Freemark Abbey Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
The 2017 Rutherford has a beautiful, deep garnet colored hue. The aromas are complex and brooding with notes of espresso, cedar, forest floor and blackberry. The palate reveals flavors of cocoa powder, black peppercorn, cigar box, blackberry compote and oak spice. The palate is rich and full, complemented by well structured, integrated tannins. This wine pairs great with food and will last in the cellar for decades.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Fine yet chewy tannins in this with full body and richness. Blackberry, dust, blueberry and bark character and a flavorful finish. Give this some time. Better after 2024.
The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford) is another impressive wine in this range. Broad, ample and richly textured, the 2017 is fabulous. Dark red cherry, mocha, licorice, chocolate, spice and a bit of new oak all build as this sumptuous, medium to full-bodied wine opens in the glass. There's real presence and character. A dollop of Petit Verdot from Red Barn rounds out the blend.
The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford was aged for 27 months in French oak barrels, 64% new. Deep garnet-purple colored, it needs a little swirling to reveal notes of warm cassis, baked blackberries and garrigue with nuances of dried mulberries, bay leaves and tapenade plus a hint of fragrant earth. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has nice, bright, expressive black berry and savory flavors, supported by grainy tannins, finishing long and refreshing.
The history of Freemark Abbey began in 1886, when Josephine Marlin Tychson became the first woman to build and operate a winery in California. The historic site where Josephine's winery, Tychson Cellars, once stood is now known as Freemark Abbey.
Josephine, a native of San Lorenzo, California and her husband, John Tychson, a Danish immigrant, moved to St. Helena in 1881. For $8,500, they purchased 147 acres north of St. Helena, which later became known as "Tychson Hill".
Shortly after her husband's untimely death, Josephine began construction of a fifty square foot redwood winery which would grow to hold a capacity of about 30,000 gallons. In addition, she hired Nils Larsen, an experienced vintner, as her foreman. Josephine successfully produced wine for the next eight years and then sold the winery to Larsen in 1894. In turn, Larsen leased the winery to Antonio Forni, a good friend of Josephine's. Forni later purchased the property in 1898. Forni is responsible for building a new winery on the old site of the Tychson structure.
In the years that followed, Freemark Abbey went through a period of several different owners until 1966, when a group of partners purchased the winery.
Ted Edwards is one of the longest tenured winemakers in Napa Valley. After forty years as director of winemaking at Freemark Abbey, Ted transitioned to the role of Winemaker Emeritus in 2020. In his new role, Ted is charged with ensuring the Freemark Abbey wines retain the continuity of style and excellence that the winery has built its reputation on. He continues his involvement in all aspects of winemaking and vineyard practices, and more, imparting his wealth of knowledge and experience with winemaker Kristy Melton.
Kristy Melton has more than a decade of experience crafting wines with structure, finesse, and age-worthiness. Before joining Freemark Abbey, Kristy held winemaking roles at several Napa Valley and Sonoma County wineries including Clos Du Val, Bootleg, Kendall-Jackson, Saintsbury, and others. In her role as Director of Winemaking at Napa Valley’s iconic Clos Du Val, her exceptional ability to craft modern wines of balance and elegance was widely credited for the winery’s reemergence as a leader in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon production.
The Rutherford sub-region of Napa Valley centers on the town of Rutherford and covers some of Napa Valley’s finest vineyard real estate, spanning from the Mayacamas in the west, to the Vaca Mountains on the other side of the valley.
Inside of the Rutherford AVA, bordering the Mayacamas, is a stretch of uplands called the Rutherford Bench. (These bench lands technically run the length of Oakville as well). Mountain runoff creates deep, well-drained, alluvial soils on the bench, giving vine roots plenty of reason to permeate deep into the ground. The result is wine with great structure and complexity.
Rutherford Cabernet Sauvingons and Bordeaux Blends garner substantial attention for their enticing fragrances of dusty earth and dried herbs, broad and juicy mid-palates and lush and fine-grained tannins. The sub-appellation claims some of the valley’s most prized vineyards today, namely Caymus, Rubicon and Beckstoffer Georges III.
It is also home to Napa’s most influential and historic personalities. Thomas Rutherford, responsible for the appellation's name, made serious investments here in grape growing and wine production between the years of 1850 to 1880. Gustave Niebaum purchased a large swath of land and completed his winery in 1887, calling it “Inglenook.” Today this remains the oldest bonded winery in California. Georges Latour founded Beaulieu Vineyard in 1900, making it the oldest continuous winery in the state. Latour also hired the famous enologist, André Tchelistcheff, a man credited for single-handedly defining the modern Napa winemaking style.
A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys success all over the globe, its best examples showing potential to age beautifully for decades. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in Bordeaux's Medoc where it is often blended with Merlot and smaller amounts of some combination of Cabernet Franc, Malbecand Petit Verdot. In the Napa Valley, ‘Cab’ is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious, age-worthy and sought-after “cult” wines. Somm Secret—DNA profiling in 1997 revealed that Cabernet Sauvignon was born from a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc in 17th century southwest France.