Wine Reviews: Ashes & Diamonds

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-29-2020

I’m back this week to focus on more California wines, this time from Napa’s Ashes & Diamonds.

This project was founded by California native Kashy Khaledi, a media and advertising executive, in 2013. The winery brands itself as “a love letter to Napa Valley as it was when it took the world stage in the 1960s.” Their glassy, mid-century modern winery, located off Highway 29, looks like a fascinating place to visit.

For winemaking duties, Khaledi wisely sought out renowned winemaker Steve Matthiasson and Diana Snowden Seysses, enologist at Domaine Dujac and winemaker at Snowden Vineyards. The several vineyard sources seem like truly special sites, from the gravelly, clay and loam soils of the Ashes & Diamonds Vineyard in Oak Knoll to the thin, rocky soils of the Mountain Peak Vineyard in the Atlas Peak appellation.

I had been aware of these wines for a while, but never wrapped my palate around one until recently. I receive and review a lot of California wines, many of which I appreciate and enjoy. But it’s rare that I taste wines that get me as stoked as these. Sipping these wines, I was shocked at their complexity, vibrancy, effortlessness. The wines are really special and delicious, and perfect for palates with a tendency toward old-school California and Old World styles.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2017 Ashes & Diamonds Blanc No. 3 USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $45
Bright yellow color. Wow, the aromas are stunning and invigorating. Quince, fig, lemon peel, papaya, the fruit is topped in yellow flowers, honey, candle wax, sea salt, mountain stream. Precise and focused on the palate, the light body (11.9% alcohol) meets a deeply textured wine, full of apricot, lemon and green melon fruit. Brisk, mineral, wild herb, honey and chalk notes add all sorts of complexity. Such a nervy, packed wine, this will improve for many years. 50/50 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon from two vineyards in Oak Knoll and Yountville, barrel-fermented, aged 10 months in 30% new French oak. (94 points IJB)

2019 Ashes & Diamonds Rosé No. 4 USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $39
Medium copper color. Such an inviting and vibrant mix of aromas, from yellow pear, apricot and raspberry, to celery seed, mint, with notes of crushed shells, clover and chalk dust. Crisp and bright on the palate (12.4%) balanced with this textural depth and flavor complexity. Apricot, melon rind, white peaches and lemons, the fruit is juicy and pure, accented with all sorts of floral, salty, flinty, mineral, herbal tones. Beautiful presence on the palate, opens up wonderfully with air. A fantastic rosé that you can enjoy now or forget about for a few years and be assured of deliciousness. Whole-cluster Made from Cabernet Franc from Carneros, Oak Knoll and Yountville. (92 points IJB)

2017 Ashes & Diamonds Cabernet Sauvignon Mountain Cuvée No. 2 Bates Ranch USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
SRP: $105
Medium purple color. So fresh and inviting on the nose, with chilled black cherries, plums, topped generously with spicy black tea, clove, plenty of rocky, dusty tones, with pepper, violets. Fresh and crisp on the palate, this is a medium-bodied Cabernet (13%) with structured but fine tannins and incredible balance and mouthfeel. Cool black cherries, crunchy plums and wild blackberry fruit mix so well with mint, tilled soil, violets, clove. Lots of pepper, mushroom and mineral tones come out, more so with air. This is beautiful but needs several years at least to show its best. From a 2,100-foot vineyard on a 30% southeast slope. Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc, aged 19 months in 40% new French oak. (94 points IJB)

2017 Ashes & Diamonds Cabernet Sauvignon No. 2 Mountain Peak Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Atlas Peak
SRP: $125
Medium purple color. What a gorgeous nose! Vibrant currants, tangy plums, juicy blackberries, with inviting notes of warm clay, rocky earth, leather, cocoa and mint – needs time to open and show its full aromatic potential, but lots to unpack. Medium-bodied with precise acidity throughout, the tannins show structure but refinement. Black and red currant fruit abounds, with suave plums, and the fruit is laced with fascinating elements of green herbs, leather, rocky earth, black tea and anise. Beautiful, refined but age-worthy – what a stunner. Aged 19 months in 30% new French oak. (94 points IJB)

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