Do you love cabernet sauvignon? If you answered affirmatively, I certainly hope one of the places you’re drinking it from is Alexander Valley California. Cabernet happens to be one of the grapes that thrive in a lot of places around the world. Excellent cabernet abounds from the old and the new world. In California a lot of attention is paid to Napa Valley cabs, and rightly so, there are a ton of excellent examples there. However a couple of parts of Sonoma County have the ability to grow cabernet every bit as prodigious as the best cabernet sauvignons that Napa offers and Alexander Valley leads that list. Here’s a wine from Stonestreet that is simply stunning.
The Stonestreet Alexander Mountain Estate 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was produced using fruit from vines that sit more than 2,000 feet above sea level. The winery has over 5,000 acres on site but only 900 are planted to vine while the rest retains the natural mountain ecosystem. The fruit was harvested and sorted by hand prior to fermentation in tanks. Barrel aging was accomplished over 19 months in French oak; 51 percent of the barrels utilized were new. 505 cases of this wine were produced with a suggested retail price of $100. Fresh, dark berry fruit aromas abound on the nose of this cabernet sauvignon. A substantial spice component is in play as well. Black cherry, raspberry and blackberry lead a bevy of flavors that dominate a palate that is both fruit forward and completely even keeled and proportionate. Pencil lead, dusty baker’s chocolate, dark plum and black pepper characteristics are all in play on the finish which is substantial in length, depth and precision. Mineral notes and a hint of earth fire off a final salvo that echo on the back of the throat. The tannins here are velvety and approachable. While this cabernet will certainly pair well with hearty cuisine, it’s more than accessible and amenable to being enjoyed on its own.
A couple of things set this cabernet apart. One is that fact that you could drink Rockfall now, or you could lay it down for 15 years and note its evolution. If you’re going to drink it now, decanting it for an hour or so allows it to blossom and fully express its young and exuberant charms. Another is how well balanced and proportionate it is. Some cabs are brutish and unapproachable in their youth, or sickly sweet and unbalanced; Rockfall is none of those things. Quite frankly, it’s just kind of awesome. There’s a lot of California cabernet pushing past the $100 price tag. Some of them offer the quality and depth to warrant that price tag; sadly way too many of them don’t. The 2009 Rockfall from Stonestreet does. It’s delicious, structured, elegant, complex and strikingly shows off a sense of place, one of the best places for cabernet, the king of grapes. If you’re in the market for top shelf new world cabernet, grab this one, your taste buds will thank you.