"The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon The Ranch is a beautiful introduction to the vintage. Tobacco, new leather, spices and plums all meld together in an impeccable, gracious wine loaded with class and personality. Floral notes wrap around the finish. The style is super classic in its medium-bodied structure, but the 2011 is nevertheless impressive for its poise and overall balance."Antonio Galloni
"The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon The Ranch (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot) is a lighter styled effort with soft berry fruit, tobacco leaf, spice box and earth notes. It should drink nicely for 7-8 years."Robert Parker : 2011 Snowden "The Ranch" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
From Diana Snowden Seysses- 2011
The 2011 vintage presented us with tough choices at many points, from green harvest to fermentation all the way through blending. The finished wines show no trace of the worry they caused us. They are exciting, nuanced and precise with fine tannins and bright fruit.
From beginning to end the 2011 growing season was cool and wet. As a result, flowering was late and set was poor making for light, loose clusters. While it was clear yields would be low, especially in the Cabernet, we still dropped crop at the end of a drawn out veraison at our viticultural consultant Daniel Roberts' insistence. Daniel was worried about ripening. How right he was.
When October came along with its rainstorms the sugars were low by Californian standards, but perfectly acceptable, botrytis pressure was high and more rain was forecasted. It was time to pick.
We began with the Petit Verdot October 14th, followed by the Merlot October 17th. The Cabernet Franc and the Cabernet Sauvignon from our Ricos and Pool vineyards, what would become our Reserve blend, came in on October 20th and our Lost Orchard, the backbone of our Ranch blend, was picked on the 23rd of October.
The fruit, after sorting, was clean and had ripe flavors. Potential alcohols ranged from 13.5- 14.3.
They vineyard team was off the hot seat and now I faced the hard choices. After much consideration; gathering advice from David Ramey, a phone call to my maître de stage in Bordeaux, observing colleagues in the rest of the valley and reflecting on wisdom from Jacques Seysses, it was his words which stuck with me.
Jacques has often said that in less ripe vintages if you push too hard you extract green, under-ripe tannins. If you bleed or reverse-osmose a tank with those tannins in order to make a more concentrated wine, you concentrate under-ripe tannins.
I knew what I wanted to do and what I did not want to do. I sought the approval of my family, to make sure they supported me as commercial consequences would impact us all.
I chose not to chaptalize. I chose not to reverse-osmose. I chose not to add yeast, tannins or extractive enzymes. I chose not to overwork or overheat the must. I chose not to fight the vintage.
As always, I waited for a natural fermentation to begin. At the onset of fermentation I began pumping over twice a day, taking care not to let my tanks get too hot, until the sugar was fermented. I let what was ripe and easily extracted come out and I didn't push any farther. The tanks had about one week post-fermentation maceration then I pressed and went to barrel. The wines spent 18 months in French Oak, 50% new, 50% used until bottled, unfiltered, May 17th 2013.
My mission is and always has been the same; honor the grapes, the site and climate they come from. These 2011 wines are visibly and stylistically different than years past; they are the lightest in color and lowest in alcohol since '98. What the 2011s offer goes beyond stuffing, they are vibrant, pure and balanced.
The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon The Ranch (blended with 22% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot, 667 cases made) has bright aromas of sour cherry, licorice, pepper, lavender and cocoa powder. It follows on the palate with crunchy red fruits and chalky tannins.