Cardinale Winery | 2012 Cardinale Reviewed

Cardinale Winery | 2012 Cardinale Reviewed


Well, two weeks of serious celebrating have officially come to an end, or have they? You see I turned 30 on Friday, and arguably drank enough good wine with friends and family to ensure that the memory of the actual day will remain fuzzy for years to come. But I’m not entirely ready for the good times to end, which is why I’ve elected to uncork a bottle of prestigious, limited-production Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from none-other than Oakville’s Cardinale Winery.

Much like Lokoya Winery (which I recently visited), Cardinale is one of the crown jewels in the Jackson Family Wines portfolio. But where the four distinctive Lokoya wines represent the purest expression of their respective AVA’s potential (Howell Mountain, Spring Mountain, Diamond Mountain and Mount Veeder), Cardinale aspires to be the perfect blend.

The fruit used to produce Cardinale is sourced from top mountain and benchland vineyards throughout Napa before being blended by Winemaker Chris Carpenter. His goal is to craft one wine each year that represents the ultimate expression of what Napa Valley is capable of producing. According to Cardinale’s philosophy – the vineyards are his instruments, and he the composer.


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Appearance: Opaque at its core, it is dark and dense revealing a vivid shade of garnet red at the rim.

Nose: The nose is rich and expressive, revealing layers of red and dark fruit underscored by nuances of star anise and sweet oak. Despite its apparent concentration and density, the fruit aromas of raspberry, black cherry and creme de cassis maintain a refreshing purity and brightness.

On the palate: The 2012 Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon is impressive for how it delivers such a full, generous profile so elegantly and harmoniously. Concentrated flavors of black cherry, blackberry and creme de cassis build in the mouth before melding with licorice, vanilla, and molasses nuances. The tannins are surprisingly supple and the finish is long and seamless with subtle smoke, Asian spices and an undercurrent of minerality that keeps everything well-grounded. This is extracted but never heavy, with a beautiful silken texture.

Vintage: 2012

Varietal Composition: 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot

Oak Treatment: 20 months in 94% new French oak

Origin: Napa Valley

Value Rating:  2 / 5     

Where to get it: Directly from Cardinale Winery, or locate a retailer via Wine-searcher

Price: $250

Score: 97

Should you buy? The 2012 Cardinale is so rich, polished and harmonious, it should be on every wine lovers shopping list who can afford the ultra-premium price tag. This is a wine you wow someone with. This is the wine you seduce your girlfriend with as you work up the courage to propose. This is the wine for those who think Cabernet Sauvignon has too many hard edges. The 2012 Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon is undeniably a gorgeous composition.


Value Proposition | Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

I couldn’t think of more perfect wine with which to end my birthday celebrations on a high note with. In fact, there was no shortage of gorgeous notes emerging from my glass, serenading me sip by sip. I only wish the Cardinale were more affordable, but there is no arguing with what Winemaker Chris Carpenter has achieved with this beautifully polished Cabernet Sauvignon.

With merely 2,263 cases to go around and a tremendous following that only seems poised to grow, the limited number of Cardinale allocations are surely going to become more and more scarce. I suggest securing your tickets to this performance before they’re as hard to come by as a ticket to Hamilton on Broadway!

**The Cardinale Cabernet was submitted as a media sample. No other consideration was received for publishing this article.

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3 thoughts on “Cardinale Winery | 2012 Cardinale Reviewed

  1. Pingback: Galerie Wines | Winemaking Meets Artistic Expression - The Fermented Fruit

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  3. Pingback: Chris Carpenter | Sitting Down With The Composer Himself - The Fermented Fruit

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