Our 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of grapes from prime vineyard sites 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 multiple, diverse microclimates enables our winemaker, Julianne Laks, to craft a rich, complex Cabernet Sauvignon displaying the opulent black fruit character and firm tannins typical of the valley’s warmer microclimates balanced by the bright fruit and crisp acidity characteristic of Napa’s cooler districts. In 2006, 92% of the fruit came from warmer up-valley vineyards with 8% from the Carneros district.
The long, cool, 2006 growing season – in some respects more Bordeaux-like than Californian – fostered intense, finely structured flavors in our Napa Valley grapes. The growing season commenced with a wet winter, which delayed bud break and led to a late flowering of the vines. Fine weather in June was followed by a heat wave in July, but cool weather returned in August and continued throughout the harvest season, resulting in a long grape ripening period that developed deep, concentrated fruit flavors in our Napa Valley reds. The grapes for our 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, a Bordeaux-style blend incorporating 16% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec, were harvested between October 3rd and October 27th.
After crushing and cold-soaking the grapes 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. Typically, fermentation completes in seven days, with the new wines left to macerate on the skins up to three additional weeks to maximize color and flavor extraction. Cool years like 2006, however, can result in Cabernet Sauvignons with elevated tannins, so we closely monitored evolving tannin levels during fermentation, using both quantitative and sensory analysis to determine the optimum maceration time for each lot. In 2006, each component of our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon aged six months in French oak barrels, 35% new, with the lots chosen for the final blend aged another 14 months in barrel before bottling in July, 2008.
Our 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon bursts from the glass with fresh, smoky, cassis, blackberry and boysenberry aromas augmented by subtle cedar, black tea spice and sweet oak scents. Supple on entry, the wine’s big, extracted, black fruit flavors coat the palate, while its firm underlying structure transports the rich fruit and zesty black tea spiciness into a long, savory finish. Impressive now, this concentrated, yet elegant Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon will age gracefully in bottle for another 5-7 years.