With elegance and suppleness from the persistently cool 2011 growing season, our Cabernet Sauvignon captures the award-winning character of Hewitt Vineyard. The wine’s dense core of blackberry, Satsuma plum, black Bing cherry and cassis reveals gorgeous notes of bittersweet chocolate, violet, sarsaparilla and forest earthiness. The firm entry turns plush on the expansive midpalate, while balanced acidity brightens the intense dark-fruit flavors. Warm caramel and mocha notes from new French oak barrels permeate the inviting aromas, richly textured flavors and lengthy finish. The long hangtime of 2011 slowly ripened and softened the grape tannins, making this wine marvelously approachable, yet cellar worthy.
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.
The persistently cool 2011 vintage decreased yields in Napa Valley, but the remaining grapes ripened slowly, achieving delicious flavors and ripe tannins from the long hangtime. For the second consecutive year, Napa Valley’s harvest was one of the latest on record. A wet winter and spring continued into mid-June, causing shatter during bloom and reducing the crop. While produced in small quantity, our Hewitt Cabernet Sauvignon proves that this temperate vintage produced many exceptional wines with excellent structure and flavor complexity.
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.