A towering figure in a Houston Rockets uniform, NBA superstar Yao Ming always came to play against my Seattle Supersonics. I adored going to Sonics games in my youth, following some amazing teams with Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton. The Houston Rockets, one of their main rivals, drafted a relatively untested center named Yao Ming in 2002 with the first pick in the NBA draft. This became a serious coup for the Rockets and a huge challenge for other NBA centers to deal with Yao’s offensive and defensive abilities — and his 7’7’’ frame. Yao became an NBA sensation and one of the best players in the league, finally retiring after a series of injuries in 2011.
Yao saw a great opportunity in launching Yao Family Wines that same year. Yao Family Wines sources from a host of great Napa Valley vineyards. The grapes are fermented and then aged up to 18 months in 100% French oak barrels and the best lots are then chosen for the final blend. I was very impressed with their new release wines which come from what is showing to be an exceedingly good 2015 vintage. Look to the outstanding 2015 Yao Family Wines ‘Family Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon (WWB, 94) which has a massive core, great tension and is drinking marvelously right now. Learn more about these stunning new wines at yaofamilywines.com
2015 Yao Family Wines ‘Napa Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon- The 2015 Yao Ming ‘Napa Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon is a silky blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, all aged in 100% French oak (65% new) for 18 months. Once in the glass the wine begins to slowly unveil creme de cassis, Turkish coffee, tar and spicebox aromatics that impress. The palate is silky smooth, delivering a really good combination of tension and mouthfeel. Black fruits dance with licorice and allspice flavors on the palate. Seductive, yet mineral driven, this will cellar marvelously over the next two decades. Drink 2018-2035- 93
2015 Yao Family Wines ‘Family Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon- The ‘Family Reserve’ by Yao Family Wines is a compelling blend of 95% Cabernet, 3% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot that was aged for 24 months in 100% French oak prior to bottling. Needing more than a one hour decant to fully develop, the wine starts to release creosote, roasted date, creme de cassis and mocha aromatics. The palate shows a seamless texture as well as a plush mouthfeel and bright acidity. Dark chocolate shavings, cigar box, creme de cassis and espresso bean flavors come to mind. Seductive and captivating, this is a truly outstanding age worthy wine by Yao Family Wines. Drink 2019-2040- 94