[Tasting Notes] The wine opens with high tones of red cherries and cassis that morph into grapey blackberry jam. It smells ripe with spice and bramble. The wine is viscous and dense with impressive tannins that coat the mouth and cry out for deep cellar aging. The flavors are confectionary, not unlike gourmet chocolate covered berries. The wine ends sweet with vanilla extract. Three words to describe the wine: intense…heft…SLOPE!
[History] Obsidian Ridge Vineyard is planted at 2,640' atop the Mayacamas range north of Napa Valley. This is one of the newest American Viticultural Areas, named Red Hills Lake County for the distinctive volcanic soils that define this remarkable mountain appellation. The vineyard’s red soils are shot through with obsidian rock — this steep, sloping terroir of obsidian gravel is all that a winemaker could hope for. The unrestricted drainage and meager soil fertility produce wines with great tannic structure.
[Vintage] The 2010 vintage was a roller coaster. The spring started off with welcome rainfall after three previous years of drought. Subsequent summer months were mild, with the vines holding a healthy green vigor. Then came a heat wave (more of a heat blast!) in late September. We picked in a frenzy from the ripest blocks. But then the heat broke, and the autumn played out in a long, cool harvest season. We were lighting obsidian-ringed campfires for warmth on the last mornings of picking, and our trucks left the hill just as the fall rains came down in force. The results were two camps of wines: the early lots with ultra-ripe, super concentrated red fruit flavors, and the later lots with fresher fruit flavors and lower acid. Either would make a compelling stand-alone wine, but having both styles provided exceptional blending options.
[Winemaking] The general sense, early on in harvest, was that the first picks, blocks D and E of Cabernet Sauvignon, were stellar. They had a brilliant combination of ripeness, ample acidity and tannin. This spurred us to place a portion of each into 100% new oak, blend them and bottle it under it’s own label, THE SLOPE. Appropriately named, the grapes harvested under this label were picked from the steep slopes of Obsidian Ridge rising from 2200’ to 2640’. The young wines were placed in our signature Kadar Hungary oak barrels where they aged for 18 months.