Deep purple color. The nose shows gorgeous currants, black cherries, and cassis, with evocative notes of pepper, sage, menthol, mint, and a host of earthy, gravelly, stony aromas that need time so show their full effect. The palate shows tart, welcome acidity, framing the grippy tannins well, and sporting a dark core of currants, plums, and black cherries. Such freshness in the fruit, and the complexities abound: mint, charcoal, rocky earth, pencil shavings, black pepper, violet potpourri. This will benefit from age, but the young expressiveness is impressive. A 2019 Napa classic that drinks like a wine two or three times its price. Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. (93+ points IJB)
Vibrant purple color. Such an inviting nose, with dark, tangy currants and plums, plenty of savory nuances (tar, tobacco, pepper) with herbal earthy tones (tobacco, eucalyptus, red pepper flakes) – a lot of fun to swirl and sniff. The palate is framed with fresh acidity and grippy tannins that show the more refined edges. The fruit is a tangy, lovely compote of black cherries and currants, and mixes well with tones of anise, black pepper, rose petals. Plenty of earthy, stony, Napa goodness, and the nuances of cocoa and oak and woven in expertly. Open and expressive now (I’d decant for sure), but holding off for five to seven will result in an awesome experience. Cabernet with dabs of Petit Verdot and Merlot. (94 points IJB)
Aromas of leafy herbs, blackcurrants, wet stone and ink. Full-bodied with soft, silky tannins. Juicy and succulent fruit on the palate, with some lovely mineral notes poking through. Steady and nicely balanced. Nice length, too. Drink or hold.
Inviting aromas of wet minerals, black licorice, ground spice, and dried herbs. Full-bodied with silky tannins. Linear and long. Plenty of gravel and wet-stone complexity here. Nicely composed. Drink or hold.
4 ½ kisses | 95 points
The name is a reference to the audacity of Napa’s early grape growers and winemaker Cary Gott exceeds expectations on that score, using fruit grown at an elevation of over 800 feet on the 20-acre Calla Lily estate on the eastern side of Howell Mountain. This round, robust red has a plush, angelic texture and a dusky core that peeks through an elegant mantle. Flavors of black plum, expresso, and licorice intensify as they cross the palate toward the generous finish.
Calla Lily’s 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Ultimate Red delivers scents of Ribena, sage and a hint of bay leaf on the nose. It’s medium to full-bodied, silky in texture and maybe a touch tart on the finish, but it’s a solid effort.
Nearly 95% Cabernet Sauvignon (the balance is mostly Petit Verdot), the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Audax is a big step up from the 2017, boasting more refinement and purity of expression. Scents of cassis and blueberry take the lead, with subtle shadings of sage and mocha adding complexity. It’s full-bodied yet silky and suave, with a tight, composed feel on the palate and a lingering finish liberally dusted with soft tannins reminiscent of cocoa powder. While approachable now, it should drink well for more than a decade.
The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Ultimate Red actually benefits from being a big larger-scaled than previous vintages, boasting attractive cedar and cassis aromas as well as more volume on the palate than the 2018. Full-bodied and velvety, it finishes with a touch of licorice.
Approximately 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% each Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Audax is impressively dark in the glass, with attractive scents of cassis, mocha and dark chocolate; while it avoids much of the herbal nuance of the 2018, it’s a bit simpler, riper and chunkier in feel. No doubt some tasters will thrill to its ripeness, ample weight and sheer bulk—and don’t get me wrong, it’s a full-bodied, brash Cabernet I’d gladly pair with a grilled T-bone—but it doesn’t quite measure up to the balance and near-elegance of the 2018.
James Suckling reviewed the 2018 Ultimate Cabernet Sauvignon on January 26, 2022:
Aromas of cassis, blackberry, chocolate, vanilla, peppermint and cedar. Full-bodied with plush tannins. Firm and structured, yet creamy, with a caressing, ripe core of black fruit and sweet spice. Drink from 2023.
James Suckling reviewed the 2018 Audax on January 26, 2022:
91 points: Aromas of ripe blackberries, dark cherries, blackcurrants, dried thyme, vanilla and baking spices. Full-bodied with firm, dense tannins. Rich, ripe and fruity with a creamy texture. Drink from 2023.
The Calla Lily “Ultimate Red” Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Napa Valley, is a blend of 84 percent cabernet sauvignon, 6 percent each cabernet franc and merlot and 4 percent malbec, aged 22 months in French oak, 40 percent new barrels. The wine displays an inky-purple robe that shades to a magenta rim; iodine, iron and graphite, intense and concentrated blue and black fruit; large-framed, lithe and supple, with huge presence and substance; loads of dusty, graphite-ridden tannins and granitic elements. 14.5 percent alcohol. Try 2022 or ’23 through 2030 to ’33. Very Good+ for now, perhaps Excellent potential.
