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With the 2014 vintage, a smooth and steady growing season that had only a few short heat spikes, I finally decided on 24 different wines, spanning six different appellations and 12 vineyard sites. Roughly 33% of the final blend came from Spring Mountain whose vineyard sites have soils composed primarily of volcanic loam, imparting fine tannins and delicate floral notes to the wine. To the east on Howell Mountain, we have two estate vineyards making up roughly 25% that contribute dark fruit characters, herbs and weight adding complexity and depth.
A magnificent wine made the by the brilliant winemaker Chris Carpenter, who also works for the Kendall-Jackson empire at Lakoya and a handful of other estates, this blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot is sourced from multiple vineyards owned by the Jacksons, from Veeder Peak to Spring Mountain to Howell Mountain. In 2014, it reminded me of a great vintage of Pontet-Canet from Pauillac, but slightly bigger than life. The inky purple color, the stunning nose of cedar wood, unsmoked cigar tobacco, graphite, crème de cassis and subtle new oak is followed by a multi-layered, profoundly concentrated, large-scaled wine with sensational levels of blackcurrant fruit moving toward blackberries. A wine of great intensity, silky tannins and adequate acidity, this is clearly one of the great, great wines of the vintage, and another tour de force in winemaking from Carpenter. It is a 15- to 20- year wine, but the window for drinking it is probably that big as well.