A small, exclusive bottling that began in 2009 to honor legendary William A. Hewitt. Made from eight to ten of the most expressive and beautifully balanced barrels of Hewitt Vineyard. These are marked as favorite barrels each vintage with a double plus sign. (++) Partial in barrel fermentation developed the plush, opulent texture. Clarified with gentle rackings and bottled without fining. Bottle age for full complexity or, if enjoying it in its youth, first decant to release the full spectrum of flavors and textures.
Barrel Aging: 21 months, 100% French Oak (80% New)
Varietal Composition: 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot
Production: 233 cases
The 2010 Hewitt Vineyard Rutherford Double Plus Cabernet Sauvignon was chosen by Wine Spectator magazine as No. 4 in their 2013 list of the Top 100 Wines and rated 96 points in September 2013.
Spectacularly rich and complex, Double Plus epitomizes the character of Hewitt Vineyard with deeply saturated aromas evocative of ripe, wild blackberry and cassis, and is layered with violet, sage and vanilla-oak nuances. The plush crème de cassis and berry compote flavors mirror the aromas, expanding like velvet across the palate. Vanilla and hazelnut lace the persistent, dark-fruit finish. As we taste the developing wines during fermentation and aging, we mark our favorite barrel lots with a plus sign and the most exceptional barrel with a double plus. This barrel lot was so amazing that we could have given it a triple plus!
This barrel selection came from one section of vines in the heart of Hewitt Vineyard that consistently produces exceptional fruit. Its sun exposure and slope promote ideal ripening, while the well-drained, alluvial soils of the Rutherford Bench allow deep rooting for complex flavors. Hewitt Vineyard was planted in 1992 and 1996 and budded to Cabernet Sauvignon clones 4, 7 and 8 for flavor diversity and concentration.
Napa Valley’s 2010 vintage will be remembered as having a notably cool growing season, with the latest onset to harvest in several decades. “Summer’s cold nights, dipping to the 40s and 50s, really set the grapes’ deep colors, flavors and balance,” Tom explains. Cold, wet soils in March and April delayed budbreak. The above-average rainfall and cool temperatures persisted into May, followed by a mostly cool, foggy summer that slowed fruity maturity. But just as we started worrying that the grapes would never ripen, Mother Nature surprised us with heat spells to boost their flavors and sugar levels. Tom reports that the grapes’ quality was “as good as it gets.”
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. We fermented 60 percent of the must in new French oak barrels to integrate tannins and enhance the plush texture of the wine. Three to five days of cold soaking and 45 days of total skin contact developed the rich varietal character. During in-barrel malolactic fermentation, we stirred the wine (bâtonnage) to meld flavors and round acidity, and then we clarified the wine with four rackings during 23 months of barrel aging. A blend of three percent Petit Verdot, also from Hewitt Vineyard, added a hint of violet to the wine’s aroma profile.