99pts Wine Advocate
Realm recently purchased the old Hartwell property, constituting the highest blocks above their already estate-owned Stags Leap District vineyard (the source for Moonracer). The vines planted here originate from budwood acquired by Bob Hartwell (the previous owner) from Dick Grace of Grace Family Vineyards in the 1980s.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Hartwell XX has an irresistibly fragrant nose, opening out to reveal notes of lilacs, Indian spices and fragrant soil over a core of blackcurrant jelly, boysenberries and licorice with a hint of beef drippings. The palate is a big, rich, full-bodied behemoth, with the most gorgeous velvety tannins and fantastic freshness, finishing very long and opulent.
The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Hartwell XX emerges from two blocks on the original Hartwell property planted with the famous Grace clone of Cabernet Sauvignon. A dazzling wine, the XX may very well be the single most moving, expressive Cabernet I have ever tasted from Realm. In the glass, the XX is seamless, with layers of fruit that build effortlessly over time. The 2019 is not a big or opulent wine, but rather a Cabernet of total finesse. I loved it.
97pts James Suckling
There is a real forest floor character to the aromas with citrus rind and lead pencil shaving. Iodine. Oyster shell. Medium to full bodied with really refined tanins with chasmere texture. First year of this and shows the unique character of this tiny hilltop vineyard in Stag’s Leap AVAl. Drink after 2026.
Stags Leap District
Realm SLD Estate. 2+ acres of Cabernet Bosche clone budwood from Grace Family Vineyards; 30+ year-old vines will be replanted over time
Sense of Place
Hilltop vineyard, 360-degree view of Napa Valley; fragmented sandstone; even exposure
Red and black fruit; pedigreed; sleek, sexy and sophisticated
A Legacy Preserved
Hartwell XX is an estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon from blocks at the very top of our property on Wappo Hill. This 2-acre parcel was planted in 1986 by Bob Hartwell, who used cuttings of Grace Family Vineyard’s Bosche clone he had acquired from his friend, Dick Grace. 1990 was the first vintage from those vines, and the early wines of Hartwell Estate Vineyards were made at the Grace winery. Realm was given the opportunity to purchase these blocks in 2020, having acquired nearly 20 acres from the Hartwell family in 2015.
As Hartwell’s winemaker, Benoit had made a separate wine from these upper blocks for many years. Although our inclination could have been to simply fold these blocks into Moonracer, Benoit knew from experience that the Cabernets from the upper and lower blocks are quite distinct. When Benoit had Scott taste the upper block wines going back to the 1990s, the difference was obvious. The Grace/Bosche clone is part of that, but the soils up top are also different, more homogenous with pure, fragmented sandstone. And because the top is relatively flat, the exposure is more uniform than the lower hillside blocks.
The 2020 purchase of acreage included the 2018 and 2019 wines from these blocks, and we will continue to make Hartwell XX – named in part for the year we purchased the land - as a separate wine. The blocks need to be replanted, and our plan is to expand a bit to create five one-acre blocks, each one planted to a different Napa Valley heritage clone - the second origin of the XX name. One acre will consist of the Grace/Bosche clone, preserved from clean budwood. There’s a legacy here we want to honor, a continuity that goes all the way back to the relationship between the Grace and Hartwell families.