In 2004, an unusually balmy late winter, consistently warm spring and summer temperatures, and several late-summer heat spells resulted in the earliest Cabernet Sauvignon harvest since 1981. The early budbreak, combined with light crop loads, produced grape clusters with small berries and intense, concentrated flavors, resulting in wines of great depth, concentration and structure. The grapes for our 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, which was blended with 12% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc, were harvested between September 4 and October 27, 2004.
Our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon fruit comes from an array of choice vineyards stretching from the warm Calistoga region at the northern end of the valley to the cool Carneros district at its southern tip. Sourcing fruit from a variety of microclimates enables us to craft a rich, complex Cabernet Sauvignon blending the opulent black fruit and firm tannins typical of the valley’s warmer climes with the bright fruit and crisp acidity characteristic of Napa’s cooler districts. In 2004, approximately 90% of the grapes came from warmer up-valley districts, with 10% from the Carneros district.
After crushing and cold-soaking the fruit for 24-36 hours to enhance extraction, the juice from each vineyard lot was fermented separately in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, at warm temperatures, to fully extract color and flavor. Fermentation completed in approximately seven days, but the wines macerated on the skins for an additional three weeks to maximize color and flavor extraction and enhance tannins. The free run juice from each lot was then drained and transferred to French oak barrels, 57% new, for aging. During this period, we frequently taste each lot to monitor its aroma and flavor development, texture, and oak character. In spring, 2006, the lots chosen for our Napa Valley bottling were blended, and subsequently aged an additional 14 months in barrel before bottling in July, 2006.
Our 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon boasts enticing ripe blackberry, black cherry and blueberry fruit aromas, accented by subtle scents of chocolate, earth and leather. On the palate, the wine’s intense, concentrated, black fruit and wild cherry flavors are enriched by roast coffee and toasty oak tones, with ripe, supple tannins and refreshing acidity anchoring the long, fruitful finish. Delicious to drink now, this classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon will develop beautifully in bottle for another 5-7 years.