Realm's latest awfully clever move is to purchase the old Hartwell property constituting the highest blocks above their already estate-owned Stags Leap District vineyard (the source for Moonracer). The vines planted here originate from budwood acquired by Bob Hartwell (the previous owner) from Dick Grace of Grace Family Vineyards in the 1980s. They feel that this label made exclusively from these upper blocks "pays tribute to the lineage and history of Napa Valley." Deep purple-black colored the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Hartwell (Grace Clone) leaps from the glass with bold blackberries crushed blackcurrants and wild blueberries scents plus wafts of black cherry compote oolong tea red roses and fragrant earth. The palate has beautiful restraint revealing medium to full-bodied elegance with a very structured firm grainy texture and lively freshness finishing very long with lots of mineral and earth sparks. There is so much latent power waiting to burst out of this wine I wouldn't be surprised if it warrants a higher score when revisited in 10 years' time. The team at Realm seemed to have played it ultra-cautious in 2017. In spite of all the challenges caused by the Labor Day heat wave followed by the October fires that year they have produced a strong lineup of very impressive wines. Fans should note that no Falstaff Farella Vineyard or Beckstoffer To Kalon Cabernet Franc labels were produced in 2017 due to the situation that fruit was still hanging in these key vineyards during the fires. "In 2018 we had a lot of time to pick. We had a lot of time to make the wines" winemaker Benoit Touquette informed me. "Not to get greedy with Mother Nature was the challenge. We didn?t have the huge crops that some people had. We could pick at our leisure. If you did the right viticulture it was an easy vintage." Indeed the Realm 2018s have an effortless carefree purity about them with all the bright energetic crunchy fruit that is a characteristic of this cooler vintage. This is not to say that that these wines do not possess that decadent personality fans have come to love. On the contrary there is a lot of impactful intensity with these 2018s. Yet they seem to bear a cheery skip in their step which is going to make you fall in love with this winery all over again.
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