Wine ~ This is not a wine for the faint of heart. Who said 1998 was a weak vintage? Open this wine when you have a very long evening to savor its magnificent journey along a sensual path of great beauty. The fiery and intense elements of S.L.V. are softened by the gentle roundness of FAY. Aromas of cassis, wild strawberry, raspberry and black cherry come alive. Trailing notes of wet leather, black and white pepper, vanilla and roasted almonds rest gently on a bed of dried violets. A red fruit entry transforms itself into silky plumminess. Power and finesse rest on a firm yet discreet structure of fruit and oak tannins. The sensation lingers, reverberating like the memory of a great piece of music. Serve with a richly sauced loin of venison accompanied by slow-cooked butternut squash, or wild mushrooms in a cabernet reduction over creamy polenta.
Vineyards ~ CASK 23 is a proprietary red wine blend made from grapes grown in S.L.V. and FAY, our two estate vineyards located in the Stags Leap District. Although adjoining, FAY and S.L.V. experience slightly different growing conditions and express distinct fruit expressions. S.L.V., of Paris Tasting fame, whose soils are predominately volcanic in nature, offers complex, multilayered Bordeaux-like fruit elements. Soils in FAY vineyard are more alluvial in makeup; this vineyard produces luminous perfumes and lush berry flavors. These two separate 'personalities' are likened to those of fire and water, in part because of the way in which the different fruit expressions appear to be derived from the origins of their soils. Our viticultural practices have increasingly turned to microfarming; whereas in the early years we broke these vineyards up into blocks according to obvious changes in soil and slope, we now keep very small lots separate according to how the fruit tastes. We now farm vine-to-vine throughout the growing and ripening season, from initial canopy structure, to leaf count and distribution, to cluster formation. While the 1998 vintage has been panned by some wine critics across the board, those who have looked at individual wineries and growers have found the 1998 CASK 23 a worthy successor to the CASK 23 wines preceding it. While we make CASK 23 only in select vintages, the particular conditions of the 1998 vintage, viticultural practices that focus the vine's resources to ripening its fruit, and the complementary nature of these two vineyards allowed us to succeed in producing an exceptionally elegant wine.