2004 Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
What We Say
SPECIAL ALERT: Roth Estates and The Wine Spies are teaming up to fight breast cancer! For every bottle that you purchase today, Roth Estates will donate $1 and The Wine Spies will donate $1 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Thank you Roth Estates and thank you for your support!
TOP SECRET ALERT: Today we are featuring another incredible value. Again, we we bring you a big, classic Cabernet Sauvignon that drinks like a way more expensive wine.
Mission Codename: Agent White sees Red
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Send Agent White to Sonoma County to uncover a killer Cabernet
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Roth Winery
Wine Subject: 2004 Roth Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
Winemakers: Jennifer Higgins and David Ramey
As we told you yesterday, The Wine Spies have been featuring mostly red wines recently. And for good reason, the Reds we have been spying have been superb!. This red-heaviness has caused Agent White to become somewhat irritable. Central Command has issued orders to spy some extraordinary white wines during forthcoming missions but today Agent White was directed to Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley – to the Roth Winery, to taste their out of this world Cabernet Sauvignon. Will he admit that red wines can be incredible, too? Read the following mission report.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep, rich red with crystalline edges, and long, skinny legs
Smell – A wonder-filled KAPOW! of fruity vanilla, anise, mellow spice and cherry. Don’t get me wrong here, the aromas don’t klobber you as much as they grab you and get your attention. I feel somehow rejuvenated when I sniff deeply of this wine
Feel – Dry up front, initially wet on the mid-tongue then giving way to a really pleasant around-the-mouth tannins
Taste – Dark cherry, blackberry, plum and subtle licorice with a light oakiness
Finish – Tart-sweet initially, tapering to tart with a tannic dryness that reminds you to take another sip.
Conclusion – Okay, I concede the fact that Red wines can be great. When I taste a wine like this incredible Roth Cab Sauv, I am reminded to keep an open mind about wine. This Roth is a superb Cabernet Sauvignon that, in my opinion rivals more expensive Cabs from the Cab capital of the world, neighboring Napa Valley. Unlike Napa cabs, which can sometimes be overbearing and pretentious, this is a wine that can inspire serious dialog, but is also fun and easy to drink. I attribute this to the care with which Roth makes their wine and to the wonderful Alexander Valley climate.
For an added experience with this wine, I recommend that you taste right on opening and again after a few hours of decanting. Decide for yourself if this improves the wine or just makes it different. I have my own opinion, but want to see yours. Be sure to come back and place your review after you enjoy this superior Cabernet Sauvignon.
It’s great to be back in the field! Agent Red is mad at me for scoring this particular mission, but I deserved it. Lately, he and Agent Zin have been getting the choicest missions while I am left at Command, providing ‘support’ to our agents in the field. Today, I found myself at Roth Estate, in the picturesque Alexander Valley in Sonoma County, California.
I have heard Agent Red speak fondly about this sub-appellation and now I can see why. The hills here remind me of Tuscany and the vineyards stretch out along the rolling hills for miles in every direction. The vineyard sources for Roth Cabernet Sauvignon are located in the eastern hills of southern Alexander Valley, at the confluence of the Chalk Hill and Knights Valley appellations. This southern “sub-appellation” is a top location Cabernet Sauvignon. Most sought after are the region’s hillsides and mountain locations, where diverse, nutrient-deficient soil types and microclimates are ideal for developing wines of concentrated character.
My day with the great Roth Estate folks began with vineyard tour where I observed that the vines were under constant attention by the vineyard managers and the winemakers. This is the time of year when grapes are being checked for harvest-readiness almost continuously. These frequent checks are an exciting and necessary part of making wine and grapes are picked when they are at their peak, even if this means picking the fruit at midnight or in the rain as can sometimes be necessary.
The winemakers explained to me that their wines are handcrafted, to bring out the purest expression of the Alexander Valley sub-appellation. Their tender handling of the grapes throughout their life cycle allows for peak quality at the time of harvest, when each block of grapes is picked at the best moment. Key to the quality of their wines is the cold soak that the grapes undergo after harvest. Grapes are soaked in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks for several days prior to fermentation. This traditional process gently extracts deep color, rich flavor and phenolics from the skins.
