You may notice a change on the label of our 2006 Rubáiyat, the Pinot Noir-based blend the Cakebread family has produced since the early 1990s. The wine is named for the famous verse in a collection of poems by the 12th-century Persian philosopher Omar Khayyám:
"A book of verses underneath the bough, A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and thou beside me singing in the wilderness – Oh, wilderness were paradise, Enough!”
Cakebread Cellars has had a trademark on the Rubáiyat name for the past 15 years, but the government department that regulates wine labels recently informed us that they have since discovered that in the 1950s an Oklahoma professor dubbed one of his experimental hybrid grapes Rubaiyat. Not having anything else better to do and in the interest of clarity, the feds have instructed us to change our label so people know that our Rubáiyat is a fanciful name, not a grape variety. Now you know!
Our 2006 Rubáiyat is a blend of 83% Pinot Noir, 15% Zinfandel and 2% Syrah. The Pinot Noir comes from vineyards in the Carneros region of Napa Valley and Mendocino’s Anderson Valley; the Zinfandel from the Red Hills District of Lake County; and the Syrah from Carneros (thus the North Coast appellation). Sixty percent of the fruit is from our estate Carneros and Anderson Valley vineyards, and 100% was hand-harvested between September 27th and October 23rd.
The long, cool, 2006 growing season began with a wet winter, which delayed bud break and led to a late flowering of the vines. Good weather arrived in June, only to be followed by a sustained heat wave in July that caused some minor sunburn, but no damage, to the grape clusters. Cool weather returned in August and continued throughout the harvest season, resulting in a long grape ripening period that fostered mature flavors balanced by bright acidity.
Rubáiyat is a blend of numerous small lots of grapes harvested at different times from multiple vineyard sites. The blend changes every year, providing winemaker Julianne Laks with the opportunity to be creative. In general, Julianne selects lighter-bodied, fruitier lots for Rubáiyat. These are fermented primarily in small, open-top tanks with manual punchdowns of the cap, a method that gently macerates the juice and skins to extract optimal color and flavor. The lots for our 2006 Rubáiyat aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 35% new, before blending.
Our 2006 Rubáiyat offers wonderfully fresh, fragrant aromas of toasted blueberries and warm, ripe strawberries, with enticing baking spice scents. Soft and supple on the palate, it boasts juicy, red-cherry and strawberry flavors enlivened by a zesty spiciness and enriched by savory toasted oak tones. Delicious, especially served slightly chilled with picnic and barbecue fare, this richly fruited wine is meant for consumption in the near term. So find a corkscrew!