The NV9 Cain Cuvée is a blend not only of varieties but of vintages: the rich and round 1999 and the aromatic 1998. 1999 gave us some classically structured wines—an excellent backbone for the Cuvée—which harmonize beautifully with a few of the perfumed and silky wines that we had saved from the 1998 vintage to add more "lift" and complexity to the nose and finesse on the palate of the final blend. 1999 was a classical year—neither too late nor too early, yielding concentrated and well structured wines. In 1998, the fruit was comparatively late to ripen, and it ripened under cooler conditions, especially up in the mountains, resulting in more perfumed wines (cedar and berries), slightly less alcohol, and smoother, more elegant tannins.
To blend the NV9 Cain Cuvée, we drew on fruit from the Cain Vineyard, others on Spring Mountain, Diamond Mountain, and especially from the Oakville and Rutherford Benches and the Conn Creek area, along the Silverado Trail. Naturally, we handle the fruit and the wine gently and are judicious in our use of new oak. The wine was bottled in the spring of 2001 after slightly more than a year in the barrel, then aged for another year in the bottle. As we write this (February 2002) after thirteen vintages of Cain Cuvée, we have found that all of them have aged gracefully. Although we like to drink them young, all of the Cain Cuvées—even the oldest—are still drinking well.
Undoubtedly proving its merit over and over, Napa Valley is a now a leading force in the world of prestigious red wine regions. Though Cabernet Sauvignon dominates Napa Valley, other red varieties certainly thrive here. Important but often overlooked include Merlot and other Bordeaux varieties well-regarded on their own as well as for their blending capacities. Very old vine Zinfandel represents an important historical stronghold for the region and Pinot noir is produced in the cooler southern parts, close to the San Pablo Bay.
Perfectly situated running north to south, the valley acts as a corridor, pulling cool, moist air up from the San Pablo Bay in the evenings during the hot days of the growing season, which leads to even and slow grape ripening. Furthermore the valley claims over 100 soil variations including layers of volcanic, gravel, sand and silt—a combination excellent for world-class red wine production.