98 Points - JamesSuckling.com
“Aromas of blueberries, blackcurrants, black olives and mint. Full-bodied, very tight and chewy. Polished and intense tannins that remain polished and beautiful. Goes on for minutes. Superb. This needs three to four years to open. Better after 2023.” - James Suckling, February 2020
This is a blockbuster Cabernet with incredible intensity, plushness and spectacular concentration. Powerfully expressive and opulent with a seductive full body and rich texture, highlighting the exemplary quality of the 2016 ‘dream vintage’. There is no mystery why this wine consistently is a favorite among wine critics; it’s an alluring enigma. This vintage crafted an enigmatic character, which expresses itself through the highly saturated opaque color, intriguing aromas, and layered flavors. Double Plus epitomizes the complex character of Hewitt Vineyard with exuberant notes of dark blackberry, blackcurrant and black cherry, alongside hints of root spice, molasses and dark chocolate mocha. Signature Rutherford dust characteristics unfold into velvety soft tannins, with secondary flavors and aromas of sarsaparilla, kola nut and exotic star anise spice persisting through the intensely long seductive finish. Sixty percent of the wine was fermented in small French barriques, enhancing the wine’s opulent mouthfeel and structure, softening firm tannins and giving this Cabernet its signature rum-raisin profile.
Sourced from the 60-acre Hewitt Estate Vineyard, this wine is composed of a barrel selection of the very finest parcels from this prized winegrowing land. Typically, only one or two special barrels are selected from at least two or three vineyard blocks that consistently produce the most exceptional fruit. The wine is renowned for showing impeccable balance, supple tannins and highly concentrated flavors. Hewitt Vineyard is tucked against the Mayacamas mountain range on the Rutherford Bench which provides ideal sun exposure and slope, promoting even ripening, while the well-draining alluvial soils allow the vines to root deeply, providing additional complexity and flavors. The current vines in the Hewitt Vineyard were planted from 1992 – 1998, and consist of Cabernet Sauvignon clones 4, 7 and 8 for flavor diversity as well as a small percentage of Petit Verdot.
The extended drought was beginning to cause real concern as the 2016 growing season kicked off, but some welcomed winter rain hinted at the relief to come. After a relatively dry January we enjoyed significant rainfall in February, along with mild temperatures. Bud break was early, but was slowed by heavy April showers. While still early by historical standards, picking began about a week later than 2015, right around Labor Day, and continued at a leisurely pace, allowing the grapes to reach full flavor maturity. A traditionally sized harvest followed the lighter showing of 2015, and the extended mild season helped to balance the acids and add complexity to the layers of flavors. Considered a perfect harvest and a winemaker’s dream vintage, conditions were perfect for producing a Cabernet with beautiful fruit as well as tremendous concentration of flavors, highly saturated color, and layers of complexity.
The grapes are hand sorted on tables two times: first as clusters to remove any leaves or inadequate fruit and then, after destemming, as individual berries. This gentle process retains about 70 percent whole berries. Then the majority of the must was fermented in new French oak barrels to integrate the tannins and enhance the plush texture of the wine. Five to seven days of cold soaking, and roughly 45 days of total skin contact helped to develop the rich varietal character. During in-barrel malolactic fermentation, bâtonnage (stirring) is used to round the tannin profile and soften acidity. Finally, the wine is clarified with two or three rackings during barrel aging and then bottled without fining.