Martha's Vineyard Cabenet Sauvignon
The distinguished legacy of Heitz Wine Cellars spans nearly half a century.
Founders Joe and Alice Heitz embarked on their illustrious journey in 1961 when there were fewer than a dozen wineries scattered across the Napa Valley. With the purchase of their first 8-acre vineyard just south of St. Helena, Joe’s years of intense study and experience quickly translated into a reputation for bold and brilliant winemaking.
That carefully nurtured reputation is thriving today with the second-generation. Siblings Kathleen Heitz Myers, president, and David Heitz, winemaker, have both been integral to the winery’s success for the past three decades.
Since 1964, this winemaking dynasty has operated from their 160-acre ranch and homestead in the eastern hills of St. Helena.
Heitz’ Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has enjoyed flagship standing among the family’s esteemed portfolio of wines since Joe Heitz produced the first bottle in 1966.
In fact, Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet has been revered by wine lovers and collectors around the world for more than 40 years. Wine Spectator validated their opinion of this remarkable wine when they selected it as one of the Top 12 wines of the 20th Century.
The acclaim for Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet drew attention to the Napa Valley and helped to bring about international recognition of California wines. In 1997, the Heitz Family was invited to attend a history-making dinner in France hosted by Champagne Louis Roederer where Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet was honored as one of the “The World’s Thirty Greatest Wines”.
All of this fanfare had its beginnings in 1965 when the Heitz Family formed a special bond with Tom and Martha May. The Mays had been gifted with two memorable bottles of Heitz wines when they acquired their 34-acre Oakville vineyard in 1963. Although the couple wanted to concentrate on grape growing, they believed that their ranch near the Mayacamas foothills had “special dirt”, and they felt that their fruit warranted the attention of a top winemaker.
The Mays decided to make a visit to Heitz Wine Cellars where their opportune meeting with Joe and Alice marked the beginning of a treasured friendship and now-historic business relationship. That important connection continues today with the second generation of both families and the exclusive arrangement now includes the sibling team of Richard May and Laura May Everett.
The first harvest of the May’s vineyard yielded berries of incomparable quality. The unique character of Martha’s Vineyard inspired Joe and Tom to create the first vineyard designated wine in the Napa Valley – the 1966 Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
“Dad wanted the pure essence from the vineyard to come across, and Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet has the become the most well-known around the world for its unique mintiness and aroma, the layers of complexity that it produces, and its dark, deep chocolate richness,” said Kathleen Heitz Myers.
The vineyard is farmed organically today and typically yields small, deep purple berries with highly intense flavor. The rows of vines are positioned on the western side of the valley where they revel in the morning sun and then cool slightly earlier than the valley floor. The farm is situated on a graveled alluvial plain surrounded by huge Eucalyptus trees which many believe to be the source of the wine’s distinctive minty taste and aroma.
Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet benefits from the Heitz Family’s signature aging process which proceeds at a carefully orchestrated pace for five years from vintage to release.
Tasting Notes: The 2009 Martha’s Vineyard is an impressive wine with remarkable clarity and depth of flavor.
The enticing dark garnet color of this Cabernet softens and elongates as you tilt the wine glass to see the translucence of the hue on the edges. Its classic, clean mint aroma evokes a smile in recognition of an “old friend”. On the palate, layers of complexity show an opulence of fruit, smoothly integrated with the core tannins of a slightly cooler growing season. This is a beautifully focused wine with textbook varietal character.
The overall vibrancy of this Cabernet promises strength and balance that will carry forward for many years of enduring enjoyment – a true treasure from the Oakville appellation within the Napa Valley.