Acumen: Winery on Atlas Peak in Napa touts 2013 Mountainside Cabernet

Steve Matthiasson has been on the ground team for Acumen since the brand's inception. He is now winemaker. (Images courtesy of

Named Winemaker of the Year by two publications a few years back, Steve Matthiasson was on the founding team that developed the Acumen project and was recently named winemaker. (Images courtesy of

“ACUMEN” — astute decision making — is a different sort of winery name but maybe it was picked to explain what it took for a team to get this project to make world-class Cabernet Sauvignon off the ground. The vineyards — there are two — are on Atlas Peak in the Vaca range of eastern Napa Valley. Eric Yuan and his family purchased the first vineyard in 2012 and the second in 2013. The project was masterminded by Steve Rea, a business-managerial type with a keen interest in wine, who assembled a dream team that included two top viticulturists — Steve Matthiasson and Garrett Buckland — and esteemed winemaker Denis Malbec. The first vintages were made by Malbec. Following his death this year in a car accident, Matthiasson was moved into the slot. His cred is big: developer with his wife of his own brand, Matthiasson, and Winemaker of the Year in 2012 for Food and Wine magazine and for the San Francisco Chronicle in 2014. Acumen wines are available by getting on a mailing list at the Web site. Click on “members” or “stay in touch” in the upper corners of the homepage and other pages. A tasting salon is in the works in the city of Napa.acumencab2013copy1

Acumen Mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2013, $60: Mountain fruit by definition is dark in color, intense and concentrated, and the skins impart tons of tannin and structure. That’s the formula for this wine times 10. Aromas of dark berries and cherry, red plums and figs have an underpinning of fresh rosemary and espresso. It’s elegant and powerful, and expresses the earthy, mineral-laden tones of mountain fruit in the flavors. Tannins grip the palate. The wine team calls it their finest Mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon to date. It’s 80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon finished with Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot. Alcohol is 14 percent. It was aged 18 months in 72 percent new French oak. See the above link to order it off the Web site.

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