The Araujo Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has a unique allure to it. It is the finesse, purity of fruit, vivid acidity and profound mineral character that set this wine apart from the other Napa wines. Its style is almost reminiscent of Pomerol. It is a sophisticated wine with great potential. Thanks to the Araujos vineyard management, the wines are showing an increasing amount of the terroir character. The terroir There are three terroir factors that give the Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon its unique character.
Firstly, the vineyard is located in a cove protected by the Palisades Mountains, which draw cool air from the Sonoma coastline to the site from the western Chalk Hill Gap. This helps the grapes keep their freshness and acidity, which is often a challenge given the warm Calistoga district.
The second factor is the subsoil composition, which is being shaped by the two tributaries crossing the vineyard. The subsoil is made up of volcanic cobbles derived from the Palisades Mountains. This deep rocky subsoil is well-draining causing the vine roots to penetrate deep into the ground in search of water. As the roots penetrate the soil levels, more mineral compounds are being absorbed adding minerals and complexity to the grapes. As the vineyard lies on a gently sloping hill there are parts of the vineyard with richer soil containing volcanic ash, small stones and red clay. These parts provide more weight and complexity to the flavour profile of the grapes.
The third terroir factor is formed by the Araujos themselves. Through innovative vineyard management practices, the Araujos have succeeded in transferring the unique terroir into their wines. Philosophy in winemaking The Araujos commitment to producing estate-grown wines of highest calibre and distinction has driven them to employ cutting-edge practices in farming and winemaking
The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard reveals the same weight and density of the 2012, but it possesses an extra dimension of purity as well as surreal elegance and finesse that are difficult to marry to a wine this concentrated. The tannins are super well-integrated and silky, but are clearly present in this full-bodied, multidimensional 2013. It exhibits Eisele’s hallmark character of extraordinary floral notes intermixed with forest floor, blueberries, black raspberries and blackcurrants. This beautifully crafted Cabernet builds incrementally to a fabulously long finish that equals that of the 2012. Both these vintages are so spectacular that it will be hard to choose a favorite whether the wines are 2-years-old, 5-years-old, 15-years-old or 25-years-old. This beauty should last 25-35 years.
In 2013, this historic estate was sold by the Araujos to the Groupe Artemis and François Pinault, the French entrepreneur/billionaire who is best known in the wine world as the proprietor of Bordeaux’s Château Latour as well as several other French estates, most notably the tiny diamond with its own appellation, Château Grillet near Condrieu. Pinault also owns Domaine René Engel in Burgundy. This is my first look at the wines under the new ownership. I was among the first to review these wines when the vineyard was owned by the Eisele family, who sold grapes to Ridge in 1971 for the first single vineyard offering from this site, and subsequently to Conn Creek in 1974 and Joseph Phelps for nearly a decade. The 38-acre vineyard protected by the Palisades Mountains sits in the northeast quadrant of Napa Valley. It was planted on low-yielding, gravelly, cobbly soils in the 1880s to both Riesling and Zinfandel. The first Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in 1964 with the Olmo Clone (believed to have originated at the nearby Larkmead Vineyard on the valley floor). Araujo has turned out some fabulous wines in 2012 and 2013, all incredibly young and primary, but bursting with potential.