2018 Ink Grade, Andosol, Napa Valley, California, USA

2018 Ink Grade, Andosol, Napa Valley, California, USA

Product: 20188175463
Prices start from £87.00 per bottle (75cl). Buying options
2018 Ink Grade, Andosol, Napa Valley, California, USA

Buying options

Available for delivery or collection. Pricing includes duty and VAT.


The Ink Grade Andosol has to be one of the most exiting Napa Valley field blends I’ve tasted in recent years. An incredible blend that each year is unique depending on the quality of fruit, but for me personally the 2018 vintage hits the spot perfectly. On first impressions the wine isn’t overly bold or intense like you may find in many other Californian field blends, the Andosol it built of incredibly mountain Zinfandel which displays incredible silky tannins.

When tasting with Carlton he described the tannins in with ‘It’s like carving marble and finishing up with a smoothy ball’. The fruit is high quality Cherry and Cassis on the forefront of the palate with refreshing well balanced acidity offering a good decade and half of potential ageing. In short: This wine took me massively by surprise and is not one to be overlooked!

Drink 2023 - 2038 

Cameron Gates, Account Manager, Berry Bros. & Rudd

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Critics reviews

Wine Advocate92/100

Cherry, cassis and pine notes mark the nose of the 2018 Andosol, a blend of 80% Zinfandel and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Matured largely in tank and foudre, it's medium to full-bodied on the palate, framed by silky tannins, then finishes long and bright, with plenty of red fruit and mouthwatering acids.

Drink 2023 - 2033

Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate (March 2023)

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James Suckling93/100

A blend of Zinfandel, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot. From biodynamically grown grapes with Demeter certification.

A firm and polished red with cranberry, blackberry and crushed stone character. It’s clear and bright with a darkness and tension. Shows flowers and spices at the end with some dried potpourri and peppercorn. From vineyards in Howell Mountain. Aged three years in cask.

Drink or hold

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (March 2023)

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About this WINE

Ink Grade

Ink Grade

Precariously clinging to the side of Howell Mountain in Napa Valley, Ink Grade is a newly founded estate with historic vines that genuinely express their terroir. The property’s history goes back to 1873 when Ulysses S. Grant signed over a land deed for the site located on Howell Mountain. Ink Grade was once part of Heitz Cellar. Heitz purchased the property in 1989 and planted it in 1990 and 1991. Most of the fruit was sold to other producers under the Heitz family, but the brilliance of the Howell Mountain terroir spoke loudly, and in 2020, the property was launched as a standalone project.

The wines are crafted to showcase richness without heaviness, to represent a sense of place! - “Ink Grade is important for upholding the region’s heritage and the excitement of discovering beautiful vineyard locations, hidden like gems within this Valley. The wines showcase the direct relationship between the volcanic soil of Howell Mountain and the purity of the fruit it produces,” says Carlton McCoy. “A true artefact of a place, Ink Grade is truly a grand cru of Howell Mountain.”

Matt Taylor is the winemaker; having joined in 2020, he brings vast experience, having held positions at Joseph Swan along with Domaine Dujac. His lightness of touch with the likes of Pinot Noir has adapted perfectly to this world-class terroir. “Terraced on the extreme slopes of Howell Mountain, Ink Grade Estate possesses a raw tension that renders fruit of immense intensity and depth. If ever there was a site which imparted a feeling of reverence, Ink Grade is such a place.” — Matt Taylor, Winemaker.

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Howell Mountain

Howell Mountain

Howell Mountain is situated in the eastern hills of the Napa Valley and is known for producing some of California’s most sought-after and acclaimed wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals. What sets it apart is its significant elevation. Vineyards in Howell Mountain typically range from 1,400 to 2,200 feet (425 to 670 meters) above sea level, providing a unique microclimate influencing the grapes’ growing conditions.

The higher elevation results in cooler temperatures than the valley floor. The mountain’s vineyards often experience cooler evenings, benefiting grape ripening. The temperature variation between day and night, known as diurnal temperature variation, helps grapes develop complex flavours while retaining good acidity.

While the elevation and volcanic soils offer distinct advantages, they also present challenges, including cooler temperatures that can delay ripening, steep slopes that require careful vineyard management, and irrigation due to lower rainfall at higher elevations.

The region’s soils are mainly volcanic, with a mix of rocky, well-draining soils. These volcanic soils contribute to the region’s distinct terroir, often imparting mineral notes and a unique character to the wines. The rocky terrain also requires vine roots to penetrate deeply in search of water and nutrients, leading to concentrated flavours in the grapes.

While Howell Mountain is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, it also produces other Bordeaux varietals, including Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Zinfandel and Chardonnay are also grown in smaller quantities.

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Zinfandel is California`s most distinctive red grape and is one of the few that is considered one of their "own", even though it originated in Europe.

Although it has been grown in California for well over a century, it took the popularity of white ("blush") Zinfandel in the mid 1980s to persuade growers to retain their Zinfandel vines and indeed to plant more. Within 10 years, plantings had doubled and Red Zinfandel had become a Californian icon.

It is grown all across California though seems to perform best in meso-climates, which combine hot days and cool nights. It has a worrying tendency to ripen unevenly, leaving the producer with a sort of viticultural catch-22 - if he harvests too soon then he has green, unripe grapes, too late and he has dried out raisiny grapes.

After vinification, Zinfandel wines are often matured in American oak, which gives them a vanilla dimension. There is no single flavour character that can be associated with the grape - it can produce light, jammy, almost Beaujolais-type wines, redolent of freshly crushed berries, through to full-bodied, robust, oak aged wines brimming with ripe, peppery, cassis-like fruits. The best can age marvellously.

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