Mission Codename Lil’ Lillie
“Dan Petroski continues to bring greater clarity and precision to the Larkmead wines. The 2015s are terrific, but the 2016s are even more expressive and layered. As always, these Calistoga wines pack a serious punch.” - Antonio Galloni
The legend returns!!
LARKMEAD!! Collectors! Level up your stash with this gem. If you’re like us, you’ve been seeking moments of blissful respite this year by cherry-picking some of the more outstanding wines from your collection. Well here’s one you NEED in your YOLO, drink with abandon, live your best life rotation.
HUGE scores – like 4 in the 94-96 range. And of course, best price in the country - who else can bring you a rockstar wine like this for 42% off?!!
Wait, hold the press! As if all that wasn’t enough pizzazz, THIS fresh teaser just hit our inbox from the UPCOMING Wine Spectator: “Sitting in the Lark Room and Gallery at Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga, Calif., winemaker Dan Petroski is surrounded by old bottles, artifacts and ephemera from the winery’s 125 years of history. They’re a glimpse into Napa’s past, but Petroski is focused on Larkmead’s future… His goal is to reposition Larkmead to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the seminal Cabernet estates in Napa Valley… Results of recent Wine Spectator blind tastings point to Petroski’s success, with all of the Larkmead Cabernets and the Merlot blend Firebelle earning outstanding scores.”
Leaving us with very few words to add…
Despite being one of the oldest wineries in Napa alongside Beaulieu, Inglenook, and Beringer, winemaker Dan Petroski says “we’re the most famous winery you’ve never heard of.” And if Napa had Bordeaux-like classifications they’d be a frontrunner for First Growth status. Perhaps not the flashiest or most expensive - but they are among the most treasured by collectors.
Larkmead is also home to one of the most prolific plots of land in the entire region. Centuries worth of alluvial flow deposited ancient riverbed gravel, clay and loam across their land, making for a perfect canvas to cultivate powerful, complex wines. Robert Parker noted how they “continue to prove irrefutably what a first growth terroir Larkmead possesses.” And winemaker Dan Petroski, who cut his teeth at DuMOL before setting out with his own label Massican, makes it all possible.
Anyways, let’s dive into this wine. The Merlot dominant blend delivers bigtime complexity. Dark red cherry, brambly raspberry, roasted coffee beans, licorice, shaved bittersweet chocolate, and a nice savory herb touch. Beautiful now. Or in ten years. You just can’t go wrong.
If you haven’t noticed by now, we’re leveling up in a serious way this year and in a long string of powerful, high scoring wines, this sits right near the top. Treat yourself… We have a few cases to spare!
Last but not least, the glowing reviews…
96 Points – James Suckling
“Attractive aromas and flavors of black olives and plums. Medium body, firm and silky tannins and a juicy finish. Nice, linear tannins. Turns chewy and muscular. Precise and focused. Give it some time. Drink in 2022.”
95 Points – Wine Enthusiast
“Cellar Selection. Spiky dried herb, wood and cedar join an aromatic invitation of lavender in this lovely, powerful blend of 67% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot, all from the estate. Earthy and fresh in bright underlying acidity, it remains high-toned throughout, expressing currant, clove and cherry cola within well-integrated tannin and oak. Still, there’s nothing wrong with cellaring. Enjoy best from 2021–2026.”
94 Points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“Composed of 67% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Firebelle (White Label) has a seductive nose of spiced black berries, black forest cake, preserved plums and kirsch with touches of eucalyptus, espresso, licorice and dried herbs. Medium to full-bodied, the spiced black fruit flavors completely coat the palate with loads of mint and herbal sparks, framed by plush tannins and just enough freshness, finishing on a lingering aniseed note. Drink 2020-2038.”
94 Points – Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
“The 2016 Firebelle is dense, pliant and super-expressive, with terrific depth and textural resonance. Today, the Firebelle shows more floral and savory notes than it did earlier in the year. Even so, the 2016 is vibrant, focused and full of character. The firm tannins need time to soften, but there is plenty to look forward to. Drink 2021-2036.”
What the Winery Says
2016 'Firebelle' Napa Valley
- Dan Petroski
- 67% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot
- St. Helena, Napa Valley
- 100% Larkmead Estate
- Pleasanton loam (clay)
- 18 months
- 66% new French oak from Bossuet