Positioned in the heart of Napa Valley, the Rutherford appellation enjoys sun exposure, climate and soils well suited to Cabernet Sauvignon. The significant percentage of new barrels wove oak complexity through the dark-fruit flavors. While this wine's dynamic tannin structure promises excellent aging potential, it is approachable and food friendly in its youth. Splashes of Malbec and Petit Verdot deepened the color and added violet and plum notes.
Our 2017 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon reveals its provenance with layers of fresh, delicate, dark berry fruits. Aromas of blackberry, mulberry, boysenberry, and black currant are present on the nose along with seductive savory notes of potpourri and rosemary. On the palate there is a darker brooding brambly berry fruit supported by pleasing sweet baking spice notes of cinnamon, cedar and clove that surround the core of black currant, chocolate covered cherries and cassis. The depth of flavor culminates in a finish with earthier black tea, bittersweet chocolate, graphite and espresso notes. The firm cocoa-powder tannins—a signature of Rutherford dust character—enhance the velvet texture and well-balanced structure, providing a mineral rich finish, as well as giving this Cabernet its cellar worthiness.
Overall, 2017 proved to be a very memorable vintage with slightly smaller yields but exceptional quality. A brief period of warmer than usual temperatures occurred during Labor Day weekend which accelerated the harvest in some areas but was perfect for ripening the fruit in the Napa Valley. Temperatures subsided just when we needed and the fruit was allowed to mature and ripen perfectly on the vines before harvest officially began. 2017 will be remembered as an intense and unpredictable harvest but one of tremendous quality, with wines showing great flavor intensity, perfect ripening and maturity, lovely balance and complexity.
Our Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon’s “sense of place” comes from selecting the best fruit from several outstanding vineyards in the Rutherford American Viticultural Area (AVA). Much of the Cabernet is coming from our Wildwood estate vineyard, and we source most of the balance from Beckstoffer Georges III. We also use a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Star Vineyard, located on the south side of Rutherford Cross Road, as well as a small amount from our historic Hewitt Vineyard. The Wildwood and Georges III vineyards are located on the eastern side of the appellation, while Hewitt Vineyard is located on the western Rutherford benchland near our winery. Additionally, we also sourced the Cabernet Franc and Malbec from a couple of our favorite vineyards in Calistoga, while a touch of Petit Verdot from Hewitt rounds out the blend.
After hand harvesting the fruit, we hand sorted the clusters and then, following destemming, hand sorted the individual grapes to assure the highest quality. To gently extract opulent color and flavors from the skins, we cold soaked the partially crushed grapes for three days. Two to three weeks of post-fermentation skin contact—the length depending on varietal and vineyard personality—developed varietal expression. In-barrel malolactic fermentation rounded the mouthfeel and small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot broadened the spectrum of aromas and flavors.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, David was the first member of his Italian-American family to attend college, enrolling at the University of California, Davis, where he earned degrees in Viticulture & Enology as well as Italian in 1998. He discovered winemaking after some persuasion by a fellow schoolmate to take an Introduction to Winemaking course and recalls the experience as being, “very difficult but also challenging and fascinating. It was truly the right place at the right time.” Prior to graduation, the Hayward native moved to Barbaresco, Italy to gain in-the-field cellar experience and fell in love with the old-world style of craftsmanship, before returning to the US to work as a protégé under respected winemaker Ray Einberger in Washington State.