In 1999, we planted an ideal site in the celebrated Howell Mountain appellation of Napa Valley to 30 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, divided into 24 separate blocks incorporating four rootstocks and nine clones. Our 2002 DBR Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with just a touch of Cabernet Franc, is our first offering from this fabulous vineyard, confirming our belief that it will produce spectacular red wines for many years to come.
In 2002, an early April frost and May rains gave way to a mild summer with ideal growing conditions: warm days and cool, sometimes cold, nights. Warm weather in late September accelerated ripening, concentrating fruit flavors and condensing the harvest. While yields were lower than average, the grapes displayed excellent color and flavor concentration, enabling Napa Valley wineries to produce superb red wines.
Ranging in elevation between 1,800 and 2,200 feet and boasting wonderfully rocky, volcanic soils, our DBR vineyard enjoys slightly warmer, drier conditions than our valley floor vineyards, while benefiting from cool evening breezes and fog, which help maintain good acidity in the grapes. These conditions result in small-berried grape clusters with distinctive, concentrated flavors. In 2002, the grapes were harvested, with near-perfect chemistry, on September 18th and 19th.
After the fruit was crushed and cold-soaked for four days, we initiated fermentation, with daily pumpovers to thoroughly macerate the skins and maximize extraction of color, flavor and tannin. This process was enhanced further by several rack-and-return procedures, which involves draining a tank of fermenting juice, then splashing it back over the cap of skins that fall to the bottom of the tank. Because small-berried mountain grapes tend to have higher acids and tannins, we were careful to carefully manage the fermentation/maceration to ensure a harmonious Cabernet Sauvignon with balanced fruit and tannin. Once the wine was pressed off the skins, the free run juice was drained and transferred to French oak barrels, 60% new, where it aged 19 months in barrel before bottling in April, 2004.
Our 2002 DBR Cabernet Sauvignon is an impressively rich, concentrated red wine with tremendous depth of flavor. The nose reveals sweet vanilla oak tones, ripe, extracted blackberry fruit with hints of cocoa and mocha, and scents of wild herbs such as mint and lavender. In the mouth, the wine is rich and powerful, with deep, intense, blackberry fruit that has a decidedly chocolate-y edge and extends into a very long, lush finish bolstered by firm, well-integrated tannins. This voluptuous Napa Valley cabernet, reflecting its mountain origins, is delicious to drink now with grilled red meats or flavorful cheeses, but should age beautifully in bottle for another 6-8 years.