The 2016 Napa Valley Malbec shows vibrant dark blackberry, blueberry crème and lavender notes alongside hints of white and black pepper spice. The mouthfeel is smooth and plush with dark berry fruits, hints of floral violet, accompanied by savory notes of coriander, crushed dried bay leaf and clove. Finishing with darker notes of tar and plum, the depth and complexity of the wine blends together seamlessly on the palate supported by fine well-integrated tannins. This limited bottling drinks as powerfully rich as it smells, but the voluptuous fruit flavors remain incredibly fresh and balanced throughout, framed well by the core of fresh acidity.
The majority of the Malbec grapes for this bottling are sourced from D’Ambrosio Vineyards, from a block called Las Cerezas located just South East from the town of Yountville, which is well suited to growing this regional rarity. Las Cerezas, Spanish for “the cherries” was named after the neighboring Cherry Orchard. The climate here is moderate, with a definite cooler maritime influence compared to vineyards further up valley. Here the soils are mainly gravelly silt loams, sedimentary in origin and gravelly alluvial soils with rock, moderately fertile.
The extended drought was beginning to cause real concern as the 2016 growing season kicked off, but some welcomed winter rain hinted at the relief to come. After a relatively dry January we enjoyed significant rainfall in February, along with mild temperatures. Bud break was early, but was slowed by heavy April showers. While still early by historical standards, picking began about a week later than 2015, right around Labor Day, and continued at a leisurely pace, allowing the grapes to reach full flavor maturity. A traditionally sized harvest followed the lighter showing of 2015, and the extended mild season helped to balance the acids and add complexity to the layers of flavors. Considered a perfect harvest and a winemaker’s dream vintage, conditions were perfect for producing a Malbec with beautiful fruit as well as tremendous concentration of flavors, highly saturated color, and layers of complexity.
Winemaker Christophe Paubert practiced simple methods to show how this rare variety can excel in Napa Valley. The wine was fermented and aged in new French oak barrels (36%) and in stainless steel tanks for 16 months. The usage of stainless steel allowed the wine to broadcast and preserve the purity and freshness of the Malbec fruit.