I have thoroughly enjoyed working with this variety and exploring its signature at my family’s vineyard since the 1997 vintage. I began working with this variety elsewhere since 1979 and am impressed with its sturdiness on the vine as well as in the bottle. It is one of those varieties that tolerates some rain and probably embraces it to a great degree. Some of my favorite long term vintages have seen a bit of rain just before harvest as opposed to the vintages where hot, desiccating conditions can push harvesting decisions ahead of actual flavor development. Scherrer Vineyard is not a cold, high altitude mountain site so it performs well in colder vintages when rains come early because the grapes are already ripe. Why? It is a bench just off the valley floor where the springtime frosts are less an issue and the grapes tend to ripen a little earlier – but not too early. Talk about a sweet spot! The great-grandparents were no dummies.
This wine has the typical ‘cassis thing’, some nice fresh palate cleansing qualities, some good weight and persistence without being dominating or cloying. I see a ‘deciduous and fir forest underbrush after the first rains’ along with a black fruit/sage interplay that makes for interesting and pleasant table-side company. Antonio Galloni summed it up in February that “the 2011 is quite pretty. Plum, pomegranate, mocha, spice, savory herbs and ferrous notes are laced together in a super-attractive fabric. The 2011 has put on considerable weight since last year [in barrel], but it remains a quintessentially mid-weight Scherrer Cabernet.” Sounds about right, including his understanding that our wines have a rather unique trajectory in the cellar because we don’t follow the usual ‘recipe.’