Saturday, August 29, 2009

2006 Single Vineyard Series Cabernets - A Preview

There's nothing like being able to taste our trio of Single Vineyard Series Cabs side-by-side to demonstrate how singular each is, and how profound.

Two traits cut through the myriad differences of flavor and aroma in these three wines: intensity of fruit and richness of structure. Each wine displays that hallmark of great Livermore Valley Cabernet (deep dark/rich fruit on entry) very clearly. The rich fruit entry is where Livermore sets itself apart from the more austere, less opulent Napa Valley wines.

Along with the fruit comes toasty oak, chocolate and mint notes in the Home Ranch. This wine is dramatically complex in the nose...cassis, black cherry, raspberry, chocolate, mint; after sitting open for about 2 hours, the chocolate has morphed into less sweet cocoa powder, the fruit notes are darker and the tannins have blossomed to show both greater breadth and more edge than when the wine was first open.

The Smith Ranch is the most austere of the three wines. Structure is the watchword with this wine. Newly opened, the wine shows notes of "Liquid Smoke," toasty oak, and black fruits. There is a gorgeous, focused streak of tannin that runs through this wine in a straight line, all the way to a lengthy finish. Black fruit notes begin to show themselves after the wine sat, and a structural earthiness and tobacco notes were also evident.

The Ghielmetti Vineyard (a blend of three different clones) was the wine that showed the most dramatic change. Early, the wine showed intensity of red and black fruits, graphite, and milk chocolate in the nose. The medium tannins were confined to the mid-palate, and the wine didn't have the length of finish that it has shown before. With time, though, this wine became much bigger: red fruit turned black, chocolate took on a much less sweet aspect, and most significantly, the tannins opened up, becoming harder and longer.

All three wines share a depth and breadth of tannin that will allow them to age 10 years; each wine is very individual, and each wine writes the continuing story of world-class Cabernet from the Livermore Valley.

Fewer than 30 cases remain of the Home Ranch Cabernet. Smith and Ghielmetti will make their debut at The Table in the second half of September and will be available to purchase then. Only 50 cases of the Smith and 100 cases of the Ghielmetti Cab were produced.

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