2016 Obsidian Ridge "Nicholas Block" Malbec
Aromas of cassis, blueberry jam and green peppercorns waft from the glass. A soft entry leads to bright fruit flavors of boysenberry and blueberry, along with pepper, chocolate and a touch of fresh eucalyptus. Supple and sensuous, the tannins are plush. A layer of spice, with floral and mineral notes, lingers on the finish.
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.
The grip of California’s four-year drought began to loosen in 2016 with a wet spring. Late season rains graced the beginning of the springtime growing season, replenishing the soil and giving the awakening vines critical nourishment. With less dehydration stress, the vines had a healthy canopy and well-balanced fruit load, with fuller grape clusters and slightly larger berries. Vine health and vigor in 2016 made for a smooth growing season and harvest, resulting in more voluptuous wines, approachable in their youth but rewarding patience.
The small parcel of Malbec grapes high on the crest of block F on Obsidian Ridge was hand-picked in early October. The grapes were carefully destemmed and placed whole berry into a small tank. After a warm fermentation, the wine was pressed off the skins, then racked to a handful of new Kádár barrels and aged for 18 months.
Alex Beloz, Winemaker