An Under-The -Radar Cult Gem
Igor Sill’s small production, ultra-premium, Atlas Peak-derived varietals might be some of the best wines flying under the Napa Valley wine radar. But for those in the know, his award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Rosé are heralded as cult favorites. Titans of industry, A-list celebrities, and respected political leaders – those with access to the best – are amongst fans of the label that finds a home on wine lists at lauded establishments such as The French Laundry, Solage Resort, Montecito’s San Ysidro Ranch, and Lucky’s steak house. And when Oakville Grocery sought a label to represent the best of Atlas Peak, it selected Sill Family Vineyards to fill its shelves.
But it’s not only the high quality that attracts. Sill’s ready accessibility is equally appealing. In a culture that increasingly places winemakers on pedestals, Sill remains humble, approachable, and ready to talk wine with whomever is interested. The gregarious and amiable former private equity investor will gladly explain how his passion for Bordeaux wines developed. (The result of an introduction to Château Margaux, Château Latour, and Château Lafite Rothschild in the 1970s.) He’ll share how he worked with Francois Pinault’s Group Artemis for nearly a decade before becoming a Court of Master Sommelier and earning a Masters at Oxford University’s Merton College and studying viticulture at UC Davis. He will detail his work at V. Sattui Winery and Opus One Winery. He will gladly expound on why Atlas Peak wines are the best- and he’s got the awards to prove it.
Sill uses an artisan, Old-World approach in crafting his Bordeaux and Burgundian style wines. “It takes extra work, and many more steps, not to mention that our volcanic, organic vineyards are extremely difficult to plant and farm, but it is worth it,” said Sill. The small size of his vineyard limits production (only 600 cases annually), but it also produces some of the best Cabernet fruit Napa has to offer. Year after year, Sill Family Vineyards wines turn the heads of wine critics and collectors worldwide. Robert Parker extended a 97 points rating to Sill Family Vineyards’ 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon vintage, and Wine Spectator rated it 98 points. Sill’s 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon received the coveted CWSA 2018 Wine of the Year award, the Double Gold Medal.
His vineyards sit at 1,650 on an Atlas Peak plateau, known for its volcanic soils and pure air cleansed by San Francisco Bay breezes. The elevation provides more prolonged sun exposure, greater UV, and cooler nights, characteristics that serve to create wines that are considerably different from those produced within the valley floor. Longer hang times produce bolder fruit, with greater red-fruit characteristics. Atlas Peak wines, and specifically Sill Family Vineyards wines, are defined by profound complexity, depth, elegance, and character. “Winemakers believe that the land speaks to us of possibilities,” said Sill. “My sole ambition is to fully express those possibilities, capturing the very best of what Atlas Peak’s magical land offers.”
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Article By: Fran Miller