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Rated 99 Points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Helena Dakota Vineyard was aged for 12 months in 100% new French oak. Deep garnet-purple in color, it has a profound yet slightly broody nose to begin, slowly unfurling to reveal wonderfully fragrant notes of wild blueberries, black cherries, dark chocolate and warm cassis, followed by nuances of garrigue, violets, tar and licorice plus a touch of wet stones. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has gorgeous velvety tannins and finely knit freshness supporting generous black and blue fruits, finishing very long and achingly fragrant. Wow.
Rated 98 Points by Jeb Dunnuck
The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Helena Dakota Vineyard is even more concentrated and dense, with a massive core of ripe blackcurrants, crushed stone, leather, tobacco, spicy oak, and graphite, and it has this burning ember-like character that reminds me of a great Hermitage. More medium to full-bodied on the palate, it has remarkable balance, ultra-fine tannins, a great spine of acidity, and one heck of a finish. As with the Helena Montana Vineyard, it's a baby that needs at least 4-5 years of bottle age and will have 30+ years of longevity. It's on par with the finest Bordeaux blends coming out of California today. Rating: 98+
Rated 97 Points by James Suckling
Blueberry and blackberry with pine-cone and violet undertones. Blackcurrants, too. Full-bodied with very chewy yet fine tannins and a long, long finish. Gravel and stone undertones at the end. Velvety texture. Drink in 2023 and onwards.
Anakota Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Helena Dakota Vineyard
Helena Dakota is defined by its power, structure and sophistication. It is an intricate Cabernet Sauvignon that reflects both the terroir of the site and the influence of the surrounding Knights Valley AVA. It possesses layers of plums, anise, cassis, leather, bay leaf and cedar. Galvanized by a streak of minerals and bold tannins. Helena Dakota is a solidly-built wine that stands the test of time.
Fragrant, opulent, and complex, bursting with fresh blueberry and black currant, Crème de Violette, and subtle fresh bay leaf aromatics. The palate is luxurious and rich, perfectly balancing this wine’s firm structure.
Elevation: 750 Feet
Soil: Red-brown silt loam
Vineyard: Deep roots, larger vines
Cellar Ageing: 20 Years
Helena Dakota Vineyard
This sloping, 12-acre vineyard runs southwest to northeast at roughly 750 feet above sea level. It features soft, reddish brown, gravelly, silt loam soils speckled with rocks. Prevailing westerly winds blow over a large pond and continue uphill parallel to the rows of vines. These cooling breezes slow the ripening process creating wines that are both powerful and balanced with red fruit flavors, notable minerality and graceful tannins. Pierre says the Cabernet from Helena Dakota remind him of Pauillac or Saint-Estèphe.
2018 Vintage Notes
"Replenishing winter rains ushered an exceptional start to the 2018 growing season, leading to a lengthy budbreak and flowering, with nearly perfect fruit-set throughout a cool spring. Warm weather and bright sunshine settled in by June, but the nights remained very cool, and the season progressed without any major heat spikes. These ideal conditions continued well into the fall, leading to even ripening of tannins, sugar levels, and acidity. The 2018 Helena Dakota is characteristically fragrant, opulent, and complex, bursting with fresh blueberry and black currant, Crème de Violette, and subtle fresh bay leaf aromatics. The palate is luxurious and rich, perfectly balancing this wine’s firm structure, and driving to a long finish of dark baking chocolate and luscious dark fruit." Pierre Seillan, Vigneron
“I consider Knights Valley to be one of the best places in the world to grow Cabernet Sauvignon.”
“Knights Valley is the last AVA on the east side of Sonoma County. The valley cuts through the Mayacamas Mountains and offers an open window to the Pacific Ocean. It’s warmer than other AVAs in Sonoma County, but you always have a cool ocean breeze from the west. The vines breathe really well in Knights Valley.”
Knights Valley is a remote winegrowing region bridging Sonoma and Napa Counties. It’s an untamed landscape defined by rugged mountains, steep hillsides, placid meadows, and abundant wildlife. Even though this AVA has produced some of the world’s greatest wines, it is still a mystery to most. Set along the flanks and foothills of Mount St. Helena and the Mayacamas Mountains, this rustic sanctuary possesses the sparse volcanic soils and ideal climate needed to produce elegant, profound and age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignons.
