The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2017

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october 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  1 15 Ferrari-Carano's Affectionately Named RockRise Mountain On the back side of Ferrari-Carano's RockRise Mountain grow 40 acres of low-yielding Cabernet Sauvignon. Produced at 1,100 feet in rocky, nutrient-poor soil, the Cabernet goes into Ferrari- Carano's PreVail Back Forty. PreVail 2013 Back Forty, Alexander Valley This is a big and jammy 100% Cabernet featuring cranberry sauce, ripe blackberry, and pencil shavings along with a spicy vanilla character. These small-berried Cab grapes are harvested by hand and cold-soaked for four days before being fermented and macerated on the skins for about a month. Aged 24 months in 73% new French and Hungarian oak, 24% older oak, and then in bottle for 14 months. Ferrari Carano's Aptly Named LookOut Mountain While enjoying the panoramic view atop LookOut Mountain in Alexander Valley, you can see the adjoining appellations of Knights Valley and Chalk Hill. Vines ranging from 15–20 years old are grown at an elevation ranging from 500–1,400 feet above sea level. PreVail 2013 West Face, Alexander Valley Broad and substantial on the palate, this 66% Cabernet Sauvignon/34% Syrah blend offers fresh ripe blueberries, plum, and blackberry compote, followed by cinnamon mocha, cloves, and a slight maple bacon character. Grapes are hand-harvested, cold-soaked for three days, then fermented and macerated for about one month on the skins. Wine is aged 24 months in 61% new French and Hungarian oak and 39% neutral oak, then 14 months in bottle. Cons The steep terrain can make for precarious and even dangerous farming. The vines run a higher risk of incurring frost damage due to colder temperatures. Vineyards may be more prone to certain vine diseases. Colder temperatures can lead to difficulty for the ripening process. Pros Mountain fruit growing closer to the sun experi- ences warmer days, while the elevation makes for cooler nights. This drop in temperature will halt the production of sugar, slowing the maturation process. The wider diurnal swing also helps to both ripen and maintain acid levels. The higher intensity of sunlight causes the grape skins to thicken, create more antioxidants, deepen their pigment, and ripen tannins at a higher rate. This higher level of phenolics makes for a higher level of concentration in wine. Prevailing wind exposure and less oxygen stresses the grape-growing process, causing lower yields and deeper roots. The nutrient-poor and rocky soils typically found in mountain winegrowing areas stresses the vines, causing the roots to dig deeper. This results in lower yields and often provides higher minerality. The steep slopes and rocky soils make for better drainage. The smooth sloping vine- yards of RockRise Mountain grow at 1,100 feet. The Pros and Cons of Mountain Fruit Ferrari-Carano's PreVail Wines Alexander Valley is certainly not the first AVA that comes to mind when considering California's higher elevations, but Ferrari-Carano's two mountain ranches are the area's few exceptions. Ferrari-Carano sources Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah for PreVail grown there at elevations as high as 1,400 feet. "At higher elevations, our Cabernet Sauvignon vines are exposed to more intense sunlight and experience greater soil drainage," says Executive Winemaker Sarah Quider. "These conditions lead to fewer and smaller grape clusters and smaller berries. As a result, we produce wines with greater color intensity and concentration— perfect for our PreVail Back Forty and West Face wines."

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