Ric Forman is one of the long time, superstar winemakers out of the Napa Valley. I believe his career has now spanned 6 decades. I first tasted his work when he was making the wines at Sterling, starting in 1969. I can tell you first hand his Cabernet based wines were standouts even then.
After a stint at Newton & many different consulting projects, Ric decide to make his own wines under his own label.
Being a highly revered winemaker in the Napa Valley, Ric finally chose his site atop a knoll, just below & contiguous with Howell Mountain.
Surrounded by solid rock, the lower ampitheater-like section looks to be a former river bed, FULL of white-gray gravel, which had been pushed up through the ages. This at least partially explains why his Cabernets are so gravelly in character, rather than being another fruit bomb, which we commonly taste throughout the Valley.
I believe it was in the early 2000’s Ric dynamited the parcel up on top, which was made of hard, solid rock, & planted. Judging by tasting through his various vintages, it seems he included that fruit in the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, as this wine was very different than 2004 & earlier. I am sure one day, these 2 parcels will be bottled separately, as they result in very different wine profiles, as we have tasted out of barrel.
I have been fortunate to taste many of the Forman Cabernets over the years–young & old. They are undoubtedly some of the very best out of California!!! I think it is amazing that where many of Ric’s peers have retired, fallen by the wayside or passed away, Ric is making better wines than ever, whether it is Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon.
1996 Forman Cabernet Sauvignon
Just the other night, we tasted the 1996. I bet most tasters in a blind tasting would have guessed this as older Bordeaux because of its VERY gravelly nose & Old World-like character! We were all amazed at how this 1996 was still so surprisingly youthful, especially in its core. Yes, it had the opulence & ripeness levels of California, when one really stopped & thought about it at some length, but was still very elegant, classy, stylish & superbly well balanced & textured.
I know all of the tasters were wow-ed, as was I. This wine clearly reminded me why Ric Forman is one of the true iconic winemakers out of California!!!!! AND deservedly so……
1995 Forman Cabernet Sauvignon
On yet another night, we tasted the 1995….AND it was absolutely SENSATIONAL!!! Just FULL of gravel, wet stone, graphite character….from smell to taste…….completely permeating thru the long finish. The wine was elegant, highly refined, impeccably balanced & so stunning. WOW!!!!!! Certainly one of the true highlight Californian Cabernets I have had.