Marston Vineyard perches on the slopes of Spring Mountain to the west of St. Helena, just a few miles uphill from the site of the Beringer brothers’ original St. Helena Home vineyard. The restrictive soil, mostly stony loam, produces grapes with highly developed fruit flavors. Within the vineyard, the terrain rises from 1,900 to 2,000 feet, varying between steep, terraced slopes to gently rolling land. The 2000 Marston Cabernet has perfumed scents of violets and wild blueberries, with lots of spice and a touch of Spring Mountain “dust,” giving it a distinctive earthy, mineral quality. Its firm tannins support concentrated red and black fruit flavors into a long finish. 200 cases produced.
Overall, the 2000 Napa Valley growing season was very cool and moderate, save for a few advantageous warm spells. Bud-break and fruit-set was normal. Moderately warm, sunny days from June to September kept the clusters’ development on-track through a pleasant summer. As harvest approached, Ed and his winemaking partner, Laurie Hook, decided when to pick individual blocks in each vineyard by flavor. “Because of the cool vintages that preceded 2000, we were especially attentive to what was happening in the vineyards,” explained Laurie. “It made for a lot of running around, visiting each site regularly to see how the vines were doing, how the grapes were progressing, etc. And we waited for what seemed like an eternity before we finally made the call to bring each lot in.” Ed concurred: “I think our 2000 Cabs benefited greatly from our time out there. We collaborated with our vineyard team, deciding to thin crop in many areas, and these factors, combined with the added complexity from another year of age on the vines, helped us make wines that I think are better than our 1999’s."
With Cabernet of this quality, Ed and Laurie take a minimalist approach to winemaking. They use gentle pump-over techniques during fermentation for optimal extraction and then age the wines in hand-selected, custom-toasted barrels of new French Nevers oak from coopers with whom Ed has long-established relationships. “I buy barrels from several coopers for these wines,” he explains. “Oak can be as individual as grapes, and different coopers bring out different nuances just as winemakers do. Some barrels are spicier, some have more caramel and vanilla notes.” The wines are put through 100-percent malolactic fermentation for added complexity and softness, and then aged for nearly two years before bottling.