What We Say 2005 Stuhlmuller Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
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Mission Codename: Puttin’ on the Fritz
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Souverain and secure an allocation of their winery exclusive 2005 Stuhlmuller Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Souverain
Wine Subject: 2005 Stuhlmulller Vineyard Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Ed Killian
Today’s wine is made from the fabled Stuhlmuller Vineyard, set at the northern end of the pristine Alexander Valley. The Alexander Valley itself, is located in northeast Sonoma County, on the western side of the Mayacamas range. It extends westward to the edge of the Russian River Valley. This appellation was formerly considered a part of Dry Creek Valley but became its own appellation in November 1984. The region is best known for exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but recently people are starting to discover its Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Chardonnay as well.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep red cranberry color, with a deepening heart of dark plum. At the edge of the glass, a brilliant ruby ring encircles the glass. The wine appears dense when swirled. When the wine settles, it leaves behind thick legs that retain the color of the wine.
Smell – Deep and lush, with heady layers of blackberry, cranberry, blueberry and black cherry. These mingle with softer aromas of clove, bramble, dusty earth and mint. Below the surface, hints of oak, and crush dried flower petals round out the nose.
Feel – Plush and very smooth, with a wonderful softness at the entry, and a crushed velvet feel at the mid-palate. Smooth tannins are supported by a bright acidity and a wonderful, softly bracing black pepper.
Taste – Dark and complex with bold black and red fruit, lead by black plum, blackberry and smoky stewed black fig. Then, flavors of black cherry, cranberry and toasted oak mingle with a subtle herbal component. Eventually, these flavors all yield to flinty minerals, black pepper and crushed black flower petals.
Finish – Very long and very vibrant, with a red fruits yielding to black fruits, before a soft hit of black pepper and crushed, dried flower petals bring a delicious and mouthwatering end to the wonderful flavors of this wine.
Conclusion – The 2005 Souverain Stuhlmuller Vineyard Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a fantastic wine from what is, increasingly, a favorite appellation for Sonoma County Cabernet. Combine our love for the region – and the winery – with our experience with the Stuhlmuller Vineyard, and you have a real winner of a wine. Fritz Stuhlmuller is a masterful grower and winemaker, and his gorgeous Alexander Valley vineyards – which are composed of gravel, clay, and volcanic soils – produce fantastic wine grapes. Today’s wine, with its bold flavors, deep aromatics and lush feel is an elegant but lively character. Enjoy with a grilled steak – or enjoy it all on its own.
AGENT RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ED KILLIAN: Stuhlmuller Cab is a single vineyard designate that we have produced for many years from one of our stellar long term growers – Roger Stuhlmuller. It’s 100% Cab from great Alexander Valley fruit, aged in 100% new French oak, and displays the classic terroir of the south valley – ripe boysenberry like fruit and a fleshy, thick tannin quality with great balance. 2005 was an especially accessible vintage with plummy ripe fruit but quite soft tannins, so this is drinking well right now.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ED: Butter flied leg of lamb BBQ roasted with garlic and rosemary.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Alexander Valley so special?
ED: Alexander Valley’s warmer inland climate (relative to the rest of Sonoma Co) and rocky bench lands combine for perfect growing conditions for Cab. The variety achieves nice flavor concentration of blackberry, black cherry fruit, while retaining a balanced soft tannin structure making the wine dense but accessible.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ED: Still trying to put all those nice 2010 reds to bed in barrels and thinking about starting fresh blends of 2010 Sauvignon Blanc for bottling. In the spring we’ll start bringing some of our 2009 reds out for blending and bottling.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the beautiful Stuhlmuller Vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This elegant Cabernet Sauvignon has captivating aromas of blackcurrant, boysenberry, clove and mint. The palate is packed with rich black and blue fruit flavors that mingle with notes of roasted coffee, cola, and chocolate-covered cherries…
The 2005 vintage will best be known for its vigor due to an extended growing season brought on by a mild, temperate summer and fall. The season got off to a rainy start, and May was the wettest in over one hundred years. With a cool start to June, July was summer-like but lacked heat spikes. As a result, the grapes enjoyed extended hang time, allowing the fruit to fully mature delivering ripe, delicious flavors. Harvest was late but very compressed, avoiding late fall rainstorms.
