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Mirum est notare quam littera gothica, quam nunc putamus parum claram anteposuerit litterarum.
Our 2017 Left Bank Red is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. Both vineyards are planted in the gravelly soil at the south end of our Conn Valley ranch, on the left bank of Conn Creek as it flows through our property on its way from the top of Howell Mountain to the Napa River in Rutherford. The soil profile from a recent well drilling has shown the gravel deposit on this section of the vineyard is almost 40 feet deep, and with the combination of nearby sandy-loam and basalt soils, serves as an ideal spot for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to mingle. Both parcels are certified organic with CCOF, and we practice modern sustainable farming, seeding them each fall after the harvest with a customized cover crop seed mix, which is mowed, then plowed under the following spring to replace those nutrients taken up by the vines during the growing season.
Winemaker Tadeo Borchardt focuses on small yields, grown on vines propagated from heirloom budwood selections. Each vineyard is separately hand-harvested, and each cluster is closely examined on our sorting table before de-stemming. Fermentation is carried out using only native, wild yeast, and the separate wines are aged in a combination of new and used 60-gallon French oak barrels. We bottle the Left Bank Red after 14 months of barrel aging, without fining or filtering the finished wine. The blend is immediately appealing, with its combination of bright raspberry flavors balanced by the charm of the wild cherry component of the Merlot. The gravelly soil provides a subtle hint of minerality, making the wine both complete and complex. We bottled 2200 cases, all of them from estate grapes grown on our 45-acre Conn Valley Ranch.
~ Bruce Neyers
Cool, dense aromas of raisin, blackberry and chocolate are relaxed and in a fine state. Acidity is lively on the palate, so there’s angularity and jolt to this Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Tangy currant and plum flavors are accented by coconut and spice notes, while this is still a bit wild and jumpy on a finish that tastes of mocha and ripe black fruits. Drink through 2030.
This Willamette Valley vineyard is on what was the Stoller turkey farm for like 50+ years before vines were planted. Let’s just say that the grapes enjoyed unparalleled vigorous soil conditions until things mellowed out a decade ago. Grown in what I consider one of the most beautiful vineyards in Oregon (saying a lot!) he wine is rich and fruity, way too easy to drink (particularly if you drop it in the fridge for about 20 minutes before dinner. Did I hear someone say fried chicken? (roast turkey works too) Great work from winemaker Melissa Burr! –DF
The Quinta da Manoella Vinhas Velhas (the “old vines” are centenary vines) is a field blend aged for 20 months in 30% new French oak. It comes in at 14% alcohol. This was not quite bottled when I sampled the final blend out of barrel and tank. This looks like one of the best—if not the best—Manoellas ever. It feels far less full in the mouth than Pintas or perhaps even Character, and no more so than the regular Manoella, but density is not how this wine usually makes it case. It is always very elegant with fine mid-palate finesse. It also may have the most gloriously flavorful fruit of any of them. Typical of the vintage and its own style, it is never sweet or flabby but always lifted, energetic and fresh. It is pretty wonderful and hard to resist, but this does have power and really needs some cellaring, at least to 2020 and maybe more. Sure, you could try some if you wish, but it’s not exactly a mass market wine (only 4,000 bottles produced) and it will hurt to waste it. It should age and develop beautifully in the cellar, too. It may actually age better than indicated, but let’s be conservative just now. This looks like a big winner. www.robertparker.com
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