After three consecutive Napa Valley vintages described variously as “classic,” “textbook,” and “near perfect,” 2015 was a much more eventful growing season across the valley. The upshot: high quality fruit at much lower yields. Unseasonably warm weather early in the year accelerated bud break and bloom, then a cold snap in late spring resulted in an uneven fruit set. While other vineyards saw precipitous drops in yield, the Panek Vineyard was down just about ten percent. Winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown hails this decrease for producing small berries with incredible skin density.
The 2015 Pulido~Walker Cabernet Sauvignon from Panek Vineyard is exceptionally dark for this site, yet not overly tannic. Still characteristically fruit forward, the wine is showing excellent tannin lurking underneath the initial generous fruit profile. In contrast to the 2013 vintage—another deeply colored wine from this vineyard that drew its intensity from uncharacteristic tannic structure—the 2015 Panek has a dark, seductive quality that derives from densely concentrated fruit.
Winemaking & Tasting Notes
Customarily we see a mix of red and black fruit in wines from this valley floor vineyard, showing qualities like caramelized sugar and maple syrup. However, the combination of a short crop and warm, dry growing season tends to produce wine in which black fruits predominate. We see this clearly in the 2015 Panek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, exhibiting more black fruit than is typical for this site. The 2015 Panek has all the concentration of the similarly dark 2013 vintage, while the trademark fruit-forward quality of the 2015 exponentially increases the pleasure factor.
As a result, the wine is drinking beautifully young. While it may take a concerted effort to lay down some of the 2015 Pulido~Walker Cabernet Sauvignon from Panek Vineyard, those who do stand to be richly rewarded. Cellaring the 2015 will continue to smooth out its underlying tannins, heightening the pleasures of this wine.
Thomas Rivers Brown, Winemaker