Aurielle Vineyards, LLC. a producer of hand-crafted, ultra-premium wines from California, today announced that The Wine Enthusiast, in its February 2011 issue, has awarded the release of the latest hand-crafted limited production wine, the 2007 Aurielle Cabernet Sauvignon, with 90 points. The grapes that produced the 2007 Aurielle Cabernet Sauvignon come in equal proportions from two superb small vineyard sites in the Napa Valley mountain appellations of Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder. The vines were tended with quality as the overarching objective and thus underwent repeated cluster thinning and labor intensive canopy management. Yields were exceptionally small, averaging only 2 tons per acre. The release is available via select distribution to the world’s finest restaurants and wine retailers or direct from the winery to mailing list customers or at www.auriellevineyards.com. Only 303 cases were produced.
“…forward and lush in black cherry, blackberry, blueberry and milk chocolate flavors, with a rich veneer of caramelized oak.” Said Steve Heimoff who wrote the review for Wine Enthusiast, “It’s delicious now” He added
“I am thrilled that The Wine Enthusiast has once again awarded Aurielle with a 90 point score” said Frank Sterns, owner and founder of Aurielle Vineyards, “The 2007 Aurielle Cabernet is a unique wine of character and distinction that represents the best of Howell Mountain cabernet in an exceptional vintage and it will keep improving with age”, Sterns added.
Vintage and Winemaking notes:
A mild winter with below normal rainfall, coupled with a dry spring, led to early bud break. Although cluster counts were high, a sparse berry set in spring resulted in loose grape bunches and low yields. Additionally, berries were smaller than usual, creating a greater skin to juice ratio and enhancing quality. A mid season heat spike was short lived allowing for excellent sugar development without a corresponding decrease in acid. Conditions on both Howell Mountain and Mt Veeder were textbook perfect and the finished wines show bright fruit, excellent concentration, almost perfect acid balance and fine grained tannins that make the wines both accessible and age worthy.
Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder were both harvested at optimum flavor development and ripeness just in time to beat the early season rains that fell the 3rd week in October.
As harvest approached, both sugar and acid level tests were conducted twice daily. However, as was the case with the 2006 inaugural release, the final picking decision was decided strictly by flavor profile as determined by the educated palettes and collective experience of the winegrowers and Aurielle’s winemaker, Chad Alexander. Mount Veeder was harvested on October 6th and Howell Mountain was harvested 5 days later.
Harvest was conducted in the cool morning hours and the grapes were rushed to the winery for crushing and de-stemming. The must was then chilled to 55 degrees and the wine was left to cold soak for 1 week before a gradual rise in temperature enabled the natural yeast to begin fermentation. Twice daily punch-downs were conducted in small open –top fermentors. After fermentation was completed, the wine went through an exceptionally lengthy (3 weeks) extended maceration process to extract maximum color and tannins and create the silky mouthfeel that is a trademark of Aurielle’s age-worthy but approachable style.
A state of the art bladder press was used to extract the wine from the must and only free-run juices were kept. The wine was aged following a complex barrel-aging program designed to create complex flavor layers and aromas which perfectly showcase the superb quality of the Howell Mountain and Mt Veeder vineyards. French oak was used exclusively with 80 percent of barrels being new and 20 percent being used once. Four different premium coopers were represented and 20% of the barrels were specifically sourced from The Limousin forest in France to provide a top-note of vanilla and caramel tones on the long finish. The wine from both the Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder vineyard sites was aged in separate lots for 12 months during which time careful racking was conducted as necessary to clarify the wine. After 12 months, the lots were blended and extremely small amounts of Petit Verdot (1%), Merlot (.5%) and Cabernet Franc (1%) were added to increase complexity. After blending, the wine went trough an additional 6 months of barrel aging and racking as required, before being bottled un-fined and unfiltered after a total of 21 months in Oak. An additional 12 months of bottle aging commenced before release in September of 2010.
About Aurielle Vineyards
Aurielle– from the Latin root meaning golden and inspired by the qualities of the golden ratio or divine proportion, the mathematical principal that describes perfection and balance in the most classical sense. The golden ratio is represented in the spiral of a Nautilus seashell and by the most aesthetically pleasing compositions in music, art and architecture. It is where art and science merge to create masterpieces and it forms the essence of the no compromise winemaking philosophy behind Aurielle’s hand crafted, extremely limited production wines. Aurielle’s mission is to produce world-class wines of character and distinction by combining a solid understanding of the science of grape growing and winemaking with the art of a skillful winemaker unencumbered by constraints of production costs or quotas. With this mandate, Aurielle has forged long-term partnerships with winegrowers who have a passion for growing the world’s finest wine grapes and who choose not to deal with the demands of larger commercial producers. They work with Aurielle because they believe in our hand crafted, limited-production philosophy.
Frank K. Sterns