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Relic Wine Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Relic was founded in Napa Valley in 2001 by husband and wife team Michael Hirby and Schatzi
Throckmorton, with a focus on historic winemaking techniques. Inspired by a love of Burgundy, they began making a small amount of Pinot Noir, and have since continued to mine history for old secrets in the making of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast as well as Rhone and Bordeaux varietals from the Napa Valley, where their hillside cave winery is located.
When highly natural, traditional methods such as indigenous yeast fermentation, whole-cluster
fermentation, extended lees ageing, minimal-intervention, etc. - are applied to California’s great terroirs, the resulting wines are world-class, complex, layered, and vibrantly aromatic. The diverse vineyard sources are tended with the utmost care, and are always grown to Relic’s specifications of yield, light exposure, irrigation, etc.
After gaining a degree in Philosophy from Colorado College, Michael worked for 2 years as a
sommelier. Before moving to Napa Valley., he spent an extended period tasting with winemakers in France, where he learned that some contemporary winemaking rules are meant to be broken, and his traditional approach became entrenched. Michael is currently the consulting winemaker for D.R. Stephens Estate, Husic Family Vineyards, Sarocka Estate, Wolf Family Vineyards, Flint Knoll, and MAZE, and was the consulting winemaker at Realm Cellars for 8 years.
Schatzi gained a degree in History from Northwestern before moving to Napa Valley in 1999 to work harvest. Her skills were soon recognized, and she has been busy ever since. Schatzi is the Business Manager for Behrens Family Winery, where she has been for 17 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 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.