2017 in the Napa Valley was a year none here will soon forget. Intensive winter rains brought widespread flooding that signaled, in no uncertain terms, the end of Northern California’s drought. Summer began with a pair of heat spikes in June and culminated in a brutal Labor Day heat wave, during which daytime temperatures soared as high as 120 degrees. But the most dramatic events of 2017 began overnight on October 8, quickly raging into a complex of wildfires that burned thousands of acres and hundreds of homes, including the Pulido~Walker Estate residence.
As devastating as these fires were, they had no impact on the 2017 Pulido~Walker Cabernet Sauvignon. Harvest and crush were completed before the blaze ignited, and we are thankful that our production and storage facilities were untouched. It was the extreme September heat that posed a greater challenge, with fruit still on the vine.
When temperatures began to soar, the Melanson Vineyard, located on Pritchard Hill, held up well to deep watering, unlike some hillside sites where runoff can be a problem. Its cooler elevation above the valley floor also helped. Yield was down significantly from 2016, but that served us well. Less fruit on the vines meant the berries matured at a faster pace, giving us a large window of opportunity for harvest.
Winemaking & Tasting Notes
Recent vintages of the Pulido~Walker Melanson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon exhibit a broad mix of savory and herbal elements with black fruit. The 2017 is much more red-fruit focused, harkening back to the fresh taste profile of earlier vintages. This refreshing red-fruit quality, accentuated by the heat, is clearly the overarching characteristic of the 2017 Napa Valley vintage.
The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is a similar clonal mix to previous vintages: old vine 7, old vine 337, and young vine 7. We have come to rely on the bright, red-fruited clone 337 to complement the intensity of clone 7. However, the preponderance of red fruit in all lots meant the final blend required less 337 to shine. We’re pleased to offer a Melanson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon that doesn’t demand great patience to thoroughly enjoy.
Thomas Rivers Brown, Winemaker