Red wines are made by fermenting the grapes on their skins thereby extracting all the good stuff in the entire berry. Not only are tannin and ultimately color pulled from the skins, but hints of where the grapes are grown become lavishly layered into the wine. The French call it terroir, a sense of place, and Cabernet Sauvignon is the best example for showcasing it. With our estate-bottled Cabernets, the terroir is so overpowering that I can’t help but try to get as much as I can into every drop of wine. With the fantastic fruit quality in this vintage, I have allowed many of my fermenters to languish on their skins in what is referred to as extended maceration. I would normally press a fermenter full of Merlot at 10-12 days on the skins to preserve the lush fruit character inherent to the varietal. However if I push past the fruity berry aromas and youthful tannins, I can create a wine with velvety mouthfeel, containing every last taste from the place where it was originally grown. Today our last Calistoga estate Cabernet tanks are being lovingly pressed after 40 days on the skins! I can taste not only the rich berry fruit, but the violets, licorice and wild Bay Laurel that surround the narrow canyon where the grapes were grown. True beauty!
- Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls