Optima Wine Cellars
2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
What we say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s wine is nothing short of stupendous! Taste it and see for yourself why Optima, and the Alexander Valley, are producing wines that rival the best that the Napa Valley has to offer
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Mission Codename: Napa Rival
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Respond to Operative reports about Optima Winery’s Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that they have been requesting with great zeal. If the wine is as great as reported, procure an ample allotment for our thirsty Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Optima Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Mike Duffy
Backgrounder: Today’s Cabernet Sauvignon comes to us from one of our favorite new wineries, Optima Winery, in Healdsburg. Grown in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley, today’s wine is a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon from select premium vineyard sources
Alexander Valley in northeast Sonoma County is located on the western side of the Mayacamas range and 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.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep burgundy in color with deeply concentrated color to its edges and through its slightly inky dark heart. When swirled, this wine shows off a softly bouncy surface that settles fast, leaving behind
tight clusters if legs that start chubby, then, as they slowly make their way down the glass, they become skinny
Smell – Beautifully aromatic, with deep layers of rich fruits of blackberry, blueberry, raspberry and dark cherry. These are joined by vanilla-oak, soft dark chocolate and hints of dried cranberry and soft spice
Feel – Wet and soft at the front-palate, then medium tannins take hold at the edges and at the cheeks, introducing a soft minerality that tenderly dries the mouth
Taste – Deeply delicious, with layers of authentic, ripe fruit of mixed berries, bramble, dark chocolate, dark plum, spice and a hint of fresh salad herbs
Finish -Long and sweet, then softly tart with great fresh fruit that absolutely shines through brightly as first. Then, flavors tail off slowly, to be replaced by soft spice and minerals at the end
Conclusion – I am very excited to bring you this superb wine today. With big, delicious, concentrated flavors and incredible aromatics, this wine rivals the best Cabernets from Napa. We have always been impressed with Alexander Valley Cabernet, and we have been blessed to sleuth out some of the finest examples. Today’s wine could be considered a spokes-model for Cabernet Sauvignon from this consistently wonderful appellation in Northern Sonoma County. If you love big, hearty Cabs, this is a great wine for you. This wine possesses big character, but I must declare that the wine has the sort of balance that is sometimes absent from big Napa Cabs. What you find in this wine is great flavor, but also the sort of restraint and bright acidity that make it a perfect food companion. This wine gets a very hearty recommendation!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Mike Duffy
DATE OF BIRTH: May 1959
PLACE OF BIRTH: Oregon
WINE EDUCATION: Graduate of UC Davis in Enology
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: When I finished my Enology degree from UCD in 1981, I was already employed as the Assistant Winemaker at Trefethen Vineyards in Napa Valley. "I was very motivated to earn my degree and start working after being a broke college student for so long. I moved to Field Stone as winemaker in 1988, studying under the legendary Andre Tchelistcheff. For nine years, I worked full-time at Field Stone, saving weekends to tend to my own fledging winery, Optima.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon
AGENT RED: Greetings, Mike. I know how busy you are with harvest right now, so I really appreciate the opportunity to talk with you – if even for a few scant minutes, today.
MIKE: Yeah, we have been plenty busy. We crushed thirty tons of grapes today!
RED: Wow. Again, thanks. Tell me, was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MIKE: Yes, I was raised around wine. My first job in High School was helping my parents, Bill and Della, at their wine shop, that is what sparked my interest. Later I played with making wine out of anything I could get out of my parents garden. I would take flats of strawberries, peaches and blackberries and craft them into wine. One time I even raided the rose bushes in the neighborhood so I could make a rose petal champagne
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
MIKE: UC Davis gave me an excellent technical background. It was the basis for my ability to solve problems when they arise. The experience of making wine came from getting in and getting dirty at my internship at Trefethen in 1980. That’s where it all came together for me. I have a unique work ethic and a strong mechanical background, both of which I have my father to thank for. Both those qualities served me well when I left the academic world and helped distinguish me from other classmates and co-workers.
RED: Great places to get your footing! What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MIKE: Andre Tchelistcheff was the biggest influence on how I make Cabernet, and the greatest source of perspective, history and wine knowledge that I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed. He approached the entire winemaking endeavor, from the vineyard in the spring, to harvest, and through barrel aging, as one integrated whole. I learned to take Alexander Valley Cabernet and to use its brilliant fruit as the basis for my wines. “Don’t bother making one of those huge Cabernets like many do in Napa, Mike. Anyone can make wines like those.” Andre would say. He inspired me to make a Cabernet that spoke to the virtues of Alexander Valley. A wine with an intense core of fruit and coco, balanced with vanilla and oak. Complex and powerful, yet subtle and soft. He also impressed on me the critical concept of not manipulating the wine, rather helping it become its best.
RED: You don’t know how many winemakers mention Andre as an influence! How long have you been making wine?
