#7: The 2011 Linked Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley

Wine Spectrum’s #7 Wine of 2015

2011 Linked Vineyards (Available Online)

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Knights Valley

Wine Spectrum Rated 96: The 2011 vintage is a wine that is deep, rich and complex.  At first glance, the wine’s color is strikingly dark and intense.  The nose reveals a medley of aromas.  Red fruits and blackberries intermingle with bits of cocoa, allspice and bay.  The flavor shows another level of complexity and sheer joy in a glass.  Notes of olallieberry, blackberry and dark plum are interspersed with hints of vanilla bean, violet, nutmeg and star anise.  The tannins are lithe and effortless.  Soft, round, seductive, the finish lingers on the tongue.  While this wine can be cellared for a decade or more, why put it away?  It’s so deliciously drinkable now! Just 121 cases produced. 

What makes a good wine story? Is it the people? The place? The grapes? The name? The wine itself? For Linked Vineyards, it’s all of these.

Perched on a hillside on the southwestern edge of Knight’s Valley, the Linked Vineyards property overlooks both Napa and Sonoma counties. To say this is a special place is an understatement!

Occupying a very interesting intersection between the valleys, and sitting just above the fogline, the property is a study in juxtaposition. Volcanic and loamy soils. Marine and mountain air. Wildlands and orderly vineyards. It is home to deer, wild turkeys and hawks, as well as three generations of Links.


Ken Link bought this property with the hope of creating a family legacy. So far, it’s working. His daughter Jessica was in college at the time he bought it. Realizing that no one in the family had any idea how to plant or manage a vineyard, let alone make wine, Jessica switched her major at Sonoma State to Wine Business. Ken and Jessica quickly enrolled in every viticulture class they could find, researched the characteristics of their special corner of Knight’s Valley and consulted experts in vine selection and planting. The west-facing slope with a view of the approaching fog from the Pacific turned out to be a perfect site for Cabernet. Planted in 2000, Linked Vineyards began to take shape.

A few years later Jessica fell in love with Drew Johnson, a vineyard manager at Beringer. They were married under the spreading oaks and majestic madrones on the property. Now part of the Link family, Drew’s knowledgeable and steady hand has guided the development of the vineyard into one that is growing world-class fruit. Drew oftentimes goes to the vineyard as the sun is rising, before heading off to work. On weekends, Jessica and their kids, Nick and Shelby, join him to help tend the vines and share rides on the pooper scooper, spreading compost and manure in the vineyard.

After years of these family outings, the vines had matured and the grapes were showing the quality they wanted to produce their own wine in 2007. With a stroke of luck, Jessica and Drew connected with Luc Morlet, consulting winemaker at Peter Michael (an icon of Knight’s Valley Cabernet,) who was looking for grapes for his own family label, Morlet Family Vineyards. He was a perfect match for what they wanted to do, and was excited to make the wine. While the vineyard encompasses 16 acres, Drew and Luc identified a small 3 acre section in Shelby’s Block to pick the grapes for the Linked Vineyards Cabernet. This small plot is the steepest hill in the vineyard and is characterized by rocky volcanic soils that stress the vines, resulting in fewer but more intensely flavored grapes.

While the Linked Vineyards name clearly has ties to the family name, it means much more. It represents all the links that created the wine; the unique site, the family, the winemaker and all the friends who pitch in and support them. Jessica and Drew hand number each bottle, and record who acquires each one. So, you will always have a link to Linked Vineyards, and they to you.

Article sourced from linkedvineyards.com


It’s that time of year again…

…when everyone publishes their top cars, movies, books, TV shows, and wines of the year. Wine Enthusiast (#1 San Felice 2011 Il Grigio Gran Selezione Chianti Classico) revealed theirs, and Wine Spectator (# 1 Peter Michael Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Au Paradis’) unveiled theirs. Now it’s time to release ours.

Over the next few weeks we will be releasing our lists of the top wines that we tasted in 2015. We took the thousands of wines that we tasted and narrowed it down to the best of the best. Our rankings are based upon our staff’s ratings during tastings, as well as popularity with our clients.  Lucky for us – and you – most are currently available.

Q. Why should I pay attention to the Wine Spectrum score?

A. The reason is simple. We taste and score wines with our entire sale’s team – the owner, the wine buyer, the sales manager, and all of our sale’s advisors. It’s not only one person’s opinion and rating of the wine, but a total average of the whole tasting panel. That adds up to  decades of combined tasting experience to ensure that we bring only the BEST wines to our clients. 

It is because of this and many other factors that our clients have come to respect our score and use it to help determine what wines they want to procure for their cellars and display on their tables. At Wine Spectrum you get a much better representation of how people will ENJOY a wine.

2015 wines of the year release schedule


December Schedule

12/10: #10#9, and #8 ranked wines

12/11: #7#6, and #5 ranked wines

12/14: #4 and #3 ranked wines

12/15: #2 ranked wine

12/16: #1 ranked wine

12/18: #11 – #25 ranked wines

12/21: #26 – #50 ranked wines

12/21: 2015 Winemaker of the Year

12/22: #51 – #75 ranked wines

12/23: #76 – #100 ranked wines


January Schedule

1/4: Top Chardonnay’s of the Year

1/7: Top Pinot Noir’s of the Year

1/11: Top Cabernet Sauvignon’s of the Year

1/14: Top Other Domestic Red’s of the Year

1/18: Top International Wines of the Year

1/21: Top Wines of the Year under $60


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