Since 1992, Cakebread Cellars has produced a red wine blend called Rubáiyat, after the famous poem
(". . . a loaf of bread . . . a flask of wine, a book of verse - and thou beside me singing in the wilderness . . .") by Omar Khayyám.
A blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah, this deliciously fruity red is the perfect accompaniment to picnic and barbecue fare, especially when enjoyed with that special someone.
Our 2003 Rubáiyat is a blend of 77% Pinot Noir, 12% Syrah and 11% Zinfandel from vineyards in Napa Valley (85%), Red Hills in Lake County (11%) and Anderson Valley in Mendocino County (4%). The Napa vineyards, in the cooler southern part of the county, supplied most of the Pinot Noir and all the Syrah grapes, while the Lake County vineyards provided the Zinfandel, and the cool-climate Anderson Valley the rest of the Pinot Noir. All the fruit was hand-harvested between September 2nd and October 22nd to ensure an ideal balance of ripe fruit flavors and fresh acidity.
The growing season of 2003 began unpredictably, with unusual heat spells in March followed by cold, rainy weather in April, which set back vine growth and reduced yields on early ripening varieties like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot. Fortunately, once summer arrived, the weather turned picture-perfect, with cool mornings, warm afternoons, no rainfall, and a few well-timed heat spikes in September to accelerate ripening. These conditions enabled the grapes to retain their natural acidity while attaining full physiological maturity.
Eighty-five percent of the grapes were crushed while 15% were retained as whole clusters to enhance the wine's fruitiness. After cold-soaking for 24 hours to extract color and flavor, the juice and whole berries fermented together in a combination of small open-top and medium-sized closed tanks, with daily pumpovers and several rack-and-return procedures (draining a tank of juice so the cap of skins settles to the bottom of the tank, then splashing the juice back into the tank to thoroughly macerate the skins, thus enhancing extraction). After blending, the wine was aged in French oak barrels, 55% new, for 14 months before bottling in December 2004.
The 2003 Rubáiyat's tantalizing aromas reveal the charms of its constituent elements: pretty red and black cherry tones from the Pinot Noir, darker berry scents from the Syrah, and zesty, raspberry aromas from the Zinfandel. On the palate, the wine is full and lush, with a medley of vibrant cherry and berry flavors enhanced by a dash of black pepper spice and smooth, supple tannins. A blend that clearly is greater than the sum of its estimable parts, the 2003 Rubáiyat will make a fine accompaniment to spring and summer meals featuring grilled and spicy foods, and should age nicely in the bottle for 3-5 years.