Planted in 1999 to red Bordeaux varieties, our Dancing Bear Ranch on Howell Mountain in eastern Napa Valley has come of age, as evidenced by this exceptional 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. Hugging steep slopes at elevations ranging from 1,800 to 2,200 feet, the vineyard is named for the omnivorous black bear that has long enjoyed feasting on our mountain grapes as they approach ripeness. Fortunately, our ursine friend leaves behind enough fruit for us to craft this classic Napa Valley mountain red, which in 2005 contains 6% Cabernet Franc.
In 2005, a warm late winter spurred early bud break, but cool, wet, spring weather set back vine development. Atypically cool temperatures continued throughout the summer, which slowed ripening and prolonged the growing season. Fortunately, warm, sunny weather in September and October brought the harvest to fruition in fine fashion. Due to the early start to the season and its late conclusion, the grapes for our 2005 Dancing Bear Cabernet Sauvignon enjoyed a long hang time on the vines, with harvest occurring between October 12th and 18th.
Our 2005 Dancing Bear incorporates two distinctive clonal selections of Cabernet Sauvignon: Clone 4 and Clone 7. These clones, and the terroir of our Howell Mountain estate vineyard, produce Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with deep color, bright acidity and more tannin than our valley-grown fruit. As a result, we strive to capture Dancing Bear’s intense fruit character without extracting overly aggressive tannins. During fermentation and maceration, winemaker Julianne Laks carefully monitors the ‘cap’ of skins at the top of the fermenting tank, whose contact with the juice determines the degree of tannin extraction. When she believes the wine has achieved an optimal balance of fruit intensity and ripe tannins, the free run wine is drained from the skins and transferred to French oak barrels for aging. The 2005 Dancing Bear was aged 21 months in French oak barrels, 40% new, prior to bottling in July, 2007.
Reflecting its mountain terroir, our 2005 Dancing Bear Cabernet Sauvignon displays fresh, high-toned floral aromas mingled with ripe, spicy, brambleberry fruit tones and earthy/truffle-y scents. (Julianne compares the aroma to walking through a forest after a warm summer rain). In the mouth, the wine is intense and concentrated, with a core of beautifully pure wild cherry fruit, yet its texture is supple and elegant. Beautifully structured and amazingly focused, it culminates in a long, savory finish full of rich dark chocolate and mineral tones. While Dancing Bear is tantalizingly delicious now, it will evolve beautifully in bottle over the next 8-10 years.
94% Cabernet Sauvignon
6% Cabernet Franc
100% Dancing Bear Ranch, Estate Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
21 months in French oak
October 12-18, 2005