Atlas Peak is known for robust, powerful Cabernet, even by Napa standards, and No. 9 lives up to that promise. The wine shows an impenetrably dark purple hue that hints at what’s to come, and the nose delivers with aromas of sun-kissed blackcurrant, hints of cedar, and a powerful wave of blackberry jam. On the palate, it boasts a tremendous amount of depth and complexity. Hints of wild bay laurel, graphite, and violets frame a deeply fruited powerhouse that’s all about wallops of cassis and dark plums. The wine takes another step after an hour of air, softening around the edges and delivering more complexity—a sign that it’ll improve with some time in the cellar if you can keep your hands off it now.
This is only the first vintage of his No. 9 Napa Cabernet, and there’s a reason that the French Laundry was first to pick it up—it’s a stunning value at its list price, let alone at our discount. Matt sources the fruit from a high-altitude, secret-to-the-rest-of-the-world vineyard in the famed Atlas Peak district of Napa, using connections that he built over his years as a go-to-guy for allocated and rare wines.
The site has been organically farmed since 2004, and the wine shows off the concentration and power you’d expect of a vineyard at 1,600 feet of elevation, where the fog burns off easily and the grapes are forced to grow thick skins that translate to extra power in the finished wine. A bit of well-judged new oak helps with a silky mouthfeel and adds a hint of spice before the wine is bottle unfined and unfiltered for maximal flavor and impact.
The result is a bottling that easily over-delivers—no one would bat an eye if this bottling sold for $100 retail, so drinkers at the French Laundry must feel like they’re getting a steal at just $105. We bought as much of his production as Matt would sell to us at this price because when you have access, you have to take advantage of it.