2006 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Sonoma County
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Deerfield took its sweet time in releasing today’s wine, waiting until it was perfect. The wine is so good that it easily picked up this special ‘Superior Wine’ recognition.
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Mission Codename: Journey to the Center of the Grape
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Wine Spies’ Operative favorite, Deerfield Ranch Winery, and procure an exclusive Cabernet Sauvignon for our demanding Operatives..
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Deerfield Ranch Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon – Sonoma County
Winemaker: Robert Rex
Backgrounder: Located in Kenwood, California, Deerfield Ranch Winery is a Wine Spies Operative favorite. The winery has proved elusive in recent times, but Agent Red was able to secure a limited allotment of today’s 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, a balanced, boldly delicious Cabernet Sauvignon, for our demanding Operatives.
Sonoma County’s first vines were planed way back in 1825 by Spanish missionaries. This unique micro-climate region receives less rain and is less influenced by the fog making this warmer AVA ideal for Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet hues, with a darker, slightly opaque core. At the edge of the glass, a ruby ring encircles the wine. After swirling, tall, skinny rears form high up on the glass wall, before they inch slowly down the glass.
Smell – Leads with primary notes of boldly spiced cherry, strawberry, overripe blackberry, black cherry and dark brown spice. As the wine opens up, it reveals fresh berry bramble, supple leather, cedar, plum skin and a hint of black pepper.
Feel – Soft and cool on entry, the wine quickly gains weight and dimension at the mid-palate. Gradually, a soft, flinty minerality spreads around the palate, drying as it moves.
Taste – Focused and flavor-filled, the wine starts with black cherry, dried blackberry, bramble, dried leather, spice and cocoa dust. After some swirling, the wine opens up and delivers notes of tobacco, blueberry and cracked pepper.
Finish – Very long and filled with flavor, this wine starts with red fruit that gradually fades, giving way to more subtle earthen favors. At the very end, cracked pepper is ushered in by a drying, flinty minerality.
Conclusion – Today’s wonderful 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon comes to us from our dear friends at Deerfield Ranch Winery. This wine is a classic Sonoma County Cabernet, with a delicious balance between bright, authentic fruit, and more earthy, rustic characteristics. Where some wineries are releasing 2009 Cabs (some of them way before they are even ready), Deerfield only just released this wine. Held in the winery’s labyrinthine wine cave, the wine was held until it was ready. Major kudos to Deerfield for this sort of attention to the wine and the care of us wine drinkers. Pair this delicious wine with your favorite grilled meat dish, or enjoy it all on its own. Decant for best results and be sure to buy enough bottles to lay a few down for the next several years. We think that this wine will continue to develop beautifully. This wine gets a very big Wine Spies recommendation.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Robert Rex
WINE EDUCATION: 38 years of wine making experience
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Robert Rex is a “renaissance man” possessing a great palate and an exceptional talent for winemaking. He is a chemist, graphic designer and accomplished gourmet cook. He has the ability to fix almost anything. The harvest of 2010 will be Robert’s 38th consecutive year of winemaking. Robert and PJ, his wife and business partner, have lived in Kenwood, Sonoma Valley, for 28 years at their beautiful hilltop retreat, Deerfield Ranch, where the Deerfield Ranch Winery was founded. The view out their back door of Sonoma Mountain is the inspiration for the winery logo.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Making wine is like gourmet cooking. We start with the finest ingredients, grapes farmed by growers who put as much attention into the vines as we do into the wines. Great wine begins in the vineyard. We have worked with the same growers year after year to perfect a partnership to produce the best wine. By drawing from many vineyards, we get grapes from appellations where varietals grow the best. We allow the grapes to fully vine ripen, hand pick and sort the grapes, and use the most gentle production techniques. We produce wines using organic methods and are on of only three certified organic producing wineries in Sonoma.
We make wine by hand in small lots and taste them constantly to manage their constant change. We experiment with the latest techniques while operating from a foundation of tradition. We mold and nudge the wines in one direction or another to make them lovely, fruity and delicious to drink. Our reds receive extended barrel aging, which makes them mellow. Attention to cleanliness and balance makes them age worthy.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: Taste the passion
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1982
AGENT RED: Greetings, Robert. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ROBERT: Thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure to share my passion with your Operatives.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ROBERT: When I was 9, I had piece of angel food cake and begged my mother to teach me how to make it. I’ve been in love with cooking ever since and winemaking, especially blending, draws from the same fundamentals. I often say I am a product of my environment in that way, if I had grown up in New York I’d have a restaurant, I grew up in California so I have a winery.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ROBERT: My early mentor was Andre Tchelistcheff who taught me about blending and of course my wife PJ for sure. PJ is very sensitive to histamines and sulfites in wine so all our wines are clean, meaning we triple hand sort the grapes removing anything you wouldn’t feed your baby. As a result our wines have extremely low levels of histamines and sulfites, so anybody can drink them without experiencing headaches or allergic reactions.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
ROBERT: For everyone who enjoys wine. I appreciate the reviewers and bloggers who spend time creating tasting notes and reviews but the best compliment I can get about one of my wines is delicious!
