I had a really good night on Saturday. Sasha was in The City with an old friend so I took Alec (my son) to Pizzaiola, a great pizza and pasta place at Telegraph and 51st in Oakland. It’s fun to have a “guys'” night out. I also took along a 375 of the 2003 Butterdragon Hill. It was a good chance for me to sip on our upcoming release.

Just a few informal thoughts…

Elegance and restraint. It is not as fruit forward or primary as the 2002 was at this stage. The wine is regaining some heft as we put some time between it and the bottling last September. The fruit is really nice, but there’s complexity showing through that differentiates it from the 02. Oak, spice box, anise, tea, mocha… it’s not as big and lush as the 02, but probably a more complete and definitely more complex wine. Probably will age longer. Definitely more sophisticated. Definitely better than the 2002 with a meal. I like the color — a medium ruby with lovely luster. Doesn’t look “big” in the glass… yet. Charming cassis and raspberry ribbon of fruit. Some will like it a lot better than the 2002, some will not. While it also displays the candy aroma in the finished glass that seems to be the M.O. of Butterdragon, it’s currently not the “fun” party wine that the 2002 was/is… also lower in alcohol than the 02. I like it. How cool is it to get to know this vineyard.

I tasted our 03 and 04 vintages out of the barrel a couple of days ago and thought this would be a good opportunity to report how these vintages are shaping up for us. 2003 will be the last vintage when we produce only one wine as 2004 will see the debut of Baconbrook.

2003 Butterdragon Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (final blend)

03 was a head scratcher – it was really a story of two vintages. An extremely hot September caused the vines at the bottom portion of Butterdragon – where the soil is thinner – to start to shut down. We were losing a lot of grapes to dehydration. Dimpled grapes or “sad faces” were starting to predominate. It was either harvest or loose the crop so we brought in about ¼ of the vineyard earlier than anticipated. The rest we gambled that the weather would break and it would make it until we felt the grapes had reached full flavor ripeness.

That “early” lot made pretty good wine, but it never fit in with what we’re trying to do at Match so we decided not to include it in the final blend. Fortunately, our gamble waiting to harvest the rest of the vineyard paid off and the September 2003 heat gave way to some perfect ripening weather in early October.

The final 2003 blend from Butterdragon – to be bottled September 2005 – is showing remarkable complexity with mature fruit, more earthy characteristics than our 02, and a touch of eucalyptus. The tannic structure indicates that this wine will probably require more patience to reveal it potential.

2004 was a great growing season, but as I’m starting to learn, abnormal is normal in farming. Everything moved up 3-4 weeks in 2004. Spring was early followed by an even, pleasant growing season culminating in hot weather during early September. Many vineyards, including ours, were ready for harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon in early to mid September. It’s still so early, but it looks like 2004 will be a blockbuster year for us at Match.

2004 Butterdragon Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Our 2004 wines have not yet been blended, so these are comments on the components that will eventually become our 2004 release.
Merlot – Of the 90 rows at Butterdragon, 3 of them are Merlot. 2002 gave us just a tad of Merlot. Those grapes were “field blended” – harvested and fermented in the same tank – as the Cab. In 2003 we got a bit more merlot, fermented separately, but ended up blending in with the Cab. We’re really liking the way about 3% Merlot can soften and round out a Cab.
In 2004, we’ve again kept the Merlot separate up to now. It’s a pretty wine, very floral and bright and would stand nicely on its own. Still, since we have so little of it, we currently plan to use most if not all in the final blend of our 2004 Butterdragon Hill Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cabernet Sauvignon (Clone 7) – Dark fruits, big mouthfeel, really big aromas of berries.
Cabernet Sauvignon (Clone 15) – Brighter fruit, more acidity than the Clone 7, more oak and tannin evident.
We’re really excited about what the above three wines are going to do when they join forces to become our 2004 Match Butterdragon Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Baconbrook Cabernet Sauvignon

Ah the newcomer… but it’s not arriving quietly. The 04 Baconbrook is going to be a monster. Ever time I try it, I like it more. The pieces are coming together wonderfully with incredibly complex dark fruits, leather, and a huge tannic structure for this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cary Gott has described this wine as being more like Howell Mountain than its own appellation, Spring Mountain District. This is one of those wines that stains the glass and makes you brush your teeth afterwards. It may be a 20+ year wine.

website securityContact Us
3060 White Sulphur Springs Rd
St Helena, CA 94574
t: (707) 200-3510
  • RSS
  • Mailing List
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • NetworkedBlogs
  • YouTube