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B Side Napa Valley Red Blend 2011
The inaugural release of B Side Cabernet Sauvignon features grapes from vineyards on the flip-side of Napa Valley. These vineyards are nestled in rural areas or rolling hills, just a few miles from of the high-priced glamour wineries featured along Highway 29.
The eastern side of Napa Valley includes areas such as Pope Valley, Chiles Valley, Wooden Valley, Stags Leap District and lower Calistoga. Vines in these areas, are grown in thin, volcanic soils, which yield smaller, more concentrated fruit, producing Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignons with classic berry and cassis flavors.
Wooden Valley is a lesser-known area of Napa Valley, but has recently caught the attention of critics. Located east of the town of Napa, this small, round little valley is only about 2 miles wide, but has a history of grape growing since the early 20th century. While Calistoga is know for its pampering spas, before reaching this luxurious little town, there is a stretch of rural, rustic land. A large portion of our grapes, come from this lower area of Calistoga. These vineyards have been farmed by the same family for 60 years.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960's, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.
The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those is the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth reds with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to create complex wines with many different layers of flavors and aromas, or to create more balanced wines. For example, a variety that is soft and full-bodied may be combined with one that is lighter with naturally high acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.