2016 Obsidian Ridge "The Chief" Cabernet Sauvignon
Aromas of cherry, plum and cranberry are highlighted by sage, lavender, mint and mocha—the profile of classic Cabernet Sauvignon blends. On the palate, the wine is medium weight, with the aromatics reflected in the flavors, plus nutmeg and fennel bulb. It is beautifully balanced with silky tannins on the finish.
Lake County legend tells of Chief Konocti, who forbid his daughter to marry her suitor. The Chief and the suitor battled to the death, providing the color of the Red Hills. The daughter’s tears filled Clear Lake, and the Chief’s body formed Mt. Konocti, the prominent volcano that dominates the view from Obsidian Ridge. We honor “The Chief.” We made just 12 barrels of this wine.
The grip of California’s four-year drought began to loosen in 2016 with a wet spring. Late season rains graced the beginning of the springtime growing season, replenishing the soil and giving the awakening vines critical nourishment. With less dehydration stress, the vines had a healthy canopy and well-balanced fruit load, with fuller grape clusters and slightly larger berries. Vine health and vigor in 2016 made for a smooth growing season and harvest, resulting in more voluptuous wines, approachable in their youth but rewarding patience.
“The Chief” is a throwback to the classic Bordeaux-style blend, using only Cabernet Sauvignon (80%), Malbec (15%) and Petit Verdot (5%) from select blocks and clones on Obsidian Ridge Vineyard. After picking in late September into early October, we carefully destemmed the fruit and fermented the grapes in small tanks, judiciously pumping over to avoid over-extraction. We placed the young wine in our Kádár barrels (75% new, 25% neutral) and aged it for 18 months. Then we painstakingly tasted and re-tasted each barrel, looking for the higher-toned acidity and faint herbaceous notes that are signatures of the slightly lighter, more elegant Bordelaise expression of Cabernet. We assembled a final blend of 12 barrels for our 2016 “The Chief,” bottled the wine unfined and unfiltered, and gave it a full year in bottle to fully harmonize. This is a wine that beckons to the lover of classic Bordeaux.
Alex Beloz, Winemaker