By Jonathan H. Newman*
Mockingbird Hill Reserve Napa Valley 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
UNIT SIZE: 750.00 ml
VARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon
GRAPE: Cabernet Sauvignon
COUNTRY: United States
REGION: Napa Valley
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 14.50%
This 100% Cabernet has so much going for it. The Roca Ranch is grown right near the famed Stagecoach Vineyard in Napa Valley’s Atlas Peak appellation. It is made by winemaker Kyle Laird and from the 2010 vintage, which is just beginning to hit its stride. This wine spent 3 years in oak, 36% of which was new. To be fair, give it a little time and you can see how it evolves in the glass even over a period of an hour. This is one you want to aerate for early enjoyment as the tannins are just now rounding into form. The wine is from intense mountain fruit with a 1,700 ft. elevation. They are 27-year-old vines planted in red, volcanic soils. This Mockingbird Hill Reserve Cabernet has expressive flavors of black cherries, currants, dark chocolate, plum, black raspberry and kirsch. The palate has rounding tannins with nice oak integration and a long finish. Pair this Cab with veal chops, rib eye steaks with garlic, Tournedos of beef with a Port wine sauce, or Moroccan lamb with apricots, honey and almond. 1,218 cases were produced.
By Mockingbird Hill Winery
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Region: Napa Valley
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
TA: 6.39 g/L
Aging: Aged for 36 months - 36% new oak, mostly thin stave Ermitag barrels which allow the fruit to develop beautifully over time.
Sometimes it’s often what a winemaker does not do to the grapes, which helps elevate a wine from good to great. When working with an excellent, high-elevation vineyard in one of Napa’s premier appellations the key is to preserve the inherent qualities of the fruit while also enabling its best attributes to shine. Finding the right balance with flavorful and potent grapes requires a winemaker with a skilled hand in the cellar and a respect for the vineyard. Kyle Laird, who has worked in Napa Valley for more than 20 years, has the patience and respect needed to assemble such a wine. Near the famed Krupp Brothers Stagecoach Vineyard, the 2010 Mockingbird is from Roca Ranch Vineyards situated in the Atlas Peak AVA high above the Napa Valley floor (1700 feet - rolling hills). Atlas Peak is one of the smaller AVAs with less than 1% of the total barring acreage in the Napa Valley, characterized by the Peak that it is named after and beautiful red soils. Temperatures in this region of Napa Valley are generally ten degrees cooler than the valley floor and that helps prolong the ripening season so the grapes achieve full phenolic ripeness. The vines are planted on steep slopes composed of relatively thin volcanic soils and produce low yields and small clusters. These 27 years old vines are in balance with their rooting system digging deep. Sustainable growing practices from the beginning allows this unique vineyard to thrive in this rugged terrior.
Once at the winery, the grapes are gently destemmed and collected in half-ton bins that are dumped into open-top oak fermentation vats. The whole berries press against each other in the tank releasing a small amount of juice that helps start fermentation from the ambient yeasts from the vineyard and in the winery. A relatively long and slow fermentation helps bring out the full spectrum of flavors in the grapes. The open-top fermentation tanks allow for a small percentage of alcohol to evaporate and that helps keep the wine in balance. The finished, “free-run” wine is drained from the tanks into a roughly even mix of new, one year old and two year old French oak barrels to finish aging. Laird carefully evaluates the pressed wine and typically waits for it to finish elevage before incorporating it in the wine. “With a site like this and grapes like this, the trick is really letting the wine almost make itself,” he says. “You can’t rush it, can’t force it into a specific program or try and paint by the numbers with it. I know it sounds like a cliché but I really believe wine is made in the vineyard and you need to remember that in the cellar.”
Aromas of dark fruit, blackberry, currant with a hint of black pepper are complemented by some slight floral notes. The wine’s color is marked by a hint of brick red and the flavors are comprised of more dark, ripe berry flavors that are held together with sturdy tannins. The wine has a full, rich mouthfeel that lasts through to a lengthy and smooth finish.
[Information provided by J.H.N.]
*Jonathan Newman was Wine Enthusiasts’ Man of the Year. He also was Chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, and received national recognition in Marvin Shanken’s Market Watch Magazine and many other international wine publications. He was also awarded the Guild of Sommeliers highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Newman's reviews have been published and quoted extensively online and in print. He travels extensively to many of the major wine growing regions and evaluates many of the wines we source from smaller and boutique wineries. We interact closely with him and the result is his rejection rate of over 96% of the wines evaluated.