• Producer: Promontory
  • Winemaker: Davide Cilli
  • Region (AVA): Napa (Napa Valley)
  • Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Vintage production: c.2,000
  • Winery location: Oakville
  • First vintage: 2009
  • Drinking window: 2024-2065


About The Wine:


It took imagination to see the potential of this seemingly inhospitable site! It was in 1984 that Bill Harlan fell in love with this virgin territory - which had no vineyards at the time - and he had to wait for the opportunity to acquire it. Today it is his son Will Harlan who has taken on the project and is integrating it into the future, a 200 year plan for all the family properties (they also own Harlan Estate and Bond Winery). In 2008, father and son were able to buy the first parcels - some of which had been planted in the meantime - and the last one was acquired in 2014. The rocky soils were severely eroded due to massive deforestation dictated by the pressure to produce. The conquest of the hostile canyon and its slopes was therefore progressive, undertaken in a way that had to be invented on site to rise to the challenge of preserving the original purity of the place. 11 hectares of the original vineyard have been conserved due to the interesting age of these Cabernets. Another 16 hectares are still being replanted parcel by parcel and five new hectares have been planted. A micro vineyard, therefore, for an ultra-confidential production.


The name "PROMONTORY" evokes the remarkable topography of the land: almost wild, with rugged relief; a valley hidden by forest and bordered by steep slopes, only 10% of which allow vines to grow (Cabernet Sauvignon, with a small amount of Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc). This vineyard, perched at up to 340 meters, enjoys a cooler microclimate than the rest of the area, with morning mists. The soil is another particular feature: clays and shales, along with highly rich metamorphic volcanic rock, are unique to this land. This geological profile, the result of two fault lines that cross the site, has never been encountered before in Napa.


The PROMONTORY winery is located in Oakville, a few miles from the vineyard. Due to the geological diversity, winemaking is carried out through parcel management. This technique results in thirty lots, which is a fabulous base for Cory Empting, the winemaker, who can thus put together very precise blends. Malolactic fermentations take place in French oak barrels. As the Cabernet Sauvignon’s powerful tannins need to soften, the ageing of PROMONTORY lasts five years: twelve months or so in the barrels, then two years in Austrian oak casks and finally another two years in bottles.


As if this mysterious region communicated a certain restraint to the wine, the nose is at first quite reserved. After the wine has fully aged, PROMONTORY retains its elegant tight weave - with an exceptional capacity for keeping - but the tannins have melted beautifully and offer a remarkable depth. The aromatic intensity is revealed in notes of ripe red fruits and blackcurrant – the reflection of a great solar vintage, without excess - whereas a little acidity gives a vibrant energy to the wine, preserving a perfect overall balance. The subtle mineral and resinous aftertaste further underlines the great freshness of the wine, recalling the rich geology of the valley and its woods.


Promontory Proprietary Red 2016

  • "Deep garnet-purple, the 2016 Promontory comes barreling out of the glass with bold scents of black cherries, blueberry pie and licorice, leading to a slowly emerging core of crème de cassis, dark chocolate, black soil and truffles plus touches of cumin seed, mossy bark and beef drippings. The full-bodied palate is densely packed with muscular fruit, backed by a rock-solid structure of very firm, exquisitely ripe, grainy tannins and fantastic tension. The finish is both powerful and beautifully nuanced, hedonic and cerebrally gratifying. This singularly stunning expression of Napa Valley is to be released by the winery in 2021."

    100 points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown (The Wine Advocate, Jan. 2021)


    "The 2016 Estate is pure perfection and a legend in the making. Featuring incredible purity of fruit as well as powerful notes of crème de cassis, gravelly earth, cedar pencil, and chocolate, it has the fresher, pure, classic style of this great vintage front and center. With full-bodied richness and depth, it has an almost Château Latour-like stature and majestic quality, and it should have a similar evolution, requiring 7-8 years to hit its early drink window yet evolve for 20-30 years or more."

    100 points, Jeb Dunnuck (Jan. 2021)


    "I tasted this for the first time last year and it has only got greater. The nose is breathtaking. Purity with incredible complexity, showing dried mushrooms, blackberries, currants and cedar. Some wet earth. Dense and layered blackberries and blueberries. Full-bodied and long with beautiful depth and intensity. The tannins are ultra long. Black truffle comes through. Love the length, finesse and focus. Release in 2022."

    100 points, James Suckling (Jan. 2020)