92 pts. - 2013 Aiken Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville
The real stars are Aiken's Cabernet Sauvignons,of which there are two, one from Oakville and one from Rutherford. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville, which is 100% Oakville Ranch and 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 70% new French oak, comes from the red hillside soils on the Napa's east side -- the lower Vaca Mountains. This wine exhibits plenty of Christmas fruitcake, baking spices, licorice, incense, and black and red currant fruit. It is medium to full-bodied, Pauillac-like, and has good, sweet tannin in the finish. Drink it over the next 15+ years.
95 pts. - 2013 Aiken Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford
The superstar in the portfolio is the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford, which comes entirely from the well-known Morisoli Vineyard in Rutherford. Aged in 100% new French oak, it's not a big cuvée (only 105 cases), but exhibits a dense purple color and a beautiful nose of white flowers, damp earth, forest floor, blackberries and blackcurrant fruit. Some graphite also makes an appearance, as does some underbrush. This is a beauty -- full-bodied, multi-dimensional, and capable of lasting 20 or more years.
92 pts, two puffs - 2013 Aiken Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville
In terms of its ample substance and tannic frame, this wine is not so much different than its accomplice below, but where the latter is comparatively tight-fisted with its fruit, this one is close to succulent and juicy with a generous dollop of sweet oak and savory spice making it all the more appealing yet. That is not to say that it should be opened and drunk down any time soon for its very rich flavors are underlain by plenty of firm tannin, and it promises to be all the more interesting and far-ranging with a half-decade of age than it is now.
92 pts, two puffs - 2012 Aiken Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
Joel Aiken's Sonoma Mountain bottlings are cut from a bolder piece of cloth than his effort from the Fiddlestix Vineyard, and if that other wine can be counted on to age well, the two from a more northerly clime will not only improve in the bottle but also demand a good deal of patience. This one is nominally the riper of the two yet its light and lively feel and emerging suppleness do not have a whit of excess and it wants a half-decade or so of quiet patience to gain added refinement.
91 pts, two puffs - 2013 Aiken Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Boasting a generous measure of ripe red cherry fruitiness as its opening act, this full-bodied, nicely concentrated effort adds in notes of strawberry preserves and creamy oak in aromas that stay wholly on point and lead to potent, fully consistent flavors from entry to finish. The wine has a near-velvety, tailored texture that belies its youth and its ability to age well for several years to come, and we would recommend that the urge to enjoy this one now be held in check for another day.
93 pts. - 2012 Aiken Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very enticing aromas of Bing cherry and spice cabinet holding up over time in the glass. Deep flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and blackberry dance on the palate, accented with floral intricacy and complimentary oak, finishing with purpose. The healthy mountain tannins are nicely concealed and the overall impression is one of great harmony.
92 pts. - 2013 Aiken Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Conservative aromas of black cherry, blackberry jam and toasty oak lead to plenty of ebullient black cherry and blackberry fruit flavors backed by matched fine-grain tannins and a waft of oak. More ripeness, sappiness, oak imprint and generosity on the finish compared to the 2012 vintage of this wine.
91 pts. - 2013 Aiken Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. An array of dark red and black berry aromas infused with graphite and woodland scents greet the nose. The middleweight flavors of dark red and purple berries are framed by wellhoned tannins and judicious oak. Noticeably vigorous on the attack with a welcome intensity on the finish that offers gratifying length. Very similar to the Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noirs in style, but this wine has its own cachet. Still redeeming the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 91
92 pts. - 2012 Aiken Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville
A beautiful 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville shows notes of toasty oak, licorice, forest floor, blackcurrants, and a bit of chocolate in a full-bodied, dense, rich, yet supple and drinkable style. It very much mirrors the beautiful fruit and drama of this vintage, which is showy already. Drink it over the next 10-15 years.
90 pts. - 2012 Aiken Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford is a more elegant, downsized version compared to the Oakville. There are some dusty, loamy soil, cedarwood, tobacco leaf and red and
blackcurrant fruit notes. It's lovely, ripe and can be drunk now or aged for up to a decade.
90 pts. - 2012 Aiken Pinot Noir Sonoma Moutain
Waxy cherry and pomegranate invite the senses before a taste of dried cranberry wafts in, layering itself on top of velvety, silky tannins. Juicy and well-composed, it hails from an appellation not known for the variety. In the hands of this producer, also a fine craftsman of Cabernet, this wine simply sings. — V.B.
91 pts. - 2012 Aiken Pinot Noir Sonoma Moutain
Dense and intense, pleasantly earthy and tarry, with crushed rock, graphite, blackberry, black licorice, cedar, anise and tar flavors remaining complex, distinctive and captivating. Drink now through 2023. 280 cases made. –JL
92pts. - Aiken 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville).
A study in dusty tannins and crisp, classic cassis and cranberry, this wine offers plenty of the beloved herbaceousness of old-school Cabernet, along with a soft-hearted structure and compelling notes of violet and soy. Medium-bodied, it’s enjoyable now but has the legs to age through 2026. Cellar Selection. —V.B.
92 pts. - 2011 Aiken Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford, Napa Valley
Joel Aiken spent 27 years making wine for Beaulieu Vineyard before leaving to start his eponymous label. His third release of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Morisoli Vineyard, surrounded on three sides by Inglenook, is a successful portrait of both site and vintage. It’s dark ruby in the glass with aromas of tart red and black cherries, cinnamon, smoke, clove, charcoal and garrigue. The fresh, nearly full-bodied palate shows gentle tannins of very fine grain and chalk. It tastes of chewy black cherry, charred wood, dark spice, unsweetened chocolate and espresso. This is a very savory and darkly masculine wine to go with grilled steak today or evolve nicely in the cellar for 12+ years.
94 pts. - 2010 Aiken Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
Connoisseur's Guide To California Wine, April 2014
This very deep, wonderfully well-focused young Cabernet is again a complex wine, but it is driven first and last by impressively concentrated, curranty fruit that is more than up to the task of buffering its ample tannins. It is a fairly sturdy and extracted working that needs to be hidden away for many years before drinking, but it very clearly has the right stuff to reward optimistic keeping, and it should emerge in fine shape from a decade-long sleep.
Aiken and 2010 Aiken Pinot Noir (92 points) featured in Wine Spectator
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Wine Advocate on current Aiken Releases
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Joel Aiken Launches New Ventures
Napa Valley Register 8/15/13
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92 pts. - 2010 Aiken Pinot Noir Sonoma Mountain
Wine Spectator 12/31/12
Rich and muscular, showing great density, concentration and range of flavors. Offers mineral-laced dark berry, roasted herb and lavender notes that show touches of smoke, with chewy tannins on the finish. Should only get better. Best from 2013 through 2023. 149 cases made. –JL
92 pts. - 2009 Aiken Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford
Wine Enthusiast 2/1/2013
Atypical of a Rutherford Cabernet, this is in fact unlike most of today’s expensive Cabernets from anywhere in Napa Valley. It’s aggressively tannic and dry, and it seems emulate an older style, though the alcohol is considerably higher than anything from the old days. With a core of blackberries and black currants, it may well develop bottle complexity over the years. — S.H.
2009 Aiken Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain
92 points - Cellar Selection
Wine Enthusiast 2/1/2013
Veteran winemaker Joel Aiken marches to a different beat from today's cult style, reverting to an older expression of Napa Valley Cabernet. This one is bone dry, tannic and tightly wound in acids. It will not offer much pleasure now, even after decanting. It needs to be aged, and judging by the intense core of blackberries, cherries and minerals, it will easily negotiate the next 10–15 years. Cellar Selection. —S.H.