2014 Obsidian Ridge "Half Mile" 1.5L Magnum
The 2014 Half Mile is a classic rendition of our signature Cabernet Sauvignon-based red blend, bottled in large format to complement the aging it deserves. It starts with aromas of cedar and nutmeg over a core of plums and blackberry jam. The wine is dark on the palate, with licorice and dark chocolate flavors and hints of vanilla extract. The Petit Verdot portion of the blend adds the floral aroma of violets and a significant dose of tannin and firm acidity to balance out the sweet fruit flavors. As always with Half Mile, this wine requires some decanting to show its full potential. Owing to both wine style and large-format bottling, it will also rest well in a cellar for many years to come, perhaps a decade or more.
Obsidian Ridge Vineyard is planted at 2,640' atop the Mayacamas range north of the Napa Valley. This is one of the newest American Viticultural Areas, named Red Hills Lake County for the distinctive volcanic soils that define this remarkable mountain appellation. The vineyard’s red soils are shot through with obsidian rock—this steep, sloping terroir of obsidian gravel is all that a winemaker could hope for. The unrestricted drainage and meager soil fertility produce wines with great tannic structure.
Drought led conversations all over the farmlands and vineyards of California in early 2014. However, strong, compact rains in February and March helped secure a solid growing season for the vines through spring and early summer. The size of our crop was minimally affected, but it was slightly lower than the previous two years. During harvest, there were no extreme heat waves, which helped moderate ripening. The tricky issue was that, with the record-breaking drought, the vines ripened fruit earlier than ever before. Most of our varietals were ripening at the same time in early September, and it felt odd to be picking Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon concurrently with our Poseidon Vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Timing aside, the modest temperatures of late summer and fall afforded us the luxury of picking at optimum ripeness.
Following on the success of our first vintage making “Half Mile,” we have applied the same principles and given the wine all new barrels crafted by our Kádár cooperage with wood sourced from the Tokaji forest in Hungary. These are slow-extraction barrels, and the benefit of time is apparent only toward the end of the wine’s residence in them. By blending a significant amount of Petit Verdot into the Cabernet Sauvignon, far more than the typical 2-5%, we have learned how the monolithic nature of Petit Verdot will be perforated, cracked open, and its more poetic soul exposed if we push it and trust in its evolution. While the fruit ripens and lingers on the vine, the acidity of Petit Verdot is tenacious, and the resulting structure in the fermenter is an essential contributor to the persistence and focus of our Half Mile signature Cabernet-based blend.
Alex Beloz, Winemaker