2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
To many, Napa Valley Cabernet sauvignon is the pinnacle for California red wines. Now I enjoy many different red wines from many countries but Napa Cabernet still has a certain allure, even though I have to admit I haven’t been drinking many of them in the last decade. They just got too big and heavy and I found that they weren’t a good match to the foods I was eating. Every now and again I get to try an older wine though and it forces me to stop and think about how I liked those wines that were a little lighter that tasted of a place and of Cabernet grapes. Some really stand out and I wish I’d bought more back in the 90’s when that style was in vogue, but the 90’s were a time when I gave up a paying job to follow the passion of winemaking and buying wine wasn’t really an option.
At a friend’s 50th in 2015 I was able to try a 1994 Mt. Veeder Cabernet that made this kind of impression. It was the wine made for the grape grower Bill Hawley from his Random Ridge vineyard and I’d helped Bill hand bottle that wine way back in 1996. In business it often is “who you know” and it didn’t hurt that Bill and I and a few of his other friends had been backpacking to the “Matterhorn” in Yosemite Valley many years ago. So it didn’t take long for me to get a few tons of grapes for my first Napa Cabernet which was released last year. I also started making Bill’s own wine and one of the perks was being able to get access to a small amount of his Cabernet franc as well. That ’94 was a blend of Cabernet sauvignon and Cabernet franc and I’ve done the same here with the addition of the franc lightening the Cabernet sauvignon and adding to the aromatics. The 2016 vintage had a little more winter rain that the drought year of ’15 and as a consequence I find the wine a little more supple and approachable than the ’15 while still showing the backbone of Mt. Veeder Cabernet. I expect this wine to have a very long enjoyment window and think it is ready to open now but should be able to be cellared for at least 10-15 years under good conditions. This is the best Cabernet I’ve made to date.