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2011 Blueline Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

2011 Blueline Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Bob Foley
Jeff and Carolyn Smith
The Chilton and Clark Families
Vineyard Designation
Blueline Estate
Soil Series
Gravelly Cortina River Wash
Calistoga, Napa Valley
93% Cabernet, 7% Petit Verdot
Barrel Program
Aged 20 months in 40% new French oak

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Vintage Overview

The 2011 vintage was cool by Napa standards with average daytime high temperatures hovering in the low 80s. In many respects it was similar to 2010, with the exception of early October rains that created unusual concentrations of Tule fog in many areas of Napa Valley. Fog became a determining factor for many valley floor vineyards, influencing the onset of botrytis mold and hastening picking decisions for many vineyards. 

Located in a slightly warmer part of the Valley, the Blueline Estate is ideally suited to deal with cooler vintages and fog thanks to its well-drained gravelly soils and west-facing exposures that take in full afternoon sun. The canyons above the Blueline Estate produce a thermal draw that quickly dissipates fog, allowing for greater hang time. Consequently, we were able to achieve greater ripeness while the cooler days helped retain natural acidity, resulting in more classically structured wines. The 2011 Blueline wines achieved ripe tannins with supple textures and great aromatics in addition to the lift and layering of cooler vintage acidity. Rather than exhibit pure power, the 2011 vintage showcases a fruit spectrum, from red to black fruits, with great balance and nuance. 

Tasting Profile

Aromas of dried cranberries, soy, and cinnamon spice juxtapose a heady cedar box perfume. The 2011 Cabernet is of a more classical style, with a wonderful layering of red and black fruits, and a great structure of well integrated acid and core fruit. The tight center core is supplemented by silky tannins and exterior layers of fleshy black fruit on the mid-palate, making it rich yet highly structured. The telltale minerality of the Blueline vineyard runs through the length of the wine, providing a wet slate texture and adding energy and lift throughout.

Cellaring Potential 

The 2011 vintage has been much maligned by the press, but keep in mind the ‘97 and ‘98 vintages. The ‘97s were showy and sexy upon release and the ‘98 harder and less expansive on the palate.  In many cases, the script has flipped on these vintages. Over time, many ‘98s outlasted the ‘97s and developed into more complex wines. Our ‘11 BLCS avoided the vegetal characteristics associated with some Cabs picked too early in 2011 and are quite beautiful now. Having said that, we think this is a vintage that will become much more interesting over the next 15 years.

~Jeff Smith, January 2016