Calla Lily is a venture helmed by Napa Valley veteran Cary Gott, with the investment of a few businessmen from Hong Kong. The clear intent is to fashion cabernet-based wines for those with patience and cool cellars.
Predominantly cabernet, with 4 percent merlot, 3 percent cabernet franc and 1 percent malbec, the Calla Lily Audax Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley, aged 27 months in French oak, 50 percent new barrels. The result is a solid, sizable wine with plenty of girth and depth. The color is dark to medium ruby-magenta; the nose displays iodine and mint, iron and graphite that slowly open to notes of spiced and macerated black currants, cherries and plums; on the palate — bastions of dusty, velvety tannins that reach deep and extend in every direction through dark, vibrant acidity and layers of briers, brambles and underbrush; it’s quite dry, yet offers glimmers of juicy black fruit flavors. 14.7 percent alcohol. Production was 268 six-bottle cases. Try from 2023 or ’24 through 2033 to ’35. Very Good+ for now, with Excellent Potential.
94 points: The first vines on this 20-acre estate vineyard, located in Pope Valley on the eastern side of Howell Mountain, were planted in 1995; the property also boasts a small plot of pre-phylloxera vines. Winemaker Cary Gott’s aging regimen for this blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot is 22 months in 40% new French oak. Dry, chalky tannins grip the teeth with sage and plum as graphite and deep notes of mocha keep the senses alert. This is an accessible yet exceedingly regal red, with pepper and mountain brush emerging through a veil of black cherry and tilled soil.
Calla Lily Winery – A Boutique Napa Valley Winery Off The Beaten Path
February 20, 2021
When visiting Napa Valley, a trip to Pope Valley is a must. Experience authentic Napa Valley, it is the quieter and less pretentious side of Napa. Pope Valley has risen in stature in recent years, producing prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon’s that are intense and vibrant. One of the newer and more renowned projects in the Pope Valley is Calla Lily Winery. Calla Lily has an elegant portfolio of wines that are produced around the imagery of calla lily, a flower of enormous beauty and refinement. These are the exact qualities that the winery strives to express in its wines.
Calla Lily Winery spans 95 acres in Pope Valley, just down the hill from Howell Mountain in the heart of Napa Valley. With the help of Cary Gott, Calla Lily was founded by Anthony Fung and Andy Chui, two Hong Kong-based entrepreneurs. The goal is to produce artisanal, low-production, boutique wines.
Calla Lily produces only estate wines, with 20-acres of estate vineyards consisting of Bordeaux varieties. The first vines were planted in 1995 and today there are 12 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 acres of Petite Sirah, and 1 acre each of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petite Verdot. The vines are established on the eastern side of Howell Mountain at an elevation of 800 feet, making it cooler than the valley floor. Combined with the elevation, soil, and microclimate, winemaker Cary Gott says, “Pope Valley is a hidden gem in Napa Valley”
Cary Gott is an icon in the wine industry. He is a fourth-generation California winemaker who’s had a hand in more than twenty wineries. With 40 years of experience, he has managed multiple ultra-premium vineyards; he was the Senior Vice President of Seagram Classics, the President of Sterling Vineyards, and the Winemaster of Mumm Napa Valley. He is known to have helped many enter the wine business and get them on the right path to building a wine brand. The Gott family also owns food and wine businesses in Napa Valley and San Francisco, most notably Gott’s Roadside and Joel Gott Wines.
Calla Lily Ultimate Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
The Ultimate Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc; 6% Merlot; 4% Petit Verdot. Intriguing notes of blueberries, plum, cinnamon, thyme, and sage exude from the glass. The palate is layered and concentrated with notes of black fruit, cocoa, and spice. This is a classic Napa Cabernet Sauvignon done right. Only 1032 cases produced.
Calla Lily AUDAX Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2015
AUDAX, meaning “bold” in Latin, is Calla Lily’s barrel-selection reserve wine made as a tribute to the pioneers of Napa Valley, many of whom settled in Pope Valley. The bottle and packaging are luxurious and elegant. This is a wine that needs to be enjoyed in a high-quality Bordeaux wine glass, for the best experience. AUDAX is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon; 4% Merlot; 3% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec and is energetic and vibrant.
There are quintessential notes of dark fruit, oak, chocolate, and dried flowers. There is a wonderful tension between the fruits and tannins. The finish is rich, spicy, and seductive. This Napa Cabernet is extremely well-balanced and elegant. You can drink now, but the wine will continue to evolve in the bottle, making it a perfect wine to cellar. There are only 134 cases produced.