The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2013

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A few years later, when John Terlato, Vice Chairman of Terlato Wine Group, happened upon the slopes that now comprise the family's Estate Vineyard, it was a gut instinct that underneath an epic canopy of brush there just might be the ingredients for the making of a prime vineyard. After taking soil samples, his instincts were confirmed. "The soil in this vineyard is like a dream come true—well-drained, decomposed volcanic rock, sandy loam and clay sandy loam—think of lava rock ground up into a powder. The technical name for the soil is 'Forward-Kidd complex,' the common name is 'volcanic tuff.' The slope is quite steep, upwards of 35 percent in some places," explains Terlato. In 2004, after careful consideration, a decision was made to clear the brush and to plant. "It wasn't planted as an ego trip or on a whim. It was planted as a passion, my family's 70 year-long passion for, and appreciation of, the great wines of the world." Terlato recalls a sense that the site harbored powerful potential: "A world-class vineyard where we could farm very distinctive, high-quality fruit with great intensity." The Terlatos were also thinking about the importance and reputation of Napa Valley. "We planted the vineyard when we were absolutely sure that we could do so with minimal impact to the surrounding area and the local ecosystem," says Terlato. "Planting was very carefully planned as well—row orientation, trellis system, variety and clonal choices—every detail was considered, all the way down to the state of the art and extraordinarily sophisticated erosion control system." The size of the clearing is approximately seven acres, with just over six acres planted to vines. Two clones of Cabernet Sauvignon and three rootstocks were used. The clones hail from Aquitaine, a region in southwest France between Bordeaux and the Tasting Notes John Terlato at the Terlato Estate Vineyard. Terlato Family Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford ($65) In the glass, a lovely, pristine deep ruby red color leads to sweet cherry, cola and blackberry spice, cedar, cinnamon and tobacco leaf on the nose. A soft mouthfeel with noticeable young tannin gives way to rich red and black fruit followed by hints of cedar, mocha and tobacco spice with a nice lengthy finish. Pyrenees: Clone 7, a well-known old workhorse producing exceptional quality, flavor and yield in California, and Clone 15 ENTAV. The rootstocks 110-R and 3309 were chosen for moderate soils areas for their durable, drought-resistant qualities, while 420A was chosen for better soils where less vigor is required for the vines to reach nutrients. The last block was completed in 2005, and all the plants are trained onto a unilateral cordon vertical shoot positioning system (or VSP). "We were rewarded with a small first harvest from this location in 2006, and in 2007 we received a larger yield from this same site," says Terlato. Fruit selected from this site becomes the cornerstone of the Terlato Family Vineyards Cabernet and Bordeauxblend programs. Seeing through the brush was one of those "light-bulb" moments for the Terlatos, and there's a bigger payoff now that the Estate Vineyard is producing idyllic fruit. John Terlato suggests, "Taste our Terlato Family Vineyards Rutherford Cabernet alongside our Terlato Family Vineyards Stags Leap District Cabernet. This side-by-side comparison offers a clear, real life example of the effects of terroir." The choice to plant Cabernet Sauvignon was opportunistically prescient. "We knew the vineyard was of prime soil composition and would deliver outstanding quality Cabernet grapes," says Terlato, "and that is the start of crafting a great and important wine." november 2013  /  the tasting panel  /  1 17 TP1113_109-156.indd 117 10/24/13 9:16 AM

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