2017 Textbook Napa Valley Cabernet



I am often asked, “What’s a hidden, out-of-the-way, undiscovered Napa Valley winery that’s making great wine?”

And I inevitably answer Textbook, a family winery owned by Jonathan and Susan Pey. It’s one of Napa Valley’s true gems. Even Robert Parker calls Textbook “a serious winery that consumers should be keeping an eye on.” And while Parker touts Textbook’s wines as “real treasures,” legendary British author and Master of Wine Jancis Robinson calls them “utterly hedonistic.”

And why do I consider them a hidden gem, despite all the critical fanfare? Check out the map above. Textbook’s two vineyards – the vineyards that make up this Cabernet – are contiguous with three of the most expensive Cabernets in the world: Screaming Eagle, Harlan, and Opus One. So if you’re a fan of the best of the best in Napa Valley Cab (if not worldwide), Textbook is a must on your list.

Yet here is the rub – Textbook doesn’t have a tasting room in Napa Valley. Remember that fourth winery stop of the day on your vacation in Napa Valley where you thought the wines were so good that you signed up for the 75-dollar-a-bottle case drop every quarter? Well at Textbook you can’t do that. The Peys just simply never opted for that business model (there are some pretty severe restrictions on it) so in effect, their wines remain hidden.

But that doesn’t mean their wine isn’t bursting-at-the-seams, amazing Napa Cabernet, because it is:

Napa’s bold black and blue fruit character is coming right at you the moment you pour the glass. There are added dimensions of baking spices, cedar, pencil lead and graphite. While there is no denying the California sunshine of fruit that is packed into the bottle, the wine is also, well, Napa Textbook (hence the name). It offers big and bold, yet seamlessly integrated, tannins and a stacked midpalate weightiness. The wine drinks exceptionally well now, though I still would give it a 30-minute decant. But the length of its finish tells me this treasure will continue evolving for at least another decade in your cellar.

What more could you ask for with Cab the likes of Screaming Eagle, Harlan and Opus One? Of course, we all want a great price. You’ve got it: