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Emblem by Michael Mondavi Oso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
The Oso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is harvested from our family's Oso Vineyard. Planted on slopes rising up from Schwartz Creek, it is nestled between Sugarloaf and Howell Mountains in Napa Valley, where the historic Oat Hill Mine Road begins its ascent over the mountain toward Calistoga. There, the vines grow on beautiful, stone-lined terraces, out of a rocky, porous soil. The high drainage stresses the vines, leading to high flavor concentration. The fruit remains fresh and vibrant throughout the growing season due to mild temperatures –warmer evenings and cooler days than on the valley floor –and afternoon breezes that blow straight down the vineyard rows. From the soil and elevation this mountain fruit extracts intense varietal characteristics, a firm structure, and excellent aging potential.
The Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon is harvested from a single Rutherford vineyard east of the Napa River extending to Conn Creek, in the alluvial fan of the VacaRange, a place where our family has 25 years of winegrowing experience. The valley floor’s warm climate and deep, well-drained soils produce vigorous vines that receive more sun exposure than in other parts of the Napa Valley. To moderate and distribute the sun’s heat, the vines are planted in east-west facing rows, and a single-sided ballerina trellising system shades the fruit from intense morning sun. Rutherford historically produces classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon fruit of excellent quality.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes referred to as the “king” of red grapes. It can be somewhat unapproachable early in its youth but has the potential to age beautifully, with the ability to last fifty years or more at its best. Small berries and tough skins provide its trademark firm tannic grip, while high acidity helps to keep the wine fresh for decades. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in temperate climates like Bordeaux's Medoc region (and in St-Emillion and Pomerol, where it plays a supporting role to Merlot). The top Médoc producers use Cabernet Sauvignon for their wine’s backbone, blending it with Merlot and smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot. On its own, Cabernet Sauvignon has enjoyed great success throughout the world, particularly in the Napa Valley, and is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and sought-after “cult” wines.
In the Glass
High in color, tannin, and extract, Cabernet Sauvignon expresses notes of blackberry, cassis, plum, currant, spice, and tobacco. In Bordeaux and elsewhere in the Old World you'll find the more earthy, tannic side of Cabernet, where it's typically blended to soften tannins and add complexity. In warmer regions like California and Australia, you can typically expect more ripe fruit flavors upfront.
Cabernet Sauvignon is right at home with rich, intense meat dishes—beef, lamb, and venison, in particular—where its opulent fruit and decisive tannins make an equal match to the dense protein of the meat. With a mature Cabernet, opt for tender, slow-cooked meat dishes.
Despite the modern importance and ubiquity of Cabernet Sauvignon, it is actually a relatively young variety. In 1997, DNA revealed the grape to be a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which took place in 17th century southwestern France.