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Ashes & Diamonds

The Raconteurs of the ‘New Napa’

In 2013, Jon Bonné published his ground-breaking and, at the time, controversial work, The New California Wine. Bonné’s book brought to light a story previously untold in Californian wine folklore: a groundswell of young, dynamic producers swimming against the tide of bombastic and homogeneous wine that prevailed. The subtitle read: A guide to the producers and wines behind a revolution in taste. This was the book Kashy Khaledi, then an executive at Capitol Records, had been waiting for. Restless in his work and “exhausted by exhausting wines”, Bonné’s book and the wines it described served as his catalyst to take the leap he had been considering for years.

When Khaledi established Ashes & Diamonds in 2014, he took inspiration from his favourite wines made by the great producers of 1950s, 60s and 70s California, including Mayacamas, Mondavi and Inglenook. The blueprint was a return to honest and classical Napa wines of the past, restrained yet compelling wines that spoke clearly of their origins.

Khaledi’s first coup was to hire the services of two of New California’s brightest talents: viticulturist Steve Matthiasson (Stags’ Leap, Spottswoode) and oenologist Diana Snowden Seysses (Robert Mondavi, Domaine Dujac) while securing lease holdings within some prestigious Napa postcodes. Matthiasson and Snowden Seysses share the winemaking and viticultural responsibilities, working closely with small, family-owned vineyards stretching from Santa Cruz to Yountville to make single-vineyard and multiple-site wines. Both are staunch advocates for sustainable viticulture, partnering with growers to create a harmonious relationship between the humans and dirt involved—all sites are farmed organically and are dry-grown where possible. Added to Matthiasson’s high standing within the Napa viticultural community, there’s not usually a lot of arm-twisting required to get growers on board; a rising tide lifts all boats.

In 2017, Ashes & Diamonds found its home in the Oak Knoll District with an impressive vineyard of its own. The custom-built winery was erected the same year. The collaborative approach between Steve and Diana continues—in keeping with their unique winemaking ideas, Matthiasson makes multiple-site wines while Seysses works with single vineyards. The multiple-site wines have a brightness and freshness that immediately appeal. On the other hand, Snowden Seysses’s single-site expressions are more deeply cast, so the winery holds these wines back before release. New oak is generally about 30%, there are no extended macerations, fermentations are natural and nothing is added, including acid. Sulphur is used sparingly.

The wines express sites through the prism of their talented makers. The flagship Cabernet Franc is an ode to the great wines of the Loire Valley, treated as gently as a Pinot Noir and bearing an alcohol level reflecting that approach. The red Bordeaux blends embody Khaledi’s aim to emulate the Napa wines of old; they’re refined, complex and driven by their terroir. Across the portfolio, you will encounter restraint, old-world structure, moderate alcohols, gentle oak influence and deep expression of site. If this is the ‘New Napa’, then count us in.

The Range



Primary Region

Napa Valley, California


Winemakers: Steve Matthiasson, Diana Snowden Seysses



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