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. This rich, complex Malbec pairs especially well with braised short ribs or lamb sausages with polenta.
Aging: 20 months, 100% New French Oak
Varietal Composition: 98% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon
Production: 212 cases
With its inky color and intense, concentrated flavors, our 2009 Malbec shows its provenance—an exceptional, dry-farmed vineyard in Calistoga. Not in the least shy, this wine exudes rich, zesty black plum, black cherry, caramel and espresso aromas and flavors. It is a distinctively varietal Malbec, especially in its show of violet, spice and mineral, while the caramel nuances come from aging in entirely new French oak barrels. The mouth-coating tannins carry the dark-fruit flavors through the persistent finish. Although it will cellar well, this wine is immensely enjoyable now, especially paired with hearty foods.
We selectively hand harvested these grapes from the finest rows of the Peppone Vineyard in Calistoga and then brought them to our winery in Rutherford. This vineyard’s warm mesoclimate and lean, well-drained soils give our Malbec its highly extracted dark-fruit flavors and characteristic floral and spice nuances. 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 dry Calistoga—at the northern end of Napa Valley—where they found ideal conditions for their temperamental personality.
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 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. A fabulous vintage!
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 first by extended maceration before pressing and then by in-barrel malolactic fermentation. During barrel aging, we used the traditional Bordeaux technique of four gentle rackings to naturally clarify the wine.