Blanc, produced from cooler sites in Yountville. Robin recently served the 2004 vintage to Parker who was astonished to find how fresh and complex it was at over ten years of age! He described the Georgia as one of the great Sauvignon Blancs of the USA. It has also been likened to Haut Brion Blanc.
As with the J. Daniel, the Georgia has a Blueprint Sauvignon Blanc sibling, blending the Totem Vineyard fruit with selected parcels throughout the valley. It too has a sense of Bordeaux to it.
Winemaker Philippe Melka has a rather stellar CV, with time spent at Château Haut Brion (which perhaps explains the amazing whites!), Petrus, Dominus and Ridge.
Robin co-founded Dominus Estate with Christian Moueix, and Merryvale with Bill Harlan
Robin’s great granduncle was Gustave Niebaum who founded the iconic Inglenook Estate in 1879 and was renowned for his determination to achieve excellence in his wines
Inglenook is still in the family blood as Robin's daughter works with the current owner Francis Ford Coppola.
View from the balcony of Robin's home, surrounded by the Mole Hill Estate Vineyard