2018 Elephant Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – Elephant Mountain Vineyard

Vintage Notes

2018 started out with a late bud break which can be beneficial in frost prone areas, delaying the emergence of tender young green shoots closer to Mother’s Day, the unofficial start of summer in the Columbia Valley. The conversations in the vineyard come June always revolve around “how late or early are we”? The character of the vintage is determined in July and August with the quality coming down to what happens in September and October, so I don’t fret too much about when bud break occurs. Perfect temperatures made up for the late bud break and caught everything up by the beginning of June. Bloom was very even and fast, which is ideal. This translates to a majority of the clusters ripening at the same time come veraison (the time when the berries transition from growth to ripening) and a good fruit set (crop level). This is generally a good thing as long as your crop level is thinned to appropriate levels pre- veraison. Heat didn’t arrive until July, which was perfect timing to help shut down vegetative growth. July was hot but not for extended periods. There seemed to be an on/off switch, which helped the vines recover. This trend continued throughout August and September. Temperatures through September and October were perfect, with a few days in the seventies come the third week in October! We had everything in by the second week of October. These moderate temperatures allowed a slow “braze” of the fruit. I think you could have made any style of Cabernet you wanted with this vintage since the ripening window was so wide. As usual, we made the Pamplin style.

Blend Details

100% Cabernet Sauvignon


100% Rattlesnake Hills


100% Elephant Mountain Vineyard

Aging Profile

20 months in single use (33%) and neutral (67%) French oak barrels

Harvest Dates

October 6, 2018



Release Date

Spring, 2022


58 cases of 750mL bottles

View from the Cellar

The 2018 Elephant Mountain Vineyard bottling from Robert Henry [winemaker] is made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon and saw no new oak during its elevage, as one-third of the oak was “one wine” casks and the remainder neutral barrels. The wine tips the scales at 14.2 percent alcohol in this vintage and delivers a refined aromatic constellation of cassis, sweet dark berries, cigar ash, dark soil tones, hints of the chipotle pepper tones to come with bottle age and a gentle foundation of spicy oak. On the palate, the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and nicely plush at the core, with fine soil signature; ripe, buried tannins; excellent focus and grip and a long, complex and impeccably balanced finish. This is young and will need plenty of time to blossom in the cellar, but is going to be a supremely elegant wine once it is ready to drink. Fine, fine juice. (John Gilman)


Wine Spectator 92 pointsDeeply structured and well-framed, with distinctive dark plum, pencil lead and dusky spice flavors that build brawn toward medium-grained tannins. Drink now through 2030. 58 cases made. (Tim Fish)


Wine Enthusiast 91This is a new offering from the winery, coming from a vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills. Aromas of dark raspberry, cedar, graphite, licorice and herb lead to smooth, textured feeling, well-balanced red and black fruit flavors. It’s delicious, showing this producer’s hallmark sophistication. (Sean P. Sullivan)