This single-vineyard bottling showcases the stellar fruit of Hewitt Vineyard on Napa Valley’s Rutherford bench. We harvest each vineyard section separately, as it reaches full ripeness, and adjust our winemaking to its character. Partial fermentation in new French oak barrels integrates tannins and develops plush texture. A high percentage of new French oak barrels complements the intensity of dark-fruit flavors. This deeply flavored, full-bodied wine pairs elegantly with beef tenderloin, herb-crusted lamb with wild mushroom risotto, braised short ribs, or whatever excites your palate.
This outstanding vineyard site on the Rutherford Bench has yielded grapes for many celebrated Napa Valley wines since 1880. The current vines were planted in the well-drained alluvial soils in 1992 and 1996 and budded to Cabernet Sauvignon clones 4, 7 and 8 for flavor diversity and concentration. Winemaker Tom Rinaldi harvests each section of Hewitt Cabernet Sauvignon separately, as it reaches optimum ripeness, and matches winemaking techniques to the character of each.
Although winter and spring rainfall during the 2009 growing season was only about two-thirds of normal, the timing of the rains was excellent for the vines. Our Merlot vines completed budbreak in late March and developed through a frost-free spring. Ideal conditions prevailed during bloom and berry set in May. Moderate temperatures during summer and early fall produced excellent fruit quality by allowing the Merlot grapes to ripen slowly and fully, while maintaining acidity. A fabulous vintage!
We hand sorted the grapes on tables twice: first as clusters to remove any leaves or inferior fruit and then, after destemming, as individual grapes. This gentle process retained about 70 percent whole berries. Tom fermented a portion of the must in new French oak barrels to integrate the tannins and enhance the plush texture of the wine. Three to five days of cold soaking before fermentation, followed by extended skin contact, developed the rich varietal character. Bâtonnage (stirring) during malolactic fermentation in the barrel rounded acidity and softened the tannins. Four rackings during barrel aging naturally clarified the wine, and after blending, we bottled this perfectly balanced wine without fining.