MIKE: Well one could say since I was a child but 2009 will be my 30th harvest in Napa and Sonoma. I still enjoy the “seasonality” of winemaking.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MIKE: I began making wine for my own creative satisfaction. I worked for several top wineries that produced Cabernet, and there was always some step in the process when I said to myself, “If this were my wine I would do this differently”. That need to satisfy my own creativity from beginning to end is why I started my own winery when I was 25. My approach to winemaking combines art and practicality. "I always liked the honesty and hard work of agriculture and to me, winemaking is the ultimate fusion of agriculture and art.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MIKE: Like I said, we are in the thick of Harvest and it feels great, this is one of my favorite times of the year. When things slow down I hope to continue working on some old cars that I am restoring. I know that the two sound dissimilar, but a restoration embodies some of the same qualities needed to make great wine. Patience, attention to detail, craftsmanship and pride. When you finish restoring an old car, people can appreciate the quality and craftsmanship just by looking carefully. Wine is the same, but you’ve got to pop a cork.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
MIKE: I enjoy cooking; to me this is another form of taking an ingredient and using your creativity to make something incredible. My wife thinks I cook so well that she refuses to cook anymore. I love watching all of the cooking shows on TV, especially Iron Chef. I just can’t get enough, they are very inspiring.
RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
MIKE: I enjoy drinking a dry Gewurztraminer from Sonoma County, Anderson Valley, or from the Alsace region of France. It’s a wonderful wine that you can drink alone or with Thai, Asian or Mexican food all of which I enjoy cooking and eating. The best examples have a depth and a perfume that is unbelievable.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans. Your Alexander Valley Cab is stupendous!
MIKE: Thanks, very much, Red. Now, back to the grapes!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Alexander Valley vineyard where today’s exceptional wines was born can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
The 2005 Optima Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is characterized by a wonderful foreword, rich nose with generous bright fruit and deep, concentrated multi-layered aromas of black cherry, Boysenberry, Raspberry, Chocolate and currant. Elements of sweet oak and vanilla carefully complement the ripe fruit flavors and the round, rich middle. Supple, yet with a weighty, very fruity mouthfeel and a moderately tannic finish.
This 2005 vintage was produced from a premier Alexander Valley vineyard. The Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested on October 27, 2005 at 26.2 degrees brix. The grapes were fermented ten days to dryness, then macerated an additional twenty-one days to soften and develop the tannins. Following pressing 90% of the wine was moved to 60 gallon French Oak barrels, 10% into American Oak where it received four gently barrel to barrel racking’s. These racking’s clarify the wine naturally, and eliminate the need for filtration. This vintage was barrel aged for twenty-two months prior to bottling.
About The Winery:
Optima began as a dream producing just 400
cases in 1984, now, the winery is continuing their tradition of producing premium, world class wines. Optima specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel Port, and Chardonnay. Join us in our Tuscan style tasting room and don’t miss our monthly specials.
Mike Duffy born in Salem, Oregon and raised in Redding, CA, Mike seemed destined early in to pursue a career in the wine business. As a youth his dad was an avid home-winemaker, Mike was fascinated by the process and would often times help his dad. When Mike was a sophomore in High school, he had already declared his intention to major in enology at UC Davis.
In 1980, during his last year at Davis, he landed an opportunity to intern at Trefethen Winery, where he had worked briefly during a crush one year. He was soon offered a job as Assistant Winemaker, so he decided to accelerate his schooling by jamming his entire last year into just 2 quarters.
In 1983 Mike moved over to Sonoma County to pursue is own dream of one day owning a winery. He took a job at Field Stone as the winemaker working along side with the Anfre’ Tchelistcheff, a world renowned winemaker, for nine years while crafting his Cabernet for his Optima label. In 1984, Mike purchased grapes of his own, leading to his first production of 400 cases of Cabernet.
Today, Mike along with his wife Nicol and four boys celebrate Optima Winery’s twentieth year, while continuing the tradition of producing premium world class wines.
Nicol was born and raised in Santa Rosa, CA had also always dreamed of being in the wine business. After attending college with an accounting degree she tried to break into the wine business. She soon came to realize that most wineries were family run. So she focused on Public Accounting for eight years until 2000.
Nicol and her son Tyler moved to Healdsburg where her son tried out for a traveling soccer team. Mike was the coach. Mike picked Tyler and so the three of them traveled quite a bit. One night she invited Mike to dinner and pulled out a bottle of Optima Russian River Chardonnay.
Mike explained to her that, that was his winery and he made that wine. Well she knew she had to marry him so in 2001 Mike and Nicol and the four boys married at a winery in Healdsburg.
Composition: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: 100% Alexander Valley
Total Acid: 6.04 g/L
Residual Sugar: None
VA: 0.82 g/L
Total Phenols: 3100 ppm