As a “young man,” I encountered Mount Veeder for the first time nearly forty years ago. So different I thought from the rest of Napa Valley. It was the home of my first job, working in the vineyards on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains. Every year since, my wine career has been entwined with this very special appellation--winemaker at Mount Veeder Winery whose focus was Cabernet Sauvignon, and of course more than 25 years of producing Zinfandel from those magnificent old vines of Brandlin Vineyard. Arguably it became our flagship and most sought-after wine.
In 2016 I returned to my earliest winemaking roots, with our first Cabernet Sauvignon from Brandlin Vineyard. To say it was an exciting and emotional experience would be an understatement. Equally exciting were the accolades the wine received as well as the subsequent vintage, and both quickly sold out.
Over the last several decades I have observed the cycles of winemaking styles. As I enter my “twilight years,” the goal remains even more so, to produce wines that are fresh, balanced, complex, and palatable. As I’ve mentioned many times, “delicious” is the word we like to hear. Mountain fruit can easily result in ponderous and over the top wines, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
As drought conditions continue in 2022, it’s hard to believe that 2019 began with ample winter rainfall resulting in happy vines! Spring conditions allowed excellent fruit set producing an abundant crop. Summer saw few extremes with moderate temperatures throughout the growing season. Harvest began in a more normal timeframe, and without extreme weather we were able to harvest at our leisure when grapes were precisely ripe.
Because our block of Cabernet rests on the hilltop ridge, grapes ripen evenly, sometimes a challenge in the mountains. Curiously enough, it sits adjacent to those 90-year-old Zinfandel vines, surely capturing some of the magic and energy of those vines.
Youthful dark ruby in color, our 2019 presents a vibrant and enticing medley of aromas—classic cassis, bay, white pepper, graphite, and dried herbs. The expansive and youthful palate reflects the nose with a structure perhaps a bit firmer than the 2018. The wine is opulent, focused, and seamless--held in check with a finish that lingers and surprises. Here is proof that mountain Cabernets can offer restraint and balance!
As one highly renowned wine writer recently wrote, “Another total knockout from Peter Franus.”