Aperture Alexander Valley Red Blend 2016
The year 2016 was a good one for grapes in the northern part of Sonoma County. Our cooler vineyard sites had the unique advantage of a long and moderate growing season. With this mellow, even weather, our fruit ripened gently. The result: deep flavors with complex, integrated tannins, and lively characteristics that make this vintage one of our best.
Our vineyard blocks that compose the Red Blend are all clay soil type. This clay helps some of the early ripening varietals lengthen their growing season so the grapes achieve full phenolic ripeness while also keeping a freshness in the fruit characteristics.
Blend: 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 11% Malbec, 7% Cabernet Franc
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2016 Red Blend is made up of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 11% Malbec and 7% Cabernet Franc, aged 18 months in 50% new oak. It has a medium to deep ruby-purple color and opens with aromas of cassis, red and black plum, chargrill, leather and beef drippings with accents of fried herbs, bitter chocolate, cedar, violet and a classy framing of new oak spice. Medium to full-bodied, dense and rich, the palate offers youthfully coiled layers of spicy, mineral-tinged fruits. It has a frame of ripe, well-woven tannins with seamless freshness and a long, silky finish. 1,200 cases produced.
Never mind the six million album covers around the world that feature Andy Katz’s photographs, or his dozen books of gorgeous photos that grace countless coffee tables around the country, or the many awards on his mantel earned from five decades of work around the world. It was all an excuse. An excuse to drink world class wine. To learn what it takes to make world class wine. And to spend time with his young son Jesse. Andy brought Jesse to the the most famous vineyards on earth, from the heart of Burgundy to the hills of Tuscany. He may not have admitted it at the time, but Andy’s gambit worked. Barely a decade later, Jesse is now one of the most exciting — and accomplished — winemakers in the world, recently gracing the cover of Wine Enthusiast as a rising young star who is doing nothing less than “changing the way the world drinks.” The son of a man who, through his photographs, changes the way the world sees wine. It’s a perfect combination. Jesse supplies the grapes, Andy supplies the images. And together they make wines worthy of their travels. Aperture. World class wines. Katz and Katz. A world class pairing.
Nearly a northern extension of Napa Valley, Alexander Valley starts just north of the small, Knights Valley, and is just a few minutes drive from the Napa town of Calistoga. It is Sonoma County’s hottest AVA. But the Russian River, which runs through the valley, creates cooler pockets and its soft, alluvial soil is ideal for grape growing, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, some believe that Alexander Valley Cabernets truly rival the best from Napa Valley and many of the heavy-hitter producers have largely invested here.
In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up over 50% of plantings, Merlot and old vine Zinfandel thrive here. Ample, fleshy Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate white wine production. Some old-vine plantings of Grenache have also been discovered and more recent experiments with Sangiovese and Barbera show great promise.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
Tasting Notes for Bordeaux Blends
Bordeaux Blends are dry, red wines and generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, black cherry plum, graphite, cedar and violet. Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines, modeled after the Right Bank, are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure.
Perfect Food Pairings for Bordeaux Blends
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
Sommelier Secrets for Bordeaux Blends
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.