2019 “Suitcase Clones” Cabernet Sauvignon
Tiny Block H is a departure from the norm. The coldest spot on the Estate, it always ripens last, and in most years we have too little fruit, or (too little RIPE fruit) to even consider a single-block bottling. But when conditions are just right, as they were in 2019, we get a real stunner, delicate and beguiling. These old-world clones produce a wine that is fresh and lively, with bright acidity, exotic spice and juicy red fruit flavors, quite distinct from the dark, structured style of most of our cabs. Who knows when we’ll get another vintage like 2019, so stash a bunch of these in your suitcase, it may take a while.
VOLCANIC VINEYARD SITE
Obsidian Ridge Vineyard sits on a volcanic flow at the northern tip of the Mayacamas Range at a half mile of elevation. Vines planted in 1999 on red volcanic soils shot with black obsidian are subject to an unforgiving, mountain climate. Low humidity, cold night time temperatures, and ultraviolet exposure 10% greater than at sea level all contribute to developing small grapes with dark color, thick skins, and intense flavors.
THREE ELEVATION ZONES
The estate is planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon across three climatic zones ranging from 2,300 to 2,640 feet. The uppermost portion sits above the inversion layer on the steepest, rockiest slope, ten degrees warmer on average than the lowest elevation of the vineyard. As a result, vines above 2,500’ bud and ripen a month earlier and produce powerful, ripe flavors. Most of the vines here were obtained through commercial nurseries, but one unique block is the souvenir of an overseas trip, conveniently at a time when a desirable vineyard was being pruned. They fit nicely in a suitcase.
Obsidian wines are the only Cabernet Sauvignons in California (perhaps the world) aged in 100% Hungarian oak barrels. Our source forest in Tokaj is planted to the same oak species used in France, Quercus Petraea, however the trees grow more slowly due to the volcanic soils, resulting in 30% higher density of the wood. These super-tight-grain barrels are low in vanillan and relatively high in eugenol, which emphasize herbal and spice components, and are toasted slowly at low temperatures to avoid imparting overt toasty notes.
Alex Beloz, Winemaker