Fermentation occurs naturally, relying on native yeasts. These indigenous yeast strains enhance the wine’s expression, character and flavor. Extended maceration (during which skins, seeds, and pulp are mixed and ground with the fermenting juice to extract color, aroma and tannins from the grapes) following fermentation encourages better extraction of flavors and structural development. Once this process is complete, the finished wines are separated by attribute and varietal, then staged for blending and barrel aging.
The wines are aged in French oak barrels for 16-18 months. Following aging, and prior to bottling, the wines are gently clarified, yet remain unfiltered, which I really like in a red wine. Make no mistake, this does not make the wine gritty. It just give it a more, somehow, authentic quality.
My tour wrapped up with a tasting in a private room at the Roth Estate. I was able to sample the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon from a freshly opened bottle as well as from a decanter that was filled nearly six hours earlier. Both examples were brilliant, but the differences were remarkable. The newly opened wine had a more fruity character, while the decanted wine seemed to become more mature and even have a somewhat ‘ancient’ feel to it, like the finest wines that Italian royalty may have enjoyed several centuries ago.
I know that I am supposed to be all about the White Wines, but I have to admit, this is a great red wine fellow spies! I’m hooked. Be sure to stock up. This is a ready to drink masterpiece that you could also cellar for a few years.
Winemaker Jennifer Higgins
Jennifer began making Roth wines in 2000, attracted to producing a “sub-regional expression” of Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley. Jennifer is a graduate of UC Davis, with a degree in biochemistry. She credits her winemaking philosophy and style to the influence of her mentors—such notable winemakers as Jill Davis, Margaret Davenport, and David Ramey.
Jennifer and her production team are aided by renowned winemaker David Ramey. Most notably, Mr. Ramey has assisted some of the world’s finest wine producers, such as Chateau Petrus in Bordeaux, and Dominus and Rudd in Napa Valley. In addition to consulting with Lancaster Estate and other fine wine producers, he has his own winery in Healdsburg.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The climate of Alexander Valley is tempered by a subtle marine influence from the nearby Pacific Ocean, in the form of fog that moves into the valley through the Petaluma Gap. This combination of coastal and inland influences creates a magical contrast between warm days and cool nights—in other words, the high diurnal temperature differences that define the world’s finest winegrowing regions. In 1984, the 31,000-acre region was designated an American Viticultural Area (AVA), and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Alexander Valley have become well known for rich, dark berry flavors and supple tannins.
The approximate center of the Alexander Valley AVA can be seen in this satellite photo
Wine Spies Technical Wine Analysis
Appellation: Alexander Valley AVA
Varietal Blend: 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc
Alcohol, by volume: 14.5%
What the Winery Says
Awards and Accolades
San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
Double Gold, Best of Class
Roth Cabernet Sauvignon is an expression of its origins. The 2004 vintage delivers aromas of vanilla, clove and anise, with flavors of rich black cherry, plum and licorice. This fruit-forward wine displays mouth-watering complexity, firm tannins and a rich, elegant finish. After 19 months of aging in French oak barrels (30% new), we bottled this wine unfiltered for purity of expression. 4,900 cases produced.
Roth is a family owned producer, dedicated to crafting Cabernet Sauvignon that is reflective of its origins.
In 2000, the first vintage was made from select vineyard sites within the southern most tip of the Alexander Valley AVA. This “sub-appellation’s” abundant hillsides, diverse elevations, aspects and slopes provide a wide range of micro-climates from which Cabernet Sauvignons of intensity and concentrated varietal character are produced.
Each vineyard location within this sub-appellation is uniquely blessed with warm days and cool nights, and a longer growing season than other Cabernet-driven appellations. As a result, Roth wines express their rich, ripe flavors with vibrancy and balance.
Warm temperatures in March led to an early awakening in our vineyards. Cool, foggy July mornings and warm fall weather produced grapes of intense, well balanced flavors. The 2004 Roth delivers on the promise of a great vintage.
Composition & Analysis
75% Cabernet Sauvignon
5% Cabernet Franc
Alcohol, by volume 14.5%