1999 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga Cuvee

The 1999 vintage was the second consecutive late vintage, for which we can thank our unusually cool spring and summer. The entire growing season was dominated by cool weather, then the last week of September really warmed up and we were able to let the fruit attain full ripeness and flavors before picking. Harvest began two weeks later than normal, and the small crop came in even lighter than our meager forecasts - 36% below the long-term average. So what does all that mean… low crop and long season? Concentration and complexity, with strong fruit flavors.

This wine is a traditional blend of Bordeaux varietals: 75% Cabernet Sauvignon with 25% Merlot. For the most part, the grapes are grown for us by a handful of highly selective long-term independent growers ranging south to north in the Calistoga district. We also use Merlot and some Cabernet Sauvignon from the richer soils of the Montelena Estate.

By the way, don't be put off by the crystal deposit on the cork or in the neck of the bottle. The cool growing season resulted in higher levels of natural acidity. Some of the acid crystals precipitated out during extended barrel aging and, preferring minimal intervention, we decided not to further process the wine to completely eliminate this natural by-product.

vintage weather

Temperate Consistent. Average rainfall, cool spring and summer, excellent October weather. Below average crop size, the fruit attained full ripeness and flavors. Very good fruit chemistry.

tasting notes

The styling is an open and supple front and middle with a true Cabernet framework, which will allow, but does not demand aging. The nose is very complex blackberry jam, very typical of a low crop year, with a hint of coffee. Also present are the Cabernet Sauvignon notes of tobacco, some spice from our volcanic soils, and hints of smoke from the barrel aging in our tunnels.

The palate is classically Cabernet-Merlot, soft and round, with a warm, spicy berry flavor - like the tasty goo in a warm berry pie! The texture is very, very supple and drinkable but it has the backbone to lay down in your cellar, too. We have given it significant bottle aging so it's ready to enjoy at release. We are sure you will delight in this wine with all the usual Cabernet-type foods, and sometimes, we hope, with a book or good conversation.

Harvest Date September 24 to October 18
Sugar At Harvest 23.2° to 24.8° brix
Barrel Aging 13 to 14 months
Bottling Date Spring 2001
Release Date Fall 2002
Alcohol 13.9%