- Producer: Dana Estates - read about the Estate
- Winemakers: Philippe Melka & Chris Cooney
- Region (AVA): Napa (Rutherford)
- Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
- Vintage production: 203 cases
- Winery location: Rutherford
- Owner: Hi Sang Lee
- First vintage: 2005
- Drinking window: 2020-2045
About The Wine:
This gently sloping site is relatively cool, and is protected from the intensity of the late afternoon heat during the height of the growing season. The gravelly loam soils provide excellent drainage and wonderful fruit purity. Helms Vineyard Cabernet displays the classic profile of the Rutherford Bench: dark fruit, richly layered with a touch of spice and earth. The finely grained “dusty” tannins so prevalent in the appellation are integrated and harmonious, producing a wine of sophistication and depth.
The 2016 vintage allowed head winemaker, Chris Cooney to reflect upon crafting the Dana wines and the full tenure of the winery. In their combined efforts, Philippe Melka and Chris further concentrated on vineyard expression and refined farming practices. The anticipation of the vintage allowed for proper planning and execution of an early harvest of phenomenal quality.
Dana's philosophy of minimal intervention in the vineyard and winery has resulted in a slow progression to dry farming. This forces the vines to look deeper for water, but also for nutrients and minerals. The results are balanced vines that produce small intensely flavored berries with thick darkly colored skins. The 2016 season started with the soil full of water giving the vines a respite from 3 years of drought. The season started with a warm April and May which promoted rapid shoot growth with no water limitations. This established healthy canopies early in the season. A little extra work was done to keep dappled light in the fruit zone open which is critical for tannin development.
Flowering occurred in mid-May during warm weather which is ideal. The crop level was moderate and slightly below average. The summer heat was moderate with only a few heat spells; an almost perfect season. Veraison was early giving plenty of time for flavor and tannin development before harvest. This near perfect growing season yielded wines with great balance, precision, and depth of flavor.
The harvest at Helms occurred over a week at the beginning of October; October 1st, 4th, and 7th. The upper slope was ready first, and the team worked their way down the hill to the cooler soils with a bit more clay which ripen a bit later. The fruit was near perfect with moderately sized berries and no dehydration. The fruit was fermented in an oak upright tank and mix of small and large barrels with native yeast. The wine remained with the skins for 30-36 days. The wines were drained directly to barrel. The wine was aged on the lees and rack once for blending in the spring following the harvest.
Dana Estates Helms Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 MAGNUM
"A truly sensational wine, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Helms Vineyard is just breathtaking. Fresh, vibrant and towering in its beauty, the 2016 possesses off-the-charts aromatic intensity, fruit vibrancy and total harmony. Sweet floral and spice notes add freshness to this plush, deeply resonant Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. The move to pick just a bit earlier has paid off big-time in bringing out the purity of the red-toned fruit. The 2016 is simply magnificent. Wow."
98 points, Antonio Galloni (Vinous, Jan. 2020)