The Stuhlmuller Vineyard, from which this wine takes its name, is located in the southern reaches of the Alexander Valley and consistently yields classic Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is saturated purple in color with a brick-red rim. This elegant Cabernet Sauvignon has captivating aromas of blackcurrant, boysenberry, clove and mint. The palate is packed with rich black and blue fruit flavors that mingle with notes of roasted coffee, cola, and chocolate-covered cherries. This wine has all the classic elements we have come to know and love in a great Cab, especially from the Stuhlmuller Vineyard: soft, round tannins and a finish that lingers on and on.
About The Winery:
Authentic – Wines that are the best expression of each varietal and Alexander Valley
Attainable – Exceptional wines that you can drink every day
Award Winning – A sixty-year history of unsurpassed wine quality as noted by the wine press
At Souverain, our goal is to make authentic wines that are the best expression of each varietal and Alexander Valley. We believe our consumers deserve to drink great wine every night, so our wines are exceptional & attainable. Our love affair with producing wines has stretched back over 60 years and during that time our award winning wines have received numerous accolades and praise from the wine press.
In the end, though, the most important award to us is a satisfied consumer.
Having worked with the same growing areas – and in some cases the same vineyards – for more than 25 years, Ed Killian knows the vineyards of Alexander Valley inside and out. He understands which blocks will give him the fruit he’s looking for to create Souverain’s signature style. He believes the most important part of winemaking is learning the characteristics and tendencies of the vineyards.
Ed joined Souverain winery as associate winemaker in 1992 from Lambert Bridge Winery in Dry Creek Valley. In his role as associate winemaker, Ed had a strong hand in every aspect of winemaking at Souverain, and was named winemaker in May of 1996. As winemaker, Ed views his role as the steward of the Souverain name and historical legacy. He uses his expertise to craft Alexander Valley wines on which he’s proud to put the Souverain name.
Souverain has such an incredible history of making distinct wines, and I constantly work to carry on that legacy and tradition, says Ed Killian. The beautiful, concentrated fruit of our 120-year-old Alexander Valley Estate Vineyards contributes to this, as do our cellar techniques and our new state-of-the-art winemaking facility. My mission is to continue to craft wines that represent the best of Alexander Valley.
Ed serves on the Board of the Alexander Valley Winegrowers, and is a member of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture and the California Enological Research Association. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Redlands and a master’s in enology at the University of California at Davis. Upon graduation Ed worked as a research enologist for Guild Wineries before joining Lambert Bridge in 1981.
He and his wife, Jean – both native Californians – have lived in Healdsburg since 1981. When Ed is not making wine, he is an avid home brewer and also enjoys cooking, scuba diving and gardening
The history of Souverain began in the Napa Valley in 1944 when J. Leland “Lee” Stewart harvested his first crop of wine grapes from his Howell Mountain property in the northern part of the valley.
At the suggestion of his young daughter, Stewart named his winery “Souverain” (taken from the French word for “sovereign” or “supreme”), and his Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings from the 1960s were considered by many to be just that.
In the years that followed, Stewart used innovation and a natural gift for winemaking to establish Souverain as one of the great California wineries.
The winery moved to the Alexander Valley when Stewart eventually sold it in 1973. Stewart stayed on as a consultant throughout the construction of the new facility. In 1976, a limited partnership of growers took control and by 1981, Stewart had fully retired from winemaking.
Beringer winery bought Souverain in 1986 and added the word Chateau to the Souverain brand name. In 1992, Ed Killian was hired on as Associate Winemaker and by 1996 he was the head Winemaker.
In 2006, Souverain built a state-of-the-art winemaking facility surrounded by the 120-year-old Souverain Estate Vineyards in the Alexander Valley, near Cloverdale, where Winemaker Ed Killian has long been sourcing the grapes for his award-winning Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.
While the name, faces and location of the winery have changed over the years, the tradition of fine wine production continues at Souverain today. Just as Lee Stewart began, Ed Killian consistently produces outstanding wines that represent the best of their region.
Appellation: Alexander Valley
Components: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Harvest: October 1 to 14, 2005
Total Acids: 0.58g/100ml
Cooperage: Aged 30 months in new French oak barrels
Release: February 2009
Case Production: 243 Cases