2017 MATTHIASSON Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Phoenix Vineyard
2017 Cabernet Sauvignon
In 2017, after 14 years of renting space in other wineries, and farming other people’s Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards, we had an opportunity of a lifetime. The elderly owners of the vineyard and winery next door to a property we were farming could no longer manage the upkeep and needed help. They were land-rich and cash-poor and couldn’t continue on their property. We started farming their grapes, and later that year purchased the land, granting them a lifetime estate in exchange for a price we could afford. We gained our dream of a winery, and they secured their home for the rest of their lives.
The Phoenix Vineyard was planted back in 1982 by that same family on the steep hillside above the winery. They used old heritage field selections of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. With the help of their sons they lovingly cared for the vines themselves the entire time. When we took over, we converted to Organic Farming, planted new vines where some of the old vines had given up, and focused on rejuvenating the old vines with compost and pruning.
The steep hillside and narrow rows require most work to be done by hand—even the compost is applied with shovels and wheelbarrows, that task alone takes two weeks. It’s a challenging vineyard to farm but it’s worth it.
It sits on some of the most unusual soils in the Napa Valley. While most of Napa soils are of volcanic origin, the East-facing steep hillside Phoenix Vineyard sits on a ridge of ancient marine shale soils. The rock content and sea minerals of these soils create unique wines with high-toned red fruits, perfumed and exotic, with a lightness in the mid-palate yet a long, firm, and structured finish. Wine singular enough, yet complete enough, to be worthy of a single vineyard designation.
Napa Valley suffered terrible fires in 2017, however the dry-farmed hillside vines of the Phoenix Vineyard ripen extraordinarily fast, and all the fruit was harvested and finished with fermentation before the fires struck the valley.
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 fermentation. This wine was aged in 30% new French oak (Taransaud), and 70% older French oak barrels. The wine was given 20 months of elevage (aging in barrel).
The pH is 3.88, TA is 5.1, and alcohol is 12.8%. 98 cases produced.