1996 Cabernet Sauvignon “Once Upon a Time”, Magnum


12.9% Alc. 30 cases produced. 179 magnums available.



At 24+ years of age, this 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon is far from being either senile, old, or tired. In fact, it may still be a good 5-10 years or more away from its “full maturity”. To give you a hint, once opened, it tastes significantly better on day II and day III than on day I (please do try it!). However, at this point it already reveals its real character and inner qualities.

The grapes for this very limited experimental batch came from a tiny section of “Slope 21”, a stand-alone knoll in the Renaissance vineyard with an elongated south-facing shoulder, that offers a perfect exposure and depth of soil for this grape to mature perfectly (here, in North Yuba, we find that our Cabernet is extremely particular about these aspects). This micro-terroir has clearly produced the most complete Cabernet-based wine in that vintage, compared with all the other (70-odd) separate microclimate/soil combinations at that amazing historical vineyard. This experimental batch was bottled exclusively in magnums and has never been released under the Renaissance label.  

It is medium plus bodied, with considerable concentration, density, and solid “architecture” (especially considering that the vintage, 1996, was probably the lightest ever at Renaissance). Initial tightness gives way to warm velvety richness with time and exposure to air. Excellent balance and length, real depth and aromatic complexity. Nothing showy about this one, it just rocks.

Since 2015, we have started to produce a Clos Saron Cabernet Sauvignon from Renaissance’s fabled “Slope 1”. The 2015 vintage,  clearly a relative of the 1996 offered here, shows an unreal concentration and structure, is unlikely to be released before 2024 or 2025.