Selected from the dry-farmed Peppone Vineyard on Tubbs Lane in Calistoga. Barrel aging married the spices of new French oak with the inherent spiciness of Malbec. Historians believe that the Romans brought Malbec to France around 50 BCE. Flank steak grilled over grapevine canes, anise-spiced sausages, lamb kebabs and wild mushroom ravioli all taste especially delicious with our Malbec.
Aging: 20 months, 86% French Oak, 14% Hungarian Oak, 58% New Barrels
Varietal Composition: 100% Malbec
Production: 562 cases
Although, Malbec is rarely planted in Napa Valley, the grapes for our 2007 Malbec come from the dry-farmed Peppone Vineyard in Calistoga. Inky in color, seductively spicy and saturated with deep fruit character reminiscent of blueberry pie, this Malbec coats your palate with plush tannins. Hints of cedar, white truffle and wet stone add complexity and an Old World note.
Just as the sun was rising, we hand harvested the Malbec clusters and brought them to our winery in Rutherford. Malbec, a prized varietal that was cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years, was nearly abandoned there in the last century because it yields few clusters if bloom occurs under cool, rainy conditions. Some Malbec cuttings made it to warm, dry Calistoga—in northeastern Napa County—where they found ideal conditions for their temperamental personality. This vineyard’s warm mesoclimate and lean, well-drained soils give our Malbec its highly extracted dark-fruit flavors.
Napa Valley’s spectacular 2007 harvest got off to an early start in mid-August with the earliest ripening varietals, and then ripening slowed to an end in early November. The valley’s famous night fog kept grape acids bright while the sunny days developed rich, ripe flavors. The moderate summer and fall temperatures kept the vines from becoming water stressed in this lower-rainfall year, while providing long hangtime for fully mature, concentrated flavors.
We gently destemmed the grapes to retain about 60 percent whole berries, and then we cold soaked the grapes for three days for gentle extraction. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks was followed by extended maceration before pressing. During barrel aging, we used the traditional Bordeaux technique of four rackings to clarify the wine.