In 2015 a conversation was had about getting some Cabernet Sauvignon in the MTGA lineup. As many of you know we try not to cross the streams between the other family projects and what we make at MTGA. That said we were able to strike a deal to nab a bit of Cabernet from Anderson’s Conn Valley to try our hands at making Napa Cabernet Sauvignon in 2015. As is typical when doing business with family there was a bit of friction in figuring out how to make this all work out and not co-mingle our brands. With that in mind we ironed out the following details:
- The Cabernet Sauvignon would not be made in the same style as Anderson’s Conn Valley. It would lend itself to the style that we have been known for since our first vintage.
- As a part of that, entirely different fermentation and aging techniques would be utilized. Most of this meant changing up the fermentation vessel(s), doing punch downs instead of pump overs, picking an all new cooperage to utilize for barrels and so on.
- That we would pay our own way. As is tradition in our family business deals nothing is free so it was up to us to take care of the cost of production from beginning to end. That might seem weird but it keeps us honest (and humble).
So when we embarked on this journey we were literally flying by the seat of our pants. While I had worked on many Napa Cabernet Sauvignon lots before I had never taken the reigns. It was a bit nerve racking to not mess this one up since family could be looking over my shoulder at any time. It was a good challenge and definitely made me appreciate what goes in to making stellar Napa Cab from beginning to end.
Let’s dive into the geeky details!
The 2015 MTGA Cabernet Sauvignon is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon from Block #2 at Anderson’s Conn Valley and 5% Merlot from St. Helena. Luckily we usually have some decent Merlot in the cellar (insert sarcasm here) so we were able to soften up this Cabernet just enough while adding some complexity at the same time. This final blend utilized 95% new French oak from the Gamba cooperage (their G7 barrel for those in the know). The remaining 5% was once-used oak, one of Sylvain’s Grand Reserve barrels that was utilized for the inaugural Single Barrel release.
My favorite part though is that we bottled the vast majority of the 2015 MTGA Cabernet in magnums (1.5L bottles which are twice the size of your usual wine bottle). Why you might ask? Well let me tell you.
For starters I am a firm believer that Napa Cabernet Sauvignon only gets better with age. With the increased volume in a magnum you decrease the ratio of oxygen exposure to the wine which, in theory, keeps the wine more stable and increases its longevity. In short magnums are much better for aging wines that are age-worthy (in my humble opinion). Second is that we all have plenty of moments where we blow through a single bottle of wine way too fast. This is usually because we are out to dinner with friends, entertaining at home or at some other social gathering. The larger format ensures that when you are with a group of people there will be plenty to go around. In essence if you are having dinner with four people that means everyone will get a solid two glasses of this wine instead of one. This is a Cabernet that is meant to be shared. While you could drink the whole 1.5 liters by yourself I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead use it as an excuse to invite some friends over, or go out with them, to crack one of these bad boys open.
Stay tuned for the official release notice that will be coming out next week!