Labeled “Napa Valley Red Wine” so we have free rein to create the most delicious, balanced blend of Bordeaux-heritage grape varieties. Favorite pairings: grilled lamb chops with quinoa, mint and feta salad; osso bucco with saffron risotto. With the screwcap closure, the wine will age similarly to natural cork-finished wines, but without the variability.
Appellation: Rutherford, Oakville, Calistoga, Los Carneros
Barrel Aging: 20 Months, 100% Barrel Aged (47% New French Oak)
Varietal Composition: 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Malbec, 12% Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot
Production: 206 cases
“The varietal composition of our Winemaker’s Reserve changes with every vintage—I make it from the young wines that really excite me,” explains Chris Cooney. “I keep going back to these wine-lots during aging, because I love how they are developing in the barrel. Then I blend the different varietals together, choosing the percentages that I find to make the most complex, beautifully balanced wine. Our 2009 vintage shows effusive blackberry, dark plum, violet and mocha aromas. The plush, mouthfilling flavors flow nicely across the palate, picking up plum–raspberry on the velvety midpalate. Zesty acidity and melded tannins frame the wine, while new French oak barrels layer the dark-fruit finish with mocha and espresso nuances.”
Each grape varietal was grown in the mesoclimate and soils where it achieves outstanding character; these vineyards are located throughout the 30-mile length of Napa Valley. A significant portion of the wine was grown in our estate vineyards. Most of the Cabernet Sauvignon and all the Petit Verdot came from the Rutherford and Oakville American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), in the center of the valley, while the Malbec and Cabernet Franc came from the Calistoga AVA, at the northern point. The Merlot was grown in our estate vineyard in the Los Carneros AVA, at the southern, coolest end.
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 grapes to ripen slowly and fully, while maintaining acidity.
After hand harvesting the fruit and then hand sorting it twice at the winery, we gently destemmed the grapes to retain at least 60 percent whole berries. Three days of cold soaking before fermentation gently extracted the deep purple color and rich varietal flavors from the skins. A portion of the wine was fermented in barrels, with the balance in stainless steel, to enhance the plush texture of the wine and integrate fruit and oak character. Following fermentation, extended skin contact and gentle pressing, the wine completed malolactic fermentation in barrels to round the acidity. Aging in French oak barrels added toasty oak tones and three gentle rackings clarified the wine. We bottled it without fining.