Twelve years ago, well before many were seriously considering the potential of Lake County, one of my best growers, Jim Fore, took a gamble and purchased property on the top of Cobb Mountain. The vineyard site is located a few miles east of Sonoma County and a dozen miles north of Napa Valley's Calistoga.
This is a spectacular property, situated at 3000 feet elevation. Soils are thin in the Red Hills and drain instantly. The elevation places vines well above the hot summer heat trapped in the valleys below, and aligns them in the path of cool westerly Pacific breezes. At the same time, there is paradoxically greater solar intensity that has some magical and perhaps inexplicable effect on the grapes. Because of the high elevation, the differential between day and night time temperatures is dramatic. This results in grapes with intense flavor and color development.
This is truly one of the most picturesque vineyards that we have the pleasure to work with.
The 2012 growing season was a welcome relief after three challenging vintages. A warm dry spring provided uniform budbreak, flowering, and fruit set. Mild and ideal growing conditions pretty much followed throughout the summer resulting in even ripening and a relatively long growing season. Moderate conditions put little pressure on the vines—no issues of significant rain or extreme heat.
As for our 2012 Rhône blend. Its dark ruby and youthful color is classic. A kaleidoscope of aromas presents itself—clove, smoked ham, and the pepper of Syrah, but the lavender and floral notes of Grenache and Mourvèdre soon warrant attention. The bright lively structure with its blueberry and anise flavors is impeccable, and the wine finishes with a dash of black pepper and great length. Although certainly accessible, this wine will hold together for many years. As the vineyard continues to mature, we find that the resulting wines have become more vibrant and accessible in recent years.
We travel extensively and are continuously presenting our wines around the world. There always tends to be a “sleeper,” a wine that perhaps unexpectedly draws people in. Our Red Hills Red has become that wine.