2004 Cabernets - Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc Blend
California: Napa Valley: Mt. Veeder
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Random Ridge has quickly become one of our operatives’ favorite boutique wineries and today’s selection shows the unique character of their esteemed Mount Veeder vineyard.
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Mission Codename: Graciously Generous & Bold
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Visit our friends at Random Ridge and secure a library raid allocation of their delicious 2004 Cabernets, an amazing Mt. Veeder Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon blend
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Random Ridge
Wine Subject: 2004 Mount Veeder Cabernets – Cab Sauv / Cab Franc Blend
Winemaker: Bill Hawley
Mt. Veeder, located on the eastern slopes of the Mayacamas range has a climate that is cooler than the valley floor below. This climate and the more difficult (less fertile) volcanic mountain soil influence the flavors of the wines from this region. Best known for Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt. Veeder vineyards produce grapes of exceptional character and intensity.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep, dark and dense garnet purple with a intense but clear heart that shows just hints of garnet reflections when tilted into the light. Along the edges, the color becomes more ruby red and when swirled, tightly spaced thin but color stained legs hang on the side of the glass.
Smell – Rich and redolent with aromas of earthy mineral laced black and red fruit including black cherry, currants, black raspberry and other intense berries. Cedar cigar box and a little sandalwood blend with exotic and black pepper spice. Hints of dried herbs and floral notes adds complexity under the rich fruit.
Feel – Warm, spicy and expansive on the palate, this dry full-bodied wine has finely grained tannins and amble acidity that hits mid palate along with highly textured minerality and some spice heat.
Taste – Tightly woven flavors of dark fruit blend with woody notes of cedar and oak, spiced black pepper, dark earthy minerals, wild anise, dried green herbs and even hints of bittersweet chocolate. Bold and powerful, needing time, so be patient so reveal all its depth and complexity on the palate.
Finish – Medium-long with the dark fruit fading first and followed by the spicy pepper heat and textured mineral notes. As the fruit and spice fades the palate dries leaving behind dried herbal and floral hints and notes of the cedar and oak found on the nose.
Conclusion – The 2004 Random Ridge Mount Veeder Cabernets is a fantastic and complex wine with great depth of aromas. Its highly textured minerality and acidity makes this a great blend to pair with rich meats (especially grass fed beef). Tightly woven and focused with classic cab flavors are packed in and a finish that is both tasted and felt. Give this wine plenty of time to open up. Enjoy tonight or cellar for another seven to ten years.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
WINE EDUCATION: Bill graduated with honors with a degree in poetry from Sonoma State College in 1974. His senior project focused on the influence of Zen Buddhism on the poetry of the San Francisco renaissance and the Beats.
He met Phil Coturri studying poetry at college and was inspired by him and his brother Tony in the cult of winemaking and grapegrowing. He has taken courses in winemaking and viticulture at UC Davis extension, Napa College, and Santa Rosa Junior College. He has traveled to many wine regions to study winemaking and surfing, including France (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, Languedoc, Champagne), Spain (Rioja), Portugal, Madeira, Chile, Baja Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia (Margaret River).
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Bill lived and worked at BR Cohn Vineyards in 1975, spending a full season on the Cohn ranch in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. He worked at Kenwood Winery in 1977 and In 1978 helped build a winery in Sonoma for Walter Benson that later became Haywood and is now Ravenswood. He then worked as vineyard manager for Chalone at Carmenet Vineyards from 1982-1988, and at the same time planted the first vines at Random Ridge.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Wine is made in the vineyard. It’s all about this place on earth.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Grow good grapes and get out of the way.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1988
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Bill. We are thrilled to be showing your 2004 Mount Veeder Cabernets today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BILL HAWLEY: It’s always great to be on another mission with you, Agent White!
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BILL: In grapegrowing, Joe Miami, the longtime manager at Louis Martini’s Monte Rosso. In winemaking, I was very intrigued by Martin Ray at Mt. Eden and Adre Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu. Later, Dick Graff from Chalone opened my eyes wide to the pleasure of food and wine combinations.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
BILL: I make wines to suit my palate. I am not making wines for review, I am making wine for myself, my family, and my friends and I hope to reach out to kindred souls who appreciate a rich man’s wine at a poor man’s price.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BILL: A perfect growing season with extended hang time led to a leisurely and bountiful harvest of luscious ripe grapes from a single vineyard, meticulously farmed at 2200’ on the edge of an ancient caldera. With a minimalist & gentle hand in the cellar, the synergistic typicité of Bordeaux varietals show a wine vibrant with personality & well endowed, powerful, intense, effusive, balanced, persistent & focused terroir driven – a true expression of a special spot on earth. Dark extracted and generous in flavor, fleshy, hedonistic, plush, engaging, redolent in red currant, plum, spice, licorice, cocoa, cedar & garrique with an explosion of pure fruit properly bottle conditioned & good to go.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BILL: I like it paired with meats grilled over a wood fire of manzanita or seasoned oak barrel staves. Rack of lamb with potato risotto is also a perfect accompaniment. This wine also works well with rustic crusty bread and local goat cheese.
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Mr. Veeder appellation so special?
BILL: It’s the elevation, inclination, climate, rocks, and volcanic soil. What’s not often talked about with grapegrowing in the mountains is that we are above the fog, and the intensity of the sunlight influences the flavors and colors of the grapes. Growing grapes up here takes a certain maverick spirit and tenacity — this is labor-intensive viticulture. We have a long growing season and the vines struggle to survive. All farming up here is a hand job.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BILL: Vineyard has just moved through bloom, looks good, vigorous & healthy. Winery-wise, figuring out the blends preparatory to bottling the 2010s.
WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
BILL: With a meal or without, in crystal or a mason jar, but definitely with friends and by candlelight.
WHITE: 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 Mt. Veeder Appellation in Napa can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Immense persistent complex gracious generous. Well integrated expressive varietal characteristics. Ripe muscular lively full throttle hedonistic. Garrigue(fr.) brushy brambly anise lavender sage. Spicy black pepper wild raspberry. Redolent in cherry currant cedar plum licorice chocolate. Copacetic today but will reward further cellaring.
Vineyard Notes: Terraced dense intensive planting at 2200 feet sculpted from rock. Terroir driven (a unique place on earth).
About The Vineyard:
On the edge of an ancient caldera on the western border of the Mount Veeder District, Random Ridge is a 47-acre ranch that straddles the Napa and Sonoma county line at an elevation of 2300 feet. Bill Hawley built the family home with recycled materials in 1980 and planted the first vines in the spring of 1982. The vineyard is currently 10 acres densely planted with a simple vertical trellis system, yielding roughly 1.5 tons per acre. The soil is decomposed volcanics, tuff, and solid rock.
About Random Ridge:
Random Ridge produces fine wines from vineyards pioneered by the Hawley family in the Mayacamas mountains of Napa County, California. We also write poetry, surf, and practice sustainable agriculture.
Random Ridge produces wines in very limited quantities from vines meticulously maintained to reflect the essence of the soils in which they grow.
We are farmers first but will surf anytime anywhere. Our dedication in the vineyards naturally segues into traditional winemaking practices in the cellar.
We strive to enable the fruit to develop its inherent Buddha nature to become wine of complexity harmony & passion.
Varietals: 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Cabernet Franc
Appellation: Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley
Alcohol: Table Wine / 13.8%
Titratable acidity: .687
Cuvaison: 13 days
Process: Open top hand punchdown fermentation, Malolactic post primary, Filtration… degrossissage(fr.)
Aging: 18 month barrel aged 40% new, 6 years bottle conditioned