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It’s hard not to be excited about securing some of The Mutt. This is practically a cult wine in Northern California, where Napa customers stash cases of this for future pleasure. That leaping dog on the label has pulled down some very fine fruit to pack into this Mastiff of a wine with a puppy dog price. No tricks, no oak chips – just real deal Napa with power to spare.
About the wine
Hoopes is one of Oakville’s most respected producers, known for a powerful core of fruit and tannin and classic styling. These admirable wines have a classic poise and complexity and the last few vintages have been super-impressive. Hoopes is on a star trajectory and so they are moving more wine into their mega-value Hoopla label. Each year, Hoopes Estate gets an extra jolt of intensity and Hoopla gets an upgrade, too. The consumers win, and never has that been more apparent than in the concentrated, studly 2014 vintage. No corners are cut in the making of The Mutt, which approaches blending and aging with the same fanatical quality-mindedness that defines the Oakville program. The only difference is that The Mutt can collect fruit from other great Napa sites to create a dark, dusty blend that seems to combine the earthy power of Rutherford with the glossy black fruit of Oakville and the perfumed lift of Yountville fruit. All together, it’s so impressive that the sticker shock works in reverse! You can’t find a better Napa wine than this for the price. Hats off to Hoopes!
Appellation: Napa Valley
- 93 pts: Jonathan Cristaldi, WSET Advanced
- 93 pts: Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
- 93 pts: Walter Moore, WSET Diploma
- 3.9/5.0: Vivino Users (75 ratings)
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot
Vineyard: Undisclosed Top Napa Vineyards
Cooperage: 18 months in French Oak.
About the winery
Hoopla is the name given to the stellar values provided by the Hoopes Family Estate. For years, Hoopes has been a name building a head of steam among Napa collectors as their Napa and Oakville bottlings continue to scorch the competition in blind tastings. First established in 1983 by wine lover Spencer Hoopes, the vineyard was ten acres in Oakville that quickly found many happy buyers for its fruit. Over time, the Hoopes family recognized that there was something special going on right in their own backyard and began to estate-bottle, saving special rows for their own wine. Collectors immediately pegged it as top Oakville wine, not realizing these were new jack vintners. The reputation of Hoopes began to grow exponentially since then, allowing them to secure more top sources to augment their own estate vineyard.
About the vineyards
One of the challenges of creating a wine like The Mutt is that is over-delivers in such ridiculous fashion that tasters can’t help but speculate about the vineyard sources. Hoopla has to forever remain hush-hush on this front, but it’s easy to wonder when the wine is this good. It’s obvious from tasting that it comes from top sites – the flavors are too concentrated and the structure is rigid and chewy. And you don’t put oak this good on any old fruit. Yet the lips remain tightly sealed – and so we can only speculate where these golden grapes were grown. Ironically enough, one case say that only purebred grapes are ending up in bottles of The Mutt!
About the winemaker
The Hoopes Winemaking Team shares the duties between the estate wine program and the Hoopla label. With a background spread across several countries and many levels of experience from vineyard to cellar, this group has a broad range of expertise to bring to bear on each vintage. That helps explain why the wines are so resolutely rich yet structured. The combined input helps ensure that all Hoopes and Hoopla wines are balanced above all, giving them the complete feel that works best at the table and improves in the cellar. Nothing with their name on it falls apart or disappoints and that reliability has earned them comparisons to Oakville’s old guard of Mondavi, Ramey and Nickel & Nickel. Nice company!
93 pts - Jonathan Cristaldi, WSET Advanced
“With a name like “The Mutt,” you might expect this to be a blend of several grapes—but this feels Cabernet Sauvignon heavy and it delivers all the notes you’d expect from a well-balanced Napa Cab: ripe blackberry and black raspberry fruit aromas; on the palate it’s soft and supple, redolent of juicy dark berry fruit, red currants, and toasty oak. This isn’t a complicated wine, but it is a generous one—having poured a glass, I continued tasting a few others wines, but the aromatics were so pronounced they kept luring me in, beckoning me to take another sip. Pair it with herb-rubbed pork loin or roasted chicken”
93 pts - Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
"Charming and generous with notes of black raspberry and red currants, carried by a velvety yet substantial texture, this Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Napa Valley boasts classic Napa flavor from an outstanding producer at a great value. Its slightly chocolatey finish, plush ripe fruit and earthy aromatics are layered and seamlessly integrated. A highlight of this wine is its lovely overtones of sun-baked lilac, the pretty aromatics of purple flowers course through this wine and add so much dimension. I would recommend enjoying this wine with rich, roasted dishes, its savory notes would complement lamb especially well."
93 pts - Walter Moore, WSET Diploma, CSW
"This is totally my kind of wine in style, flavor and concept; it's serious but fun and super approachable and who doesn't love a mutt! The characteristically dusty toasty Napa nose reminds me of barrel sampling in a deep wine cave. There's layers upon layers of lovely flavors from dark blueberry and black plums to mint chocolate and roasted red peppery spice. It's well balanced and well structured showing signs of Cabernet Sauvignon or Cab Franc in the blend. The finish is fruity, yet dry, ending with delicious coco, coffee and hazelnuts. Reward yourself at the end of a long day by splitting a bottle with your significant other over takeout...something meaty is appropriate like burgers, pizza, or barbecue. Enjoy. Repeat."