“2013 was a phenomenal growing season in just about every way. A warm, dry spring led to early bud break, limited canopy vigor and berry size, and created ideal conditions through bloom and fruit set. An abundance of long sunny days, with only one heat spike in early July, resulted in even ripening and an early harvest with exceptional flavor development. The 2013 vintage offers very high quality wines that are striking in their balance and expression.”
The above paragraph was taken from a mailer I received from Paul Hobbs Winery. Paul Hobbs is one of the most respected vintners in the valley, who also has projects outside of the U.S. In fact, Forbes magazine called him the “Steve Jobs of Winemaking.” With all that said, you can trust the descriptors he provides of the growing season in 2013 for cabernet.
Why should you care about that paragraph, and what does it mean to you? It means that most vineyards experienced a remarkably balanced growing season. It was one where the climate did not demand a great deal of intervention in the vineyard to provide an optimal crop. Bud break usually occurs around St Patrick’s Day in the Valley. It is when the first shoots erupt from the dormant vines to begin the growing season. The canopy refers to the growth of grape leaves that emerge from the vines and that could require thinning based on the amount of sun needed to ensure even ripening of the grapes. Berry size is a factor as well. The depth of flavor in red wine comes from contact with the skins. The desirable grape is thick skinned and is a small berry for concentrated flavors. Even ripening refers to the consistency of all the grapes in the cluster. If some are over ripe and others under ripe, it can affect the yield and the quality of the must. “Must” is the term that refers to the squished seeds, skins and pulp. This is essentially the winemakers’ “raw” material.
Wow – that is a lot to say that the wines out of Napa Valley from the 2013 vintage have the potential to be excellent. The growing season provided a great environment to deliver wonderful fruit. Every winemaker will tell you that starting with great tasting fruit is the beginning of something wonderful. Vintage matters, and this one from Napa Valley for cabernet is a great one!