Valley floor or hillside vineyard, it didn’t matter; 2012 was a great, great year for Napa Valley winegrowing. Moderate temperatures with no heat spikes made for ideal conditions in the warmer north of the valley, where extreme heat can ripen fruit a little faster than we’d sometimes like. In the Panek Vineyard, the fruit took its time. Even with an early flowering and no rain, the clusters hung well beyond previous harvest dates.
Thanks to the complete absence of weather challenges, vineyards on the valley floor tended to produce larger than average berry size in 2012, which can translate to wines that aren’t as concentrated as they first appear. That won’t be the case for our 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Panek Vineyard. While each of the four clones was picked and fermented separately, the wine is crafted primarily from Clone 6, a naturally smaller Cabernet Sauvignon that is never wanting for concentration, regardless of the vintage.
Winemaking & Tasting Notes
What makes Clone 6 especially compelling is its inherent structure. This small berry’s thicker skin gives the 2012 vintage plenty of backbone to balance the more fruit-generous qualities of the valley floor. The wine has enough tannin to buffer the caramelized brown sugar and maple syrup elements that appear year after year. After 20 months barrel aging in 100% French oak, we bottled without fining or filtration.
Once again, there is a satisfying mix of red and black fruits. While the red fruits give the impression of higher acidity and make the wine more mouthwatering, the black fruits give it a serious tone, a brooding side. Because the fruit was allowed to hang without trauma until we were ready for it, the wine is showing a bit of everything. It is rewardingly complete, equally suited to enjoying young or cellaring.
Thomas Rivers Brown, Winemaker