“This blessed plot, this earth, this realm…” William Shakespeare’s King Richard II

This small vertical looks at The Bard release from Napa Valley’s Realm Cellars, both getting their name from Shakespeare’s historic King Richard II. The Realm portfolio is divided between its single vineyard releases (Farella, Houyi, Beckstoffer Dr. Crane, Beckstoffer To Kalon, and Moonracer) and blends (The Tempest, The Bard, Falstaff, and The Absurd), and their The Bard is by far their largest production cuvee, with over 1,000 cases made in most vintages today. The idea behind The Bard is to showcase the best of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and it normally has fruit from the likes of To Kalon, Dr. Crane, Blair Vineyard, Weitz, and Fortuna, among others. While there are small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and/or Petit Verdot in the blend, it’s always 70% or more of Cabernet Sauvignon brought up in a mix of new and used French oak.

Looking at the vintages reviewed here, there has unquestionably been a subtle shift in the style of this cuvee, with both the 2012 and 2013 possessing a more concentrated, exuberant, sexy profile. Starting with the 2014 and even more obvious in the 2016 and 2017 (as well as the 2018), The Bard shows another level of elegance, purity, and finesse while still packing beautiful depth of fruit. I’m partial to the hedonistic opulence and “je ne sais quoi” qualities of the 2012 and 2013s, yet recent vintages are undeniably great wines that will have long lives.

If you factor in the production level, price (it’s released at $125), and quality, it’s arguably one of the finest Cabernet Sauvignons coming out of Napa Valley today.