2019 Cabernet Sauvignon
It takes guts to grow a late-ripening varietal like Cabernet Sauvignon in a place like Canada.
At least that’s what I tell myself every year around the first week of September, in an internal pep talk of sorts, when there are still a few green berries in my Cabernet clusters and every other varietal is fully through veraison.
A real-world analogy to this situation would be being confident in your seemingly independent 4-year-old’s maturity level, until one day they come home from school with a craft-scissor hairstyle and you realize that they weren’t quite as mature as you gave yourself credit for. There is a gut-wrenching moment of reckoning, followed by the realization that there is a lot more work to do than you initially thought. The irony here, of course, is that both situations require a lot more cutting to remedy the problem.
When I look back at my notes for the 2019 vintage, the first thing I have written is “very wet year – 50% meant 100% PoP”. There aren’t many other entries in those notes that are fit for print, so let’s focus on the positives!
Some of my favourite Cabernet Sauvignon wines, over the years, have come from “cooler” vintages. Providing that the vines were properly thinned and allowed to hang to the bitter end of the season, they show remarkable ability to ripen fruit. It is in those cooler vintages where the St. David’s Bench really demonstrates its versatility in regard to Terroir. The SDB can give you the heavy hitter Cabs of 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2016; while managing to offer a somewhat more elegant version in years like 2019.
Call me a sucker for the underdog, but I tend to gravitate to some elements of the cooler vintage Cabs – especially when aged to perfection. The combination of slightly higher acidity and brighter red fruit components is right up my alley.
The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon was hand-harvested on November 5th, with 48 picking boxes sourced from our Clone 169 Block and 110 boxes from our Old Block (mixed clones). The fruit was allowed to cold-soak for five days before warming for fermentation. The bins were dry within five days and achieved peak fermentation temperature of 32C. Four French Oak barrels (one new) were filled after pressing and the wine was allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation in barrel. After spending 24 months in oak and 6 months bulk aging in tank, 108 cases were bottled on April 25th, 2022.
Far from reaching its peak, this young wine is loaded with aromas of red licorice, wild blueberry and cassis. There is a familiar, oak-related spice which I usually associate with Radoux medium toast barrels, that is carried harmoniously through the aromatics to the palate. This wine has the potential to age well for 7-10 years (2029-2032).