The 2016 Fortitude Cabernet is big and bold, offering both power and finesse in the intensely extracted and concentrated wine. Vibrant, fresh aromas of dark black cherry, blackberry, candied dark plum blossom, and perfumed musk leap from the glass.
An incredible depth of structure supports an expansive palate saturated with blackberry liqueur, macerated blueberry, ripe black cherry, rich dark chocolate, rum raisin, black licorice, toasty espresso, graphite, and tar. There are dense, plush, mouth-pleasing tannins with layers and volume, finishing with tremendous length. This is a monster wine with incredible intensity, but also very lush and lithe, dancing on the palate despite the intensity due to the incredibly well-balanced focused acidity. Mouth-filling and layered with well-integrated sweet oak nuances of vanilla bean and caramel are present from the new French oak barrels.
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 Cabernet with beautiful fruit as well as tremendous concentration of flavors, highly saturated color, and layers of complexity.
To give the 2016 Fortitude its layered complexity, we selected grapes from the best vineyards in different soils and mesoclimates of Napa Valley. This is the first vintage of Fortitude that represents our ICON vineyards, being sourced from the best of our estate vineyards. The Cabernet, which made up 94% of the blend, comes from acclaimed vineyards in Oakville and Sleeping Lady Vineyard in Yountville, and eight percent of our very best Hewitt Vineyard blocks in Rutherford. The remaining 6% of the blend, was hillside Malbec sourced from Yates vineyard on Mt. Veeder, which contributed to the dark saturated rich blue and black fruit characteristics. This iconic vineyard only sells to a few very special wineries and is family owned and farmed.
After hand harvesting the fruit, we gently sorted it first as clusters, and again, after destemming, as single berries. Three days of cold soaking before fermentation gently extracted the deep purple color and rich varietal flavors from the skins. A portion of the wine was fermented in barrels, with the balance in stainless steel, to enhance the plush texture of the wine and integrate fruit and oak character. Following fermentation, extended skin contact and gentle pressing, the wine completed malolactic fermentation in barrels to round the acidity.
Aged for 22 months in 90% new French oak barrels.
Aging in entirely new French oak barrels wove toasty oak tones through the dark-fruit character.