If I were to describe the Far Niente Estate Cabernet Sauvignon harvest in two words, they would be short yet intense!
Across the Napa Valley, Cabernet vineyards did not yield much fruit. Because of cool weather at bloom and fruit set during the spring, many of the flowers did not actually turn into grapes. The loose and small clusters ripened quickly in the warm summer season, with several waves of heat at harvest time. The sugars accumulated quickly, yet sugar alone does not indicate ripeness.
When to pick is a critical decision, which is why we start sampling weeks before harvest time. Color, firmness of the skins, maturity of the seeds, and the taste of the fruit itself are all important, and more than once, I had to remind myself to be patient and wait for the flavor and tannin maturity that is a hallmark of the Martin Stelling Vineyard. That being said, we still brought in the last of our fruit on October 1st!
Our small and ripe Oakville Cabernet berries have offered up rich, juicy fruit flavors in the fermenters. So far color is dark and tannins are moderate to big, allowing us to give the wines a little bit more skin contact time than in the previous few vintages. They are tasting beautifully balanced at pressing.
From here, it’s about four-to-six weeks until the last of our Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon will go into barrel. We have several lots in barrel now, with more going down each week. I’m imagining everything will be in barrel and resting in our estate wine caves by mid-November. We rarely finish barreling everything before Thanksgiving. The early end date is a definite silver lining for everyone on our cellar and harvest teams!
As we move further into the fall season, we'll slow down and give focused attention to tasting and watching our 2015 Cabernet lots as they develop in barrel.
It's with the idea of slowing down and enjoying the comfort foods of fall that Chef Trevor created this savory pappardelle and lamb recipe. It's rich, with a hint of spice, and pairs beautifully with your best Napa Cabernets!
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