2018 Checkerboard Kings Row remains an expression of the Aurora Vineyard which is located in a small valley midway up Diamond Mountain on a large knoll at an elevation of 1,200 feet. The knoll projects off the mountainside, giving the vineyard full southern exposure, open light from the east and west, and protection from Napa Valley’s summer fog. Six acres are planted in the knoll’s rich, volcanic soils that are riddled with basalt cobble and loamy clay. The remaining six acres are planted in a deep gravely mix of white volcanic ash and chips of decomposed Rhyolite that were washed down from the steep, rocky crags of Diamond Mountain above. 2018 Checkerboard Kings Row exhibits all the markers of a classic Cabernet. The nose is fresh and laced with cherry, black currant, and red spice that combine in a dazzling array of flavors on the palate to include wild blueberries, crispy sage, white flowers, baking spice and paprika. There’s a lively, vibrant backbone and tannins that extend through to the finish.
A blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot, and 3% Petite Verdot, the wine is even more complex and structured than the 2008, very well balanced with black fruit, milk chocolate, oak spice and a ripe, supple, lush texture, finishing with tighter tannins.