Is there a consensus on how the Napa 2016 Vintage is shaping up?

I went back through some old threads and saw some optimistic comments for 2016 relative to the 2015 vintage but haven’t seen any recent commentary (maybe I missed them?). With all the lists dropping in our inboxes these days I was curious if there were any constructive views out there?

Based on the available information which prior vintage would people expect the 2016 to most resemble.

Thanks in advance.


Galloni and Dunnuck have recent notes on this, and from what I can gather they are loving the 2016’s, even more so than the 15’s.

I believe Antonio stated that 16 was the second best vintage of the decade, behind 13’s.

I have been liking mine, but will only get serious next month with trials regarding what makes a Special Selection (if one emerges) and what makes a good “regular” Black Cat. If anyone out there is going to be out here in Napa Valley in Feb, March, April…I would welcome them to sit in and take a look, barrel by barrel, with me, to see what we can find. It’s the most fun part of the job.

Thanks for the very helpful replies … although my credit card statement may feel otherwise in the coming months if I end up back in the wine buying phase.

Merrill, you will be happy to know I shared a 2008 Black Cat with friends over dinner recently and it drank wonderfully. Congratulations on all your successes.


I am liking what we have in barrel a lot. We do our final blending next month so I’ll know more than. In early December we blended our PNV Auction lot (which is 2016 cab-based from 3 vineyards) and I thought the mountain vineyards (Stagecoach and Yates/Mt. Veeder) were a little more open than our Rutherford cab at this point. Again will know more in a month or so.

2016 has to be stellar because 2017 is mostly smoke tainted

That is not correct. In fact, 2017 shows a ton of promise. Over 80% of the fruit was harvested before the fires, and the rest within days. This will be a poison pill vintage for critics who make that claim.

Joe B=Troll,
Are you sick of pushing peoples buttons over in politics Joe?

Vintage of the century!

Don’t be a goon Marcus. [drinkers.gif]

Sorry Joe,
I took your comment as purely cynical and snide,
If I have got it wrong I unreservedly apologise

This is why you are a goon. Nothing on topic, just looking for post count.

2016 is now being heralded by some to be better than 2015. Amazingly enough 2015 was a small harvest and we were told that it rivaled 2013. I still have the mailers. So now, some folks are saying that 2016 is either as good as 2013 or at least better than 2015. I think we all need to be a little skeptical on the 2016 claims because an industry this large will do what needs to be done to protect itself. Profits need to be made and the following year, well… 2017, miraculously for 90% of vineyards [whistle.gif] we are told was harvested a month earlier than usual when we all know that there is an amazing shortage of crews to do the picking, sorting etc etc. Now I am not saying there is a conspiracy afoot here, but I would be careful with the claims of both that 2016 rivals 2013 as well as that everyone got their grapes in for 2017 before the fires and “possible” smoke tainted fruit. All one really has to do is go look at the photographs during the fires in the area. People were being evacuated. Grapes were hanging on the vines. Maybe those were Franzias or Gallo’s grapes?

Do you have anything helpful to add Marcus?

Smoke taint impact on the 2017 is certainly real to a certain extent but also a bit of a red herring. I think there are two more important factors that may impact the vintage. The first is the September - October heat spikes and corresponding increase in brix levels during harvest. The second is post fire impact on wine makers ability to actually be in the winery/crush facility and be as hands on as they typically would be during the fermentation process.

Well, I can tell you what EMH did. I made the call to pick for Labor Day, I believe that was September 4. The fires started October 8. In that month’s time, most of the other vineyards picked and brought their fruit inside.

As to the issue of lack of access to tend the fermentations? I know that winemakers were there, in the wineries, sanctioned or not. My own winemaking staff had police and fire personnel escort them in to do their jobs (as the rest of us were under mandatory evacuation). The wines are just fine. I cannot comment on how they match up to the 2016s because they are at different stages of their lives. But there is no panic button being pushed here.