The 1997 Benchland Select Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as its counterpart the 1997 Three Sisters Cabernet Sauvignon, together represent the third vintage that Cakebread Cellars selected cabernet fruit from the best vineyards of the western as well as eastern sides of the Napa Valley; respectively. Although both wines are made from highly acclaimed vineyards in the neighboring Oakville and Rutherford appellations, the fact that these vineyards lie on opposite sides of the Napa Valley contributes in large measure to these two wines being so distinctively different.
The vineyards for the Benchland Select are along the gentle sloping foothills or bench lands of the Mayacamas Mountains. They face in an easterly direction and their gravelly loam soils provide excellent drainage. The vineyards' low sun exposure causes the cabernet fruit to mature slowly.
Periodically during Benchland Select's fermentation in stainless steel tanks, we utilized a so-called "rack and return" regimen to the wine. This served a two-fold purpose. First, "rack and return" greatly reduces a wine's astringency. Second, this cellar procedure also softens tannins. As the fermenting wine approaches dryness, it is taste-tested before it is sent to the wine presses. Our cellar practices helped to contribute to Benchland Select's great color and rich flavors as well as its firm structure, supple and well-integrated tannins. Sixty percent of the wine is then aged in new French oak, while the remainder is aged in a combination of one and two-year old French oak for a total of 21 months.
The resulting wine is true to its sources of two Napa Valley west side top vineyards - both in character and in taste. The 1997 Benchland Select Cabernet Sauvignon displays a richness of black fruit, reminiscent of ripe black cherries, blackberries and currants. Benchland Select is a deliciously soft, but elegant wine that offers plenty of ripe and rich black fruit with a lingering finish of rich, ripe berry flavors integrated with delicately balanced tannins.
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Residual Sugar: 0.08g/100ml
September 6 through September 14, 1997
21 months in French Oak