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ROBERT: Our 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, is my favorite Cabernet right now. It is singing, as we say… it’s a the top of its taste profile. It is simply delicious, with nice round fruit in the middle and a perfect balance of soft tannins and low acid. It has perfect Cabernet flavor without being in your face. It fills every corner of your palate without taking the enamel off your teeth. This Cab is actually a Meritage style blend, which is what I like to do best. It has a big hit (13%) of Cabernet Franc, which gives it a chocolate overtone. A bit of Merlot (10%) for more frontal aromatic character and a touch of Malbec (2%) to enhance the berry flavor in the back of the palate. Extended barrel aging, over three years and longer than any other California winery, softened the wine and married the flavors better than can any bottle aging. It should be selling for at least $50 per bottle in my opinion.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ROBERT: The nice thing about this Cab is that it will pair with a much wider variety of foods than will those overly extracted huge tannic Cabs. You can actually enjoy this wine with your food instead of by itself. The other day we had it with a hearty Paella, which we whipped up one evening with what we had in the refer. A few frozen shrimp the only fish. We used dried Porcini mushrooms, which gave a richness that matched the Cab perfectly. You don’t need a big red meat meal with this wine. Try it with a ham and cheese Panini, you’ll be amazed. Of course it goes great with grilled lamb chops but that’s too easy.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Sonoma County region so special for Cabernet Sauvignon?
ROBERT: Sonoma is a bit cooler on average than its neighbor, Napa. The cooler summer produces thinner skins on the grapes. The thinner skins make for a more elegant wine. This is what makes Sonoma so special for all its wines, including Cabernet. We Sonoma winemakers respond to what Mother Nature gives us so our focus is on elegance and balance. The nights are very cool and we have very low humidity, all these the perfect combination to produce world class grapes. Sonoma is beautiful and the best grapes in the world grow in beautiful places. How could the wine be any less.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ROBERT: We’re bottling wine this week, our Estate organic Syrah and organic Merlot, a Sonoma Valley Zinfandel and a couple of Cabernets. It’s the last time we can touch and taste the wine before we present it to the world and that makes it quite stressful. There is a lot of logistics involved and it takes a big effort from the team. At weeks end we’ll have another 4,000 cases in the cellar and we’ll open a bottle of this 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, to celebrate.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
ROBERT: Passionately. Winemaking is more than a profession, it’s my passion. The long hours and hard work wouldn’t be worth it if I didn’t absolutely love it, and that’s what I want everyone to taste – the passion. Wine is such a delicate art and one that is meant to be enjoyed.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
ROBERT: If you make it to Kenwood please stop by the winery and taste wines in the Grand Room of our wine cave. We always love to take the time to share Deerfield wines with guests. Sante!
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Deerfield Ranch Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Winemaking is a combination of art and science, cooking and chemistry. It’s about the quality of the ingredients, and the interplay of flavors, textures and technique. This blend, done by taste, has its roots in centuries of Bordeaux winemaking and Robert’s 39 years of experience in blending wines.
When we blend wines, we talk about where we taste it on our palate. Each grape flavor focuses on a particular region of the palate, reaching every corner to create a three dimensional experience. This Cabernet Sauvignon blend has a good share of Cabernet Franc, which pushes the flavors to the upper palate and adds a chocolate note. Merlot gives it extra nose and Malbec a Blackberry essence. Extended barrel aging made the tannins soft and the wine elegant.
About The Winery:
Deerfield Ranch Winery is an award-winning winery located in the heart of the Sonoma Valley at Kenwood. We specialize in small lots of handmade wine from select Northern California vineyards. Currently we have 17 vineyards under contract and make as many as 40 separate lots of wine from those vineyards.
Our wines can be tasted FREE at the Family Wineries of Sonoma Valley tasting room at 9200 Sonoma Highway (Highway 12) in Kenwood.
We make several wine varietals and blends, something for everyone, a wine for every occasion
Production lots vary from 250 cases to 1000 cases. We will produce about 8,000 cases in 2005, and plan to grow to a maximum of 25,000 cases per year in our New Winery.
About The Winemakers:
Robert Rex started making wine in 1972 in Berkeley, California. He has worked for many different wineries, started wineries for others, specializing in rebuilding wineries and starting winemaking programs for those wineries when they changed hands. He has taught winemaking and still acts as a consulting winemaker.
Michael Browne, a native of Washington state, started making wine as an intern at Deerfield Ranch Winery in 1997. Now in his 6th year at Deerfield Michael handles the day to day cellar duties at the winery. He maintains and monitors three vintages of wine in the barrel and more than 35 separate lots from the last vintage alone. He is much more than assistant winemaker, he is part of the dynamic duo of Robert and Michael, the winemakers.
Varietals: 75% Cabernet, 13% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, 2% Malbec
Barrel Aged: 36 months in 75% French and 25% American oak barrels