While our 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon continues to rack up high ratings in wine journals such as Wine Enthusiast (93 Points & Editor’s Choice) and The Tasting Panel (93 Points), our winemaking team is hard at work bringing the 2019 vintage to fruition.
With the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon set to be bottled later this spring, we caught up with Winemaker Stewart Cameron to discover what went into making this flagship wine from multiple blocks at our estate Margarita Vineyard.
While this is a varietal wine, it comes from multiple vineyard blocks—which means that it is also a blend. When did the blending process begin?
We started doing official blending trials in January. But one thing to keep in mind is that we are always tasting these different lots throughout the prior year, making mental notes about qualities that stand out or are otherwise noteworthy. By the time we start doing trials, we already know these lots pretty well, which gives us a good foundation and starting point.
Which lots made it into the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon?
The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is composed of two base lots. One lot comes from Block 48B at Margarita Vineyard. The other lot is a combination of blocks 11, 13 and 15 from the Oyster Ridge area of the vineyard. These blocks were combined into a single lot about a month after fermentation. In that sense, the blending process actually began a year and a half ago. The young wines from these three blocks showed a lot in common, and it made sense to bring them together early for enhanced integration.
So how did you go about targeting those lots?
We had a sense fairly early on that these were our two strongest lots for this Cabernet Sauvignon. That came from assessing their color, and being satisfied with their level of aromatics, structure and mouthfeel. They also complement each other really well. The Oyster Ridge lot brought a lot of dark, intense character with great analytical numbers for acidity and structure. The other lot accentuated that with a really fruit-forward character.
So what is the final result?
After multiple trials, we landed on a blend that is 57% from the Oyster Ridge lot, and 43% from the 49B lot, at least in terms of the overall Cabernet portion. We also incorporated small lots of Merlot and Petite Sirah from Margarita Vineyard. The Merlot helps round off some of the slightly rougher edges in the mid-palate, and the Petite adds a touch of robust structure and depth to the finish.
We landed on this combination fairly quickly. It really jumped out at us as the perfect blend from among the many options. But I’m making it sound easier than it is in practice. To get an accurate representation of each lot for our bench trials, we took samples from about 40 barrels in each lot. It’s no small task building a wine like this, and the seeds are planted pretty early.
Thanks, Stewart! Keep an eye out for the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon this summer. In the meantime, enjoy the 2018 vintage as a critically acclaimed taste of the type of winemaking intentionality described in this interview!