The winter leading into the 2017 vintage was a welcome departure from the past five consecutive drought years. Over 60 inches of rain fell in some areas of Napa Valley, but our key vineyard properties were left with perfectly saturated soils. Bloom began slightly earlier than expected, but a mild spring resulted in nice fruit set. Then, mid-season weather conditions began to shift. A significant heat wave that lasted through Labor Day capped early summer heat spells. This was the first defining moment of the season. While high temperatures slowed down ripening and threatened to shut down the vines, our vineyard practices and season-long decisions paid off. In short order, cooler temperatures returned, and the vines continued to ripen at a more normal and steadier pace. Cabernet Franc was the last of the season’s fruit to be picked from Soda Canyon Ranch—one day before the second defining moment of the season. By the time fires began flanking the Napa Valley, our fruit was already resting in tanks at the winery. We saw modest sugar levels, bright acidity and striking density in aromatics and were also very pleased with the structure in the resulting wines.
This is a big upgrade in finesse and clarity to such a popular, premium cabernet from Napa. It shows lots of blackberry, tar, cedar and oak-tree aromas that follow through to a full yet toned palate of fine, integrated tannins and a vivid finish. Owner David Duncan explained that the American oak they use in the wine for aging now comes 100% from their own barrel-making facilities, which tones down the vanilla character in the wine. Really impressive and delicious. It’s a joy to drink now, but can age. 96pts JS