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Neyers Ame Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
The Ame bottling of Cabernet comes from a plot that we call the Knoll Vineyard. Dave Abreu's farming company planted it in 1998. At over 1,200 feet in elevation, it's the highest parcel on the ranch. It's also the rockiest; it took two years to clear out enough rocks for us to move in with the necessary farming equipment. We used budwood from the Thorevilos Vineyard, a property in Napa Valley managed by Dave. The budwood is believed to have originated at Ch. Margaux in Bordeaux. As the vines reach 15 years of age, they are entering the ‘sweet period' of their lives -- a period thought by many to be the time when the fruit produces its best wine. The rows are planted east to west, so they follow the arc of the sun during the day. This helps the small, dark colored clusters ripen evenly. As we picked during the 2011 harvest, the aroma of the fruit was overpowering. So it is in the finished wine.
In 1999, Bruce and Barbara Neyers purchased and renovated a winery on a thirty-acre parcel in the Sage Canyon area of Napa Valley. Over the next 14 months they built a modern, highly functional winery designed for traditional winemaking practices. They produced their first vintage in this state of the art facility in 2000. In 2002, Wine and Spirits Magazine named Neyers Vineyards the Artisan Winery of the Year.
About 25% of our production is Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grown on Bruce and Barbara’s 50-acre, Conn Valley ranch. They purchase additional grapes from a select group of growers, among them the Sangiacomo family of the Carneros District, Will Nord of Napa, the Rossi Ranch of Sonoma County, Markus Bokisch and the Evangelho family.
Even though Neyers Vineyards sits in the heart of the Napa Valley, Bruce's experience with French wine importer Kermit Lynch has had an undeniable influence on their wines. Many of the French producers Bruce has worked with farm organically, make their wines naturally without use of cultured yeast or laboratory designed malo-lactic starter, and bottle their wines without fining or filtration. Neyers barrels are made in France, to our specifications, from wood that we buy in bulk and air dry for three years, two years longer than normal. All of the grapes are picked by hand, into small bins that hold only one-half ton. They are then laboriously hand sorted and inspected at the winery as winemaker Tadeo Borchardt gently guides the winemaking process along. As Bruce says, “No expense has been spared in our grape growing, winemaking practices, or processing equipment, yet customers repeatedly tell us that our wines represent great value in today's highly competitive wine market.” Bruce Neyers produces his own content for the company blog, “Vintner Tales.”
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 1960s, 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 1980s, 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 are 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.
A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon is now the world's most planted grape variety. Inherently high in tannins and acidity, the best bottlings of Cabernet can age beautifully, with the ability to last fifty years or more. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in temperate climates like Bordeaux's Medoc region and forms the base of the Medoc reds, which are typically mostly Cabernet with Merlot and smaller amounts of some combination of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. (Enjoying a great deal of success in various regions around the world, this blend is now globally referred to as a Bordeaux Blend.) 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 is typically blended to soften tannins and add complexity. In warmer regions like California Washington, Argentina, Chile 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 profiling revealed the grape to be a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which took place in 17th century southwestern France.