2019 Cabernet Sauvignon
James Suckling: 96
Mt. Brave Vineyard sits high atop Mt. Veeder at an elevation of 1,400 to 1,800 feet. Mt. Veeder has been planted to wine grapes since the early 1860s by such winemaking pioneers as Charles Krug, Agoston Haraszthy, Frederick Hess and William S. Keyes, and wines from
Mt. Veeder achieved recognition as early as the Paris Exposition of 1900. The parcel that became the Mt. Brave Vineyard, in the northern reaches of the Mt. Veeder American Viticultural Area (AVA), was originally purchased in 1841—before the Gold Rush and the Civil War.
High-elevation winegrowing requires a painstaking, labour intensive approach. Thin, rocky soils and steep slopes make water retention a challenge and erosion a threat, but the vines benefit from the struggle and produce concentrated flavours. The high altitude keeps midday temperatures cooler than those in the valley below, while the position above the fog line gives grapes longer daily exposure to sunlight. This regularly extends the growing season into November, and the increased hang-time results in peak ripeness and full varietal complexity.
We hand-harvested grapes into lug boxes during cool morning hours, at an average Brix of 26.5. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and then underwent native malolactic fermentation in barrels to round acidity and softly integrate the vanillin character of French oak (75% new). After barrel aging for 22 months, the wine was blended to 87.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec and 1.5% Petit Verdot and thenbottled without fining or filtration.
This Cabernet Sauvignon has great spice, minerality, notes of blue fruits, toast, and dark cherry that combine with bright floral notes, weight and a wonderful finish.