Erba Mountainside Vineyards
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Napa Valley
- Final Assessment
- Today’s 94 Point (Wine Enthusiast) is a table-worthy and cellar-worthy wine that we offer to you with our heartiest recommendation. Classic Napa Valley, this high-elevation Cabernet is grown in optimum conditions, with strong daytime sunlight and ample evening cooling. Juicy, plush and aromatic, this wine delights all of the sense. A very long, miner-laden finish with a hint of spice and graphite at the tail end encourages the drinker to take long, thoughtful pauses between sips.
Enjoy this prized wine now, but be sure to lay a few bottles down for the next several years - or more. Pair this very food-friendly wine with a hearty grilled steak, pot roast or braised short ribs.
Viewed side-on, this wine shows dark burgundy hues, with magenta edges. Spin the wine, though, and it looks like dark garnet. After the wine settles, viscous legs march slowly down the glass wall, streaking the glass with burgundy coloring.
Bold blackberry and black cherry are well out in front. These are closely followed by savory spices, herbs and tobacco leaf. As the wine breathes, it opens up to reveal cedar bark, black pepper, toasty vanilla and graphite.
Dark and rich, with bold black cherry, blackberry and wild strawberry. After the wine breathes for a while, it expands, revealing additional flavors of hard leather, tobacco leaf, red plum, dried red flower petals, dried cranberry and graphite.
Very long and packed with red and black fruit flavors. Black fruit gives way to red fruit, very gradually. Red fruits sustain for a long time, ultimately succumbing to earthy notes of spice, flowers, tobacco and dry minerals.
What the Winery Says
Planted to all five Bordeaux varietals as well as Syrah, the Erba Mountainside Vineyard team has been blessed with a ‘next to perfect’ setting nestled well above the fog line. The vineyard is a twenty acre parcel consisting of fourteen blocks. Each row receives abundant sunshine through the early morning and mid-day, followed by forgiving Westerly breezes and cooling shade in the afternoon. To put it simply, each acre of Erba Mountainside wines consistently display a dark and richly complex, site specific character that you would only expect from the most seasoned wines. It all begins in that ‘next to perfect’ setting.
- Located on the Eastern slope of Atlas Peak, Erba Mountainside Vineyard typically receives early morning and mid afternoon sun. The soils are volcanic and porous enabling the heat to radiate. Cooling breezes typically rush through the mountains at times taking the temperature down 30° F by late afternoon. The temperature change is vital to maintain acid structure in the grapes.
- At harvest, clusters are hand picked, destemmed and sorted prior to crushing. Malolactic fermentation is done in barrique. 100% French Oak is used throughout, and Cabernet is exposed to 80% new to enable the vineyard characteristics to come through in the wine.
- Tasting Notes
- Deep and rich with glass gripping glycerin; the deep purple color could easily be discerned as black. The first aromas reflect the vineyard well - smoky, volcanic ash influenced terrior with elements of violet and black cherry. The flavor of black fruits including cherry and blackberry are followed by freshly cut tobacco and spice. Tannins are smooth, but young and unobtrusive.
- Harvest Dates
- September 7-October 7, 2004
- 100% French, 80% New
- 0.65 g/100mL
- Total Production
- 905 cases
- 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4.5% Merlot, 2.5% Petit Verdot
About the Winery
In 1998, after two years in searching for a site that could be developed into a premium,world class vineyard, the goal was finally achieved. Erba Mountainside Vineyards possesses the attributes for a unique terroir with features of steep slopes at high elevations of 1100 to 1550 feet above sea level with very rocky volcanic soils.
The vineyard has a unique microclimate next to Atlas Peak. It is above the morning fog which allows abundant sunshine throughout the day to ripen the grapes fully. Cooling westerly breezes come over the mountain midday and in the late afternoon the mountain ridge shades the hot afternoon sun.
The vineyard was developed into 14 blocks with a total of 20 acres planted. Each block has varying row direction and slope and therefore each block is harvested separately for optimum ripeness. Tight vineyard spacing was used to give the vines more competition to improve grape quality. Rootstock and varietal recommendations from Paul Skinner, PhD, matched the soil to the rootstock to keep vigor low and balanced. With much research the highest quality, low yielding clones were chosen, including many of the ENTAV-INRA clones from France. All five Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, as well as Syrah were planted. Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for approximately 70% of the vineyard plantings, and all wines are made from the estate grapes.
Winemaker Luc Morlet
Luc Morlet is a Masters graduate of Enology from Rheims University, France and holds a Viticulture degree from Ecole Viticole de Champagne. His viticultural and winemaking knowledge was furthered by technical tours of the European wine regions of Italy, Spain, Germany and the French areas of Alsace, Cognac, Rhône and Loire Valley.
Upon completion of graduate school, Luc’s first full time position was as the Assistant-Winemaker for the Val d’Or Champagne Cellars. In 1993, he replaced the Winemaker at a French subsidiary in St Helena, which allowed him to discover Napa Valley and Sonoma County’s unique viticultural conditions. In 1994, Luc became the ‘Régisseur’ at Château Dauzac, a classified Margaux growth, and perfected his skills making Bordeaux style wines, under the guidance of consultant Jacques Boissenot.
Newton Vineyard of Napa Valley hired Luc as Director of Viticulture and Enology in 1996. While there he crafted the highly rated and famous “Chardonnay Unfiltered” wine(1996 through 2000). He has also been Winemaker for the Staglin family of the famous Rutherford Bench at the heart of the Napa Valley.
In spring 2001, Luc joined the Peter Michael Winery of Knights Valley as Winemaker. His technical leadership helped the Peter Michael Winery to improve upon its already acclaimed wines. In order to insure the continuity of style, Luc still remains involved with Peter Michael Winery as Consulting Winemaker, advising his brother Nicolas Morlet who succeeded him as Winemaker in January of 2006.
Luc describes his winemaking philosophy as a non-interventionist winemaking style driven by an ongoing search for quality improvement.