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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 and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes referred to as the “king” of red grapes. It can be somewhat unapproachable early in its youth but has the potential to age beautifully, with the ability to last fifty years or more at its best. Small berries and tough skins provide its trademark firm tannic grip, while high acidity helps to keep the wine fresh for decades. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in temperate climates like Bordeaux's Medoc region (and in St-Emillion and Pomerol, where it plays a supporting role to Merlot). The top Médoc producers use Cabernet Sauvignon for their wine’s backbone, blending it with Merlot and smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot. On its own, 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's typically blended to soften tannins and add complexity. In warmer regions like California 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 revealed the grape to be a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which took place in 17th century southwestern France.