This vineyard is part of Tor’s 40-year history in the Napa Valley.
This vineyard is part of Tor’s 40-year history in the Napa Valley. He knew its early stewards, Bob and Alex Phillips, who bought the vineyard in 1959 and made it one of Napa Valley’s stars in the 80s and 90s. The vineyard was first planted in 1884 and is a perfect site for Bordeaux varietals. We now work with their son, Bruce Phillips, in Block 7, where we have an acre of old vine Cabernet Sauvignon and 3D, just beneath the Bond Vecina block, with just over an acre of Cabernet Sauvignon and just under an acre of Petit Verdot. Always curious, we love to co-ferment the Cabernet and Petit Verdot from this great site. In some years, “Black Magic” has been shaped in this vineyard.
Block 7 is the gravelliest block in Vine Hill Ranch, with mature vines planted around twenty years ago, giving a wine of singular structure, depth and definition. Classic TOR winemaking, with about three weeks on skins during and post-fermentation. Matured in a mix of Taransaud and Darnajou small French oak barrels for twenty months, then bottled without fining or filtration.
This is everyone’s Cabernet Sauvignon of the vintage, and a wine that may well go down in Napa Valley legend. Our first Vine Hill Ranch designate Cabernet Sauvignon, from the gravelliest soils in that great vineyard, in a typically red-fruited vintage this is all black fruit. Blackberry, boysenberry and black cherry layered with dark chocolate, briar, exotic spices and potpourri. Has the power and richness of the best Napa Cabernet with more of a classical First Growth structure. Jeff considers this perhaps the most complex and complete Cabernet Sauvignons he has ever made.
It will be one of those vintages that will be discussed for decades to come. The wines we made are beautiful, our highest-scoring Chardonnays to-date as well as Cabernets and Proprietary Reds that are reflective of great vintages, with early barrel scores into potential 100-point range. Our reds have excellent extract; layered, downright sexy wines that have the structure to live a long time. I taste the wines and marvel. It was a very wet spring, over 30 inches of rain in January and February alone. Spring bloom and set went smoothly, and we rolled into the summer with heat spikes in July, late August, and early September. By early October all the Chardonnays were in and the Cabernets were reaching optimum maturity. We dropped a lot of fruit in 2017, a cluster per shoot in To Kalon, and in part because of this, we had all our fruit in by mid-October. Then came the fire, which had no influence on our wines, but changed all our lives. The wines themselves are rays of sunlight when I reflect on 2017.