Bordeaux Visit Inspires Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon of Greyscale Wines

Jean and Larry Rowe established Greyscale Wines in 2008. Our goal is to produce premium wines using Napa Valley grapes that reflect the vineyard terroir and complement any occasion whether it is sipping wine sitting by a pool in summer or a fire in winter or when paired with fine food and friends. Greyscale Wines was formed after an eventful wine tour in Bordeaux. We always loved Cabernet Sauvignon, and we tasted and purchased Bordeaux wines for many years. But this trip introduced us to Bordeaux Blancs, which are barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc often blended with Semillon. On the plane flight home, we decided to make Bordeaux-style wines using Napa Valley fruit.

The Greyscale Wines name came from an observation Jean made that, "Wine is neither black nor white. It's always shades of grey." This phrase captures our philosophy of winemaking. It is not a scientific formula. Each year you adjust to weather, fruit quality, winemaking opportunities, and blending components to produce the very best wine possible. Our consulting winemaker is Kian Tavakoli. He has a degree in enology from U.C. Davis and experience working at Opus One and Clos Du Val. His French heritage fostered a love for Bordeaux style wines that is a perfect complement to our philosophy.

We do not own vineyards. Rather, we source fruit from the very best vineyards and growers in Napa Valley. From 2008 through 2010, we produced a Napa Valley Cabernet using fruit from Coombsville just east of the City of Napa and Oak Knoll just north of Napa. In 2012, we moved to an exceptional vineyard in Rutherford that is widely viewed as one of the best appellations in the valley.

The Rutherford AVA is the widest part of Napa Valley and home to many famous wineries including Beaulieu Vineyards, Inglenook, Caymus, Staglin, and Scarecrow. The soil, formed from three alluvial fans, is composed of loam and sand with pockets of marine sediments and volcanic deposits. The soil drains well which causes roots to grow deep to find water - sometimes as deep as 50 feet. The minerals in the soil coupled with warmer temperatures leads to full-bodied wines with complex aromas and fruit with tastes including blackberries, blackcurrants, wild cherries, and red raspberries. Many cult Napa Valley Cabernets are fruit-forward, intense, masculine wines. Rutherford Cabernets in contrast combine red and black fruit into a luscious almost feminine wine.

Production Notes

The grapes for the 2012 Greyscale Wines Rutherford Cabernet came from 20-year old vines. This vineyard is known for producing wines with elegant and silky fruit. The vines produce tight clusters with large, plump berries. The clusters are destemmed and the berries are put in a small stainless steel fermentation vessel where they are allowed to rest for several days (maceration). Fermentation is started by inoculating with the BDX yeast developed in France that minimizes the heat generated during fermentation and retains the color of the wine and enhances flavors and aromas. After fermentation, the juice is pressed to remove berry skins and seeds and put into French barrels for 21 months. We used 60% new Vicard barrels and 40% once-used Sylvain barrels for the 2012 vintage. Together these barrels impart oak flavored tannins combined with fruit tannins (skin and seeds) to produce a wine with a complex finish that goes on and on. The wine was racked four times during the aging process to introduce oxygen and remove the dead yeast cells and particulate material.

We blend other Bordeaux varieties (e.g., Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot) into the base Cabernet to produce complex flavors from the moment you sip the wine until you swallow. The flavors persist in your mouth for a long finish. Our typical blend is 90% Cabernet with 5-7% Merlot to bridge the mid-palate, Malbec and Cabernet Franc to add fruit intensity, and Petit Verdot to add spice at the end. The 2012 Cabernet expressed full and balanced flavors through the mid-palate so Merlot was not added. We added 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot to enhance the finish.

The 2012 Greyscale Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon has received Gold Medals at the annual Critic's Challenge and the San Francisco International Wine Competition. It also ranked first in a blind tasting of 2012 Napa Cabernets at a local wine store.

Jean and I believe this wine represents our vision for a balanced, elegant wine. We produced a limited amount, so purchase it now to enjoy during this coming Holiday Season and in years to come.

Find Greyscale Wines 2012 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon on Cellar Angels between Oct 26 - Nov 22, 2015. Proceeds from every purchase will go to the cause you want to support.   

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