This medium bodied wine strikes a balance between a “yin” of rich suppleness and a “yang” of lively acidity. It opens with aromas of fresh cherry pie, licorice and hickory smoked bacon followed by flavors of cranberry jam, black currants, and finishing touches of black peppercorn, cola, sandalwood and sweet toasted oak. Soft tannins, silky texture and a plush mouthfeel round out the experience. Age for three years.
Acknowledging cabernet sauvignon as the most famous of the five grapes used to make red wine in Bordeaux, “siblings” merlot, malbec, cabernet franc and petit verdot have the stuffing and structure to stand on their own as varietal wines when properly cultivated and fermented. Petit verdot bears a slight resemblance to its “big brother”, cabernet sauvignon, but the contrasts in aroma and flavor are what make it interesting for a winemaker to bottle and enjoy.
The Paso Robles AVA lies 25 miles inland from the coast with mild conditions in winter, spring and fall. Summers are mostly hot and dry, but a break in the coastal range allows a marine layer to move inland in the late afternoon, lowering temperatures and providing the cool evenings and nights that promote well-balanced grape acidity.
Clautiere Vineyard is situated at 800 feet of elevation on Paso Robles’ Eastern plateau where the sandy-loam soils and warm dry climate are conducive to varieties such as petit verdot. The challenging growing conditions enable vines to channel their energy into the development of small berries that produce aromatic wines with intense flavors, silky textures and rounded tannins.
A third consecutive drought year, 2009 began with slightly below average temperatures and 50% of seasonal rainfall occurring in March. April, May and early June showed foggy mornings and below average temperatures, but a heat spike in mid-June launched a repeating cycle of two scorching weeks followed by 7–10 cool days through most of July, August and September. Seasonable cool mornings and warm days returned in late September, but the remnants of a Japanese typhoon dropped 3–4 inches of rain in some areas. We harvested most of our fruit during the clear three-week period following the storm, and were quite pleased with the small berries and skin colors that translated to dark, rich wines.