Positioned in the heart of Napa Valley, the Rutherford appellation enjoys sun exposure, climate and soils well suited to Cabernet Sauvignon. The significant percentage of new barrels wove oak complexity through the dark-fruit flavors. While this wine’s dynamic tannin structure promises excellent aging potential, it is approachable in its youth, especially if decanted.
Barrel Aging: 22 Months, 95% French Oak and 5% Hungarian Oak (35% New)
Varietal Composition: 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec, 0.5% Petit Verdot
Production: 16,525 cases
Our 2016 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon reveals its provenance with layers of fresh, delicate, dark berry fruits. Aromas of blackberry, mulberry, boysenberry, and black currant are present on the nose along with seductive savory notes of potpourri and rosemary. On the palate there is a darker brooding brambly berry fruit supported by pleasing sweet baking spice notes of cinnamon, cedar and clove that surround the core of black currant, chocolate covered cherries and cassis. The depth of flavor culminates in a finish with earthier black tea, bittersweet chocolate, graphite and espresso notes. The firm cocoa-powder tannins—a signature of Rutherford dust character—enhance the velvet texture and well-balanced structure, providing a mineral rich finish, as well as giving this Cabernet its cellar worthiness.
Our Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon’s “sense of place” comes from selecting the best fruit from several outstanding vineyards in the Rutherford American Viticultural Area (AVA). Much of the Cabernet is coming from our Wildwood estate vineyard, and we source most of the balance from Beckstoffer Georges III. We also use a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Star Vineyard, located on the south side of Rutherford Cross Road, as well as a small amount from our historic Hewitt Vineyard. The Wildwood and Georges III vineyards are located on the eastern side of the appellation, while Hewitt Vineyard is located on the western Rutherford benchland near our winery. Additionally, we also sourced the Cabernet Franc and Malbec from a couple of our favorite vineyards in Calistoga, while a touch of Petit Verdot from Hewitt rounds out the blend.
The extended drought was beginning to cause real concern as the 2016 growing season kicked off, but some welcomed winter rain hinted at the relief to come. After a relatively dry January we enjoyed significant rainfall in February, along with mild temperatures. Bud break was early, but was slowed by heavy April showers. While still early by historical standards, picking began about a week later than 2015, right around Labor Day, and continued at a leisurely pace, allowing the grapes to reach full flavor maturity. A traditionally sized harvest followed the lighter showing of 2015, and the extended mild season helped to balance the acids and add complexity to the layers of flavors. Considered a perfect harvest and a winemaker’s dream vintage, conditions were perfect for producing a Cabernet with beautiful fruit as well as tremendous concentration of flavors, highly saturated color, and layers of complexity.
After hand harvesting the fruit, we hand sorted the clusters and then, following destemming, hand sorted the individual grapes to assure the highest quality. To gently extract opulent color and flavors from the skins, we cold soaked the partially crushed grapes for three days. Two to three weeks of post-fermentation skin contact—the length depending on varietal and vineyard personality—developed varietal expression. In-barrel malolactic fermentation rounded the mouthfeel and small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot broadened the spectrum of aromas and flavors.