Robert Parker Wine Advocate: 2018 Seven Apart Expedition

As seen on Robert Parker, August 2020

Opaque purple-black in color, the 2018 Seven Apart Expedition explodes from the glass with vibrant notes of crème de cassis, crushed black cherries, blackberry preserves and mulberries plus suggestions of clove oil, red roses, plum preserves and sandalwood with a compelling waft of licorice. The big, rich, full-bodied, full-on pedal-to-the-metal palate is absolutely chock-full of black fruit preserves layers and a whole firework display of exotic spices, framed by rock-solid, ripe, rounded tannins and tons of freshness, finishing with epic length. This has a bold, in-your-face style at this stage, which is great if that’s your thing. If you are looking for subtle nuances and savory/earthy characters, I’m confident that this is headed that way, but it will need a good 10 years in the cellar and should continue to evolve over the next 20 years. Only around 1,500 cases were produced.

This is the first vintage of this brand-new project coming from Stag’s Ridge Vineyard, located up on Atlas Peak, and Base Camp Vineyard, located seven miles down the mountain (hence the name). The winemaker here is none other than Andy Erickson, formerly at Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate, currently also consulting winemaker at Dalla Valle (among others).  “I have not worked before with an Atlas Peak Vineyard so high up on the mountain,” Erickson informed me. “What we call our ‘Stag’s Ridge’ vineyard was planted in 1999 and is at 1,400-feet elevation (nearly the same as Stagecoach, Ovid and Continuum, and not far away as the crow flies). It is planted to mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, but with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Seven miles down the road, where Soda Canyon Road meets the Silverado Trail, is the four-acre ‘Base Camp’ vineyard, also where the winery was just finished (at least the production part). Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon there as well, but with some Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This is right where those white, volcanic soils spill into the Valley. ‘Base Camp’ was planted in 1994 and 1998. We also have another five-acre adjacent parcel to the west (closer to the river) where we will most likely plant Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.”  Erickson told me that Seven Apart has three other wines to be released from the Atlas Peak vineyard: “‘Summit’ is a barrel selection of the most impressive lots of the vintage, ‘Basalt,’ a more muscular presentation of the vintage, and ‘Shale,’ which shows the more balanced, feminine side of the property.” These three wines, all small cuvées of around 200-400 cases each, will be bottled after harvest and released next year.

96+ points