2017 MATTHIASSON Napa Valley Red Wine
2017 Red Wine
This wine is our attempt at crafting a classic balanced and age-worthy red wine—wine like the wines produced and collected around the world when people like Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill wouldn’t have dinner without a bottle of Claret. Old school age-worthy wine with finesse but with guts, and complete with a beginning, middle, and end.
The blend is 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 30 percent Merlot, 6 percent Petit Verdot, and 4 percent Cabernet Franc.
The fruit was fermented at low temperatures in small, open-top tanks and punched down by hand one to three times per day, depending on how the wine tasted during the fermentations. Maceration was 18-24 days. The wine was partially co-fermented (fermented together as one lot), and the remainder racked and blended before malolactic fermentation, so that the wine could marry from the very beginning—much magic happens during fermentation, and co-fermenting can create a seamless wine in a way that doesn’t always happen with blending after the fact.
The wine was aged in 50% new French oak (Taransaud), and 50% older French oak barrels. The wine was given 20 months of elevage (aging in barrel).
2017 was mainly a mild year, plenty of spring rains and only one heat spell, so the South Napa vineyard held their trademark freshness and high-toned aromatics. We were fortunate to be fully finished with harvest before the tragic fires, so our fruit was unaffected by any smoke. As always the wine is defined by its typical bright red fruits, mineral character, cedar and tobacco aromas, but this year with more rich black fruits and graphite. And there is the trademark structure for aging, which is why we hold the wine the additional years in bottle before release. This wine will continue to develop for many years.
The pH is 3.66, TA is 6.0, and alcohol is 13.5%. 349 cases produced.
The Red Hen Merlot Vineyard, along Dry Creek, at the very top of the creek’s alluvial fan, is a warm site with very light and thin soils, composed of a foot of silty loam sitting on top of at least 20 feet of pure cobble. The vines are naturally small berried and early ripening.
Upstream from the Red Hen, the Meadowbrook Cabernet Sauvignon receives the nightly air current off of Mt. Veeder, which also blocks the intense late afternoon sun. This makes it the cool foil to the warmer Red Hen. The coolness and sun protection lets the fruit develop and maintain an unusually strong backbone of acidity and tannin. Every year, on schedule, as the nights get cold, the leaves change color and drop before any other vineyard in the area, signaling that the fruit is ready to harvest. The vineyard sits on old creek deposits, and the spots selected for harvest are on shallow clay with coarse sand, over dry cobbles and silt. The vineyard provides structure and firm acidity.
The Cabernet franc and Petit verdot are from the Matthiasson Vineyard, our home.