Hewitt Vineyard2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
(Rutherford ~ Napa Valley)
This wine, from the Hewitt Vineyard, is the reason why winemaker Tom Rinaldi left Duckhorn a half-dozen years ago. When he was handed the Provenance winery project – which has since changed corporate hands – he also inherited this great vineyard, which is situated west of the home property on the Rutherford bench. The fruit for Rinaldi’s high-end offering comes from the oldest plantings – 14 years old – on the 60-acre Hewitt site.
What we get is perhaps Rinaldi’s best wine since he departed Duckhorn in 2000. The aromas coming from the glass are of sweet, perfumed blackberries, while on the palate there’s power and finesse all at once. The same-said fruit is luscious and the wine will age well into the first quarter of the 21st century. But hold on to it for a couple of years because the tannins need to settle in.
The wine was barrel aged for 1½ years in 90 percent French wood and most unusual – Rinaldi chose to add some olive notes by using a smidgen (10 percent) of Hungarian barrels. Sixty percent of the barrel regimen was new. One other note about the winemaking process – Rinaldi opted to harvest from the middle of September through the beginning of October, despite many of his colleagues in Rutherford holding off until well into October, which turned out to be one of the best times for harvest in recent Napa Valley memory. Nonetheless, Rinaldi’s early choice didn’t manifest in any evident greenness in the bottle. The listed alcohol is 14.9 percent. 3,800 cases made.
Reviewed July 23, 2006 by Alan Goldfarb.
Alan Goldfarb has been writing about and reviewing wine for 17 years. His reviews have been published in the St. Helena Star, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Examiner, Decanter, and Wine Enthusiast, among others. Not once has he used a point system, star system, or an iconic symbol to quantify a wine. What counts in Mr. Goldfarb’s criteria when judging a wine is: how it tastes in the glass; is it well-constructed; its food compatibility; and presence of redeeming regional attributes.