2019 Release, Napa Valley Cabernet SauvignonUdsolgt
888 bottles produced (+149 magnums)
2019 provided Napa Valley wineries with an unprecedented growing season. With moderate to cooler temperatures in Spring and fairly high levels of moisture in the ground, vines generally were off to a delayed start. Showers during bloom in May also provided conditions that on the face looked like it could be a challenging season.
However, even and moderate temperatures from June into August allowed vines to balance their growth and by late-August, as berry and cluster size were fully developed, it was clear that 2019 would be a memorable vintage.
In my 20+ years in Napa I have personally never witnessed any other vintage where flavor development appeared as early as they did in 2019. Not necessarily correlating to usual Brix or pH values, by late August/early September, most red grapes showed complexities and flavors usually appearing much later in season.
Harvest at Release Winery is always guided by taste, overall phenolic ripeness and skin maturity, rather than dictated by Lab numbers. With an early season on hand the ability to allow grapes longer hangtime on the vines, in order to gain additional flavors, aromatics and further complexity was an opportunity not to be missed.
Harvest therefore took place only late in September on the 26th, on which a total of 3.27 tons of the unique Cabernet Sauvignon clone "Weimer", were picked off the few rowes at our treasured hillside vineyard atop Atlas Peak AVA.
As usual the must undervent an initial cold-soak and alcoholic fermentation in open-top barrels with daily punch-downs. Unlike most other vintages, overall balance and structure was achieved after only 17 days of fermentation at which point the free-run wine were drained and the skins pressed off.
The somewhat short maceration is no doubt part of the reason why the wine seemed to constantly improve during barrel-aging. For this reason, and to allow "the wine to guide the winemaker" rather than the other way around, for the first time ever it spent a total of 34 months maturing in seasoned French oak barrels. It was finally racked off and bottled unfined and unfiltered in July 2022 and takes its place amongst the most special vintages and expressive wine crafted by Release Winery.