The History of Knights Valley
In 1843, Knights Valley – or Mallacomes Valley as it was called back then – was a part of the 17,742-acre land grant to Jose de los Santos Berryessa. After taking possession of the property, Berryessa built an adobe lodge for his guests and used the land as a private hunting preserve. After the Mexican-American war, Thomas B. Knight, a Vermont immigrant and participant in the Bear Flag Revolt, bought 9,000 acres of Mallacomes Valley and added a second story to the lodge.
In 1858 and 1861, Calvin Holmes and his wife purchased a sizable portion of Knights Valley and erected a large Victorian house that still stands today. In 1875, real estate barons F.E. Kellogg and W.A. Stuart began developing a small resort town at the intersection of Ida Clayton Road and Highway 128. The town, which included a general store, school, homes and a hotel, burned down in the fires of 1964 and 1965.
Up until Prohibition, wine grapes were the largest agricultural crop in Knights Valley. From 1919 until the 1970s, the population declined, and the region regressed into a more bucolic state. In the mid-1970s, Knights Valley was rediscovered, and vineyards were planted by savvy winemakers looking for new sources of high-quality fruit. Today there are more than 30 growers and 2,000 acres of vines strewn throughout Knights Valley.
The story of Anakota begins deep in the heart of Knights Valley in rural Sonoma County. Located in an ancient volcanic zone, this relatively untouched and unknown place offers incredibly unique and diverse soils with a climate perfectly suited to Bordeaux varietals.
Sourced from estate-owned vineyards, Anakota is a collection of wines that embody the rustic elegance and spirit of rural Sonoma County.
Rising more than 4,000 feet above sea level, Mount St. Helena looks down on our estate-owned vineyards which are quietly situated on the rugged flanks of the Mayacamas Mountain Range.
"I was amazed when I first saw Anakota. The gentle, southwest-facing slopes looked ideal for vineyards. The surrounding vegetation indicated the soils were low in nutrients and high in minerals. I could smell the intense character of the native grasses, thick underbrush and groves of trees. It was clear this had the potential to be a great site for grapes."
Back in the late 1990s, we began exploring new locations to grow Grand Cru-level Cabernet Sauvignon. Our goal was to find a site that could deliver the opulence and concentration of Napa coupled with the acidity, precision and age-worthiness of Sonoma. We found the perfect site in the Knights Valley AVA, a little-known wine region that earned AVA status in 1983. We named our ranch Anakota and in 1997 began surveying the terrain, analyzing the soils and planting vines.
Today, under the direction of Vigneron Pierre Seillan, we produce small quantities of single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons from our two hillside estate vineyards: Helena Dakota and Helena Montana, as well as a blended Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Over his half-century of winemaking, Pierre has developed and refined his proprietary “micro-cru” farming/winemaking principles. Based on experience, observation, experimentation and intuition, this system considers that every vineyard is an intricate patchwork of soils, microclimates, exposures and elevations. Rather than treat each site as a single entity, Pierre divides each property into small blocks and sub-blocks. These vineyards-within-vineyards – often as small as one acre – are designed to mirror the subtle changes in the soils, terrain and microclimates. These micro-crus are farmed individually to ensure uniformly ripe grapes that bear the message of the soil. Each micro-cru is harvested and vinified separately. Two wines vinified from identical clones and rootstocks, but originating in radically different micro-crus, will produce radically different wines.
Pierre Seillan, Vigneron
"We’re always looking for the next perfect wine or great vineyard. That prospect of making something really spectacular, discovering something new is what motivates me."
In France, the traditional vigneron farms a small estate vineyard and makes wines from those grapes. Rather than specializing in either viticulture or winemaking, as is typical in California, the vigneron has an intimate relationship with both the land and the cellar. Pierre is Anakota’s vigneron.
At the age of 14, Pierre Seillan aspired to be a farmer. By the age of 16, he was running the family farm in Gascony in the southwest of France. A beautiful property with a mix of crops, livestock and vineyards, the Seillan property was one of the only estates in the region planted to Bordeaux grapes, a seemingly minor detail that would figure prominently in Pierre’s future. He eventually left Gascony to pursue a career in winemaking, first at Château de Targé in the Loire Valley and later managed seven different Bordeaux châteaux from Saint-Émilion to St. Estèphe.
Pierre met Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke in the mid-1990s and emigrated to Sonoma County to make terroir-based wines from their extensive acres of vineyards. Anakota gives Pierre the opportunity to create two classically-structured, multifaceted Cabernet Sauvignons from two superb vineyard sites in Knights Valley. Pierre finds great freedom in producing pure and honest expressions of Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as the wines are unblended.
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