Viluko Vineyards Cabernet | Unearthing a Sonoma Gem
I prefer not to play favorites, but if you were to ask me what my favorite winery was right now? For its uncompromising devotion to quality, value and relative obscurity, Viluko Vineyards boasts an unusually compelling combination of superlatives that’s begging to be discovered.
I first learned of the Viluko Vineyards when John Rimmerman of Garagiste compared the 2011 Viluko Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon to those produced by the revered Mayacamas Vineyards. Mayacamas is quietly very well-reputed for producing age-worthy, balanced and terroir-driven mountain Cabernet’s.
This more restrained, classical style is what forged Napa’s reputation as a top region for Cabernet Sauvignon, yet sadly it has become harder and harder to come by as ultra-ripe, sweetly fruited Cabernet’s garner much of the acclaim – and pricing power.
I had to try the Viluko Cabernet, and was wholly impressed. It is a refreshing departure from the sea of overripe, oaky Cabernet out there. Sure, I like a fruit-bomb just as much as the next guy, but I find myself far more intrigued by those wines that have a lot to say, without ever having to raise their voice. I want those notes of cassis and black cherry to be grounded by inflections of earth, herbs and mineral. I want a glass of Viluko Vineyards Cabernet!
Appearance: A vivid medium to dark garnet red that’s just barely translucent in the glass.
Nose: High-toned aromas of raspberry, redcurrant and black cherry are interlaced with more savory characteristics of underbrush, mint, herb and freshly cut tobacco.
On the palate: The medium-bodied Viluko Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is pure and focused in its delivery of vivid red fruit flavors which are underscored by notes of forest floor, herb, tobacco and mineral. Finishes long and savory with invigorating acidity and subtle spice. While many wines begin to deteriorate and fade by day 3, the Viluko Cabernet actually managed to gain a bit more richness revealing blackberry and a streak of gravelly minerality that’s reminiscent of a Bordeaux from Pessac-Leognan.
Varietal Composition: 100% Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: Mayacamas Mountains, Sonoma County
Value Rating: 3.5 / 5
Where to get it: Viluko Vineyards
Winemaker: Timothy Milos (Previously of Stags Leap Wine Cellar and Opus One)
Should you buy? The Viluko Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is a wonderfully refreshing departure from the sea of ultra-ripe, oaky California Cabernet. This balanced, classically restrained expression of Cabernet harmoniously melds complexity and depth with purity and focus. It manages to be both fresh and savory at once, with inflections of earthy minerality that remind you that terroir still exists in California Cabernet.
Value Proposition – Viluko Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
The Viluko Cabernet Sauvignon reeks of pure, unadulterated Cabernet goodness. There aren’t many producers of California Cabernet whose wines offer this kind of typicality and authenticity at such reasonable, accessible prices.
And did I mention that Viluko Vineyards produces a second label of Cabernet Sauvignon that’s even more affordable? The more fruit-forward Split Rock Cabernet is also entirely produced from organically farmed estate-grown grapes yet retails for an incredibly modest $35.
Viluko Vineyards is a small family-owned and operated boutique producer that’s relatively new on scene. Comprising 37 acres of entirely organically farmed mountain vineyards ranging in elevation from 600 to 1100 feet, Viluko Vineyards would be labeled Spring Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon if it were located just one mile east.
The property is right on the Napa line, yet because it falls on the Sonoma side of the equation the label doesn’t carry quite as much cachet. But that also translates to a more reasonable price point, and what really matter is the quality of what’s in the bottle.
When you buy a bottle of Viluko Vineyards Cabernet, you can rest assured that what you’re getting is not a bottle of marketing savvy, but rather simply a bottle of savory Cabernet Sauvignon excellence. I look forward to sharing more offerings from Viluko Vineyards in the near future.
**The Viluko Vineyards Cabernet was received as a media sample for purposes of review. No other consideration was received for publishing this article.