1996 Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker Notes Our tonnage was down about 20% in 1996, and to achieve the quality we wanted in our red wines, we further employed a rigorous selection process in the assembly of the final blends. As a result, although production was down, we were able to craft a Cabernet with big, ripe, red fruit flavors, spicy, concentrated aromas, and a long, smooth finish.
Winemaking Data Grapes were harvested at an average of 24.0° Brix, fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged 19 months in a combination of French oak (75%) and American oak (25%) before being blended and bottled in July 1998.
Vintage Notes The 1996 growing season presented us with an untimely weather system in mid-may, which dumped 4 inches of rain in a 7 day period. Blooming grape clusters suffered significant damage with subsequent reductions in crop yield. With the onset of ripening near the end of July, temperatures in the 90+ range persisted for 10 consecutive days, reducing the rate of photosynthesis and forcing the wines to shut down enzyme activity. Ideal weather finally appeared in September, but the sugar/acid/flavor balance between vineyards was variable, and the decision as to when to pick each black was made at the latest possible date.
92 Points - Wine Spectator
Another outstanding red from Phelps, this one serving up lots of juicy ripe fruit, with layers of cherry, currant, blackberry and anise, turning supple and concentrated, with a rich aftertaste that keeps pumping out flavors. (Aug. 1999)
90 Points - Inside Wine
A classic, ensemble bouquet of berry, cassis, clove, mint, oak and leather. Intense flavors of youthful, red fruit integrated with spicy wood tannins. Complex and generous. (April/May 1999)
92 Points - Wine & Spirits
Craig Williams has a way with Cabernet, pushing a grape that can be cranky and mean to learn a little graciousness. And he does it without turning away from varietal character, without going soft. This young Cabernet starts out austere, a taut little package glowing red. With air, it builds into toned cassis at the front of the palate, and escalates to luscious, plump, plummy fruit pouring out of the finish. The flavors are expansive, held in place by a sleek structure: beautiful Napa Cabernet, tight and fine. (June 1999)
91 Points - Wine Enthusiast
Saturated ruby-violet hue. generously aromatic with big plummy aromas and toasty vanilla notes. A rich attack leads a full-bodied with a tick, chewy mouthfeel and lush, ripe-cherry fruit flavors complemented by generous, supple tannins. A big, chewy wine that has the structure to age further. (June 1999)
Blend and Grape Sources
90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc from estate-owned vineyards and independent growers.
Appellation Napa Valley
Harvest Dates September 11 - October 10, 1996
Aging/Cooperage 19 months in a combination of French oak (75%) and American oak (25%) before being blended and bottled in July 1998.