The 2013 Malbec exhibits the deep, inky color and intense, dark-berry notes from the exceptional, dry-farmed, Peppone Vineyard in Calistoga. Layers of black raspberry, brambly boysenberry and black cherry cordial expression are laced with hints of spice, graphite and toasted almond. Fruit-focused character is melded with the vanilla-oak spice of barrel aging giving the aromas of warm raspberry strudel. The Malbec’s flavors are juicy and plush, with fine tannins that carry the dark-fruit flavors through the persistent finish. Only 270 cases were produced.
We selectively hand harvested 85% of these grapes from one block of the Peppone Vineyard in the Calistoga American Viticultural Area (AVA) and then brought them to our winery in Rutherford. This vineyard’s warm mesoclimate and lean, well-drained soils give our Malbec its highly extracted dark-fruit flavors and characteristic floral and spice nuances. Malbec, a prized grape variety that was cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years, was nearly abandoned there in the last century because it yields few clusters if bloom occurs under cool, rainy conditions. Some Malbec cuttings made it to dry Calistoga—at the northern end of Napa Valley—where they found ideal conditions for their temperamental personality. We complemented the juicy, ripe fruit character from the Calistoga vineyard with a small amount of Malbec from Napa Valley’s Mt. Veeder AVA, which contributed interesting notes in the dark-fruit spectrum.
The grapes are gently destemmed to retain about 60 percent whole berries, and then cold soaked for three days for gentle extraction. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks was followed first by extended maceration before pressing and then by in-barrel malolactic fermentation. Barrel aging developed the wine’s flavors while seamlessly integrating French oak nuances.
The 2013 vintage, is the second drought year in Napa Valley, surpassed even the highly touted 2012 vintage in grape quality. A winter with very low rainfall was followed by a warm, dry spring and summer with plentiful sunshine. These factors resulted in balanced vine canopies, good fruit set and small, concentrated grapes. Perfect weather throughout harvest fostered intense, beautifully balanced and expressive wines.