2009 Napa Valley "Mink Vineyard"
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About the Vineyard...
The Mink Vineyard is located next door to the winery, in an area known locally as Coombsville. Open to the same morning fogs and afternoon breezes that cool Carneros to the west, Coombsville is consistently one of the coolest pockets in Napa. Mink sits on a level bench just leeward of a knoll that slows down the prevailing maritime winds, allowing cooler air to settle, and making Mink’s mesoclimate a couple degrees cooler, even, than the surrounding hills. But the real secret to Mink’s explosive flavors, smooth, mouth-coating minerality, comes from the soil. Underneath the top few feet of alluvial clays and cobblestones (typical throughout the southern reaches of Napa), is a layer of compressed volcanic ash, called tufa. The tufa drains the top soils, storing moisture in rich clays underneath. The vines are able, with some work, to grow roots into the tufa layer, accessing moisture during the long, dry growing season. In a typical year, Mink can be practically dry-farmed.
About the Vintage...
The Mink Vineyard rebounded from the low yields of 2008 with a strong, healthy, and good-sized harvest in 2009. The season started off with a couple of weeks of late rains that threatened to harm the newly bloomed flowers and disrupt the fruit set. However, the vines in the Mink Vineyard were spared damage and the rains instead encouraged vigorous growth. The stronger than usual vine vigor combined with a larger than average fruit set produced a balance in these vines that allowed them to produce fruit with huge flavor and aroma, great acidity, and the usual finish of chalky, mineral tannins that is the signature of this vineyard.
About the Wine...
The grapes were destemmed into small, one-ton, open-top fermenters, where we employed a submerged cap device during the first half of fermentation. This helps to extract the rich flavors and deep color that we expect from this vineyard. We finished the fermentation with traditional hand punch downs, and aged the wine in Billon cooperage, a barrel that tends to sit subtly underneath the delicate fruit, lifting aromas without crowding them. The wines were racked once, gently, prior to bottling. Grapes, must, and wines were moved using gravity through to the barrel and using inert gas through racking and bottling. 246 cases produced.
Take the intense profundity of the 2007 Mink and combine it with the sheer elegance of the 2008 vintage from this vineyard, and you begin to understand the pleasing balance of the 2009. A powerful and generous nose opens with aromatics of blueberry, rich earth, and cassis interwoven with lilac and lavender, with notes of wild mushroom and cocoa. The palate is all dark fruits, brambly berries and black raspberry, spiced again with cocoa and cardamon. As usual, the acidity is bright and crisp, and the chalky fine tannins linger long and coat the palate with a distinctive minerality. With age, this wine will develop a broad, deep, and rich palate, balanced with bright and youthful fruit notes.