The grapes come from the famous Three Palms Vineyard just south of Calistoga in Napa Valley. In the 1800s, the Three Palms site was the summer home of spunky Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who gave Coit Tower to San Francisco. Match this robust wine with bold foods, such as grilled rib-eye steak, savory lamb stew or short ribs.
The stony Three Palms Vineyard yields intense wines with deep fruit character, distinctive minerality and muscular tannins, making them very similar to those made from mountain-grown fruit. Layers of sweet dark chocolate, forest loam and mineral from the terroir—along with toffee, cinnamon and clove from new oak barrels—add complexity to the expansive aromas and dense, textured flavors.
We harvested the grapes from a 1.82-acre block of Cabernet Sauvignon in Three Palms Vineyard. The soil of this valley-floor vineyard is full of volcanic cobblestones that have been washed down from Dutch Henry Canyon in northern Napa Valley. The stones radiate heat and also force the vines to struggle for water and nutrients, resulting in small-berried Cabernet Sauvignon clusters with exceptional color and flavor concentration.
Abundant spring rains and a relatively temperate 2009 growing season produced excellent fruit quality by allowing the grapes to reach optimum maturity and maintain acidity. Our vines completed budbreak in March and developed their leaf canopy through a frost-free spring. Ideal conditions prevailed during bloom and berry set in May and then the clusters ripened through the dry, sunny days and cool nights of summer.
We hand-harvested the Cabernet Sauvignon at dawn and then hand-sorted the fruit twice at the winery. After we destemmed the clusters, maintaining 60 percent whole berries to maximize fruitiness, we cold-soaked the must to gently extract flavors and color. Following fermentation and extended maceration, we aged the wine in a high percentage of new French oak barrels (medium to medium-plus toast) to balance this richly flavored Cabernet Sauvignon.