The 2012 growing season proved an occasion for rejoicing throughout Napa Valley. The return to normalcy after successive years of trying conditions and weather extremes was a tremendous relief. On Pritchard Hill, the vintage was nearly ideal from budbreak to harvest. Ample ground moisture early in the growth cycle produced a very good set in the Melanson Vineyard. This healthy crop load and moderate summer temperatures with no rain allowed us to hang the fruit unperturbed until maturity.
Capping a textbook growing season, we were graced with a long picking window for the first time in ages, with no heat spikes or rain events to force our hand. So we let the fruit hang. It was a luxury to have nothing more unpredictable to worry about than the decline in acidity that sometimes comes with a protracted hang time. We tested fruit chemistry, trusted what the vines were showing, and let this inimitable site do its thing. The sumptuous fruit harvested in October 2012 produced our most complete Cabernet Sauvignon from the Melanson Vineyard to date.
Winemaking & Tasting Notes
Ripening proceeded so beautifully in the Melanson Vineyard in 2012 we were careful to focus on preserving the flavor characteristics of hillside fruit. The presence of tannins is what marks this wine as belonging to Pritchard Hill. Clones 7 and 337 were picked and fermented separately. Only natural yeasts attended each small lot, with no inoculation for alcoholic or malolactic fermentation. After 20 months barrel aging, the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Slow to come up at first in the fermenter, the tannins gradually emerged with unmistakable quality. No more or less present than in previous vintages, the tannins in the 2012 are simply outstanding. All the punch and power is there, with no sense that it will take time to smooth out. The wine is round, full, rich and accessible—more complete than it has ever been at release.
With flavors of ink-black fruit and white flower aromatics, this exemplary vintage is drinking beautifully now and will only become more astonishing with age.
Thomas Rivers Brown, Winemaker