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 mouthwatering Malbec pairs deliciously with lamb moussaka, beef stew, and eggplant Parmesan with fennel-spiced sausage
With its inky color and intense, concentrated flavors, our 2010 Malbec shows its provenance—an exceptional, dry-farmed vineyard in Calistoga. Not in the least shy, this wine exudes rich, zesty 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 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 one block 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 grape variety 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.
Heralded as a near-flawless vintage in Napa Valley, 2010 had the latest onset to harvest in several decades. We crushed the first grapes after Labor Day, about two weeks later than average. The late onset to harvest resulted from above-average rainfall and cool temperatures that persisted into May, followed by a mostly cool, foggy summer that slowed fruit 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. The long hangtime and full maturity added up to exceptionally rich wines with exquisite balance.
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 three gentle rackings to naturally clarify the wine.