Late season rains and ground fog set the stage for the 2011 Napa Valley vintage. Our yield from the Panek Vineyard drove home once again the distinct advantages of this well-drained site at the warmer northern end of the valley. The grapes didn’t sit in lingering dampness, and the vineyard team thinned leaves proactively to keep the fruit dry. Canopy management effectively prevented disease while the fog persisted, but did not leave the clusters exposed when the weather turned warm again. As a result, the Panek fruit was fully ripe when the rain began again in the later days of harvest with quality in no way compromised by the challenges of the season.
Winemaking & Tasting Notes
Each of the four clones was picked and fermented separately. Clusters were carefully inspected and hand sorted prior to sulphur-free destemming, then cold soaked for seven days. Only natural yeasts were present in each small lot; we do not inoculate for alcoholic or malolactic fermentation. Although each lot showed distinct quality, we singled out clones 7 and 169 for the final blend. That these earlier ripening clones proved exceptional in a wetter year is not surprising. After 20 months barrel aging in 100% French oak, the wine was bottled without fining or filtration.
The red and black fruit flavors characteristic of this site once again predominate in the 2011 Panek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine beautifully exhibits the caramelized brown sugar and maple syrup elements that make it such a pleasure to drink young. A shade more structured than its predecessor, this vintage is equally agreeable to food pairing and cellaring.
Thomas Rivers Brown, Winemaker