The 2001 vintage was a Napa Valley classic. A slightly late bud break was followed by cool April weather and the worst spring frosts in many years. The North Coast saw several nights in a row below freezing. Some of the coldest temperatures recorded were on Howell Mountain, which saw lows between 19 and 21 degrees Fahrenheit. Many sites that rarely freeze were affected during this period, fortunately Black Sears was not as our budbreak occurred after the frosts. As so often happens in California, this freeze was followed by a dramatic swing in weather pattern. May turned very warm and provided an early season hot spell. Our vineyards saw lush growth, great leaf color and absolutely no signs of stress or deficiencies. June continued the warm pattern of May and insured that the vines were in the best health we have seen since 1985. Veraison was slow and even and August was quite moderate until a heat spike between the 24th and 28th. This heat wave brought many sites to accelerated maturity. Fortunately for us, we did not achieve optimal ripeness until mid September, when the vines had had a chance to recover from the heat wave, and we picked the grapes in a few hours on the morning of September 24th. The Black Sears Cabernet was de-stemmed and gently poured directly into the fermenter. We used no pumps. This insured retention of all whole berries. Total time in tank was 35 days as compared to the 38 days of 1999. Unlike the earlier vintages of 1999 and 1997 this wine received neither pre nor post fermentation maceration. The wine was pressed at dryness and barreled down immediately to undergo malolactic fermentation in barrel. and was racked only 5 times during a 22 month aging regime in barrels.The oak regime consisted of 100% new French oak from coopers Sylvain, Bossuet and Taransaud. The wine was neither fined nor filtered.
The 2001 Cabernet is a rich, powerful and concentrated wine with substantial but supple tannins. While the 1999 and 1997 versions of this wine needed some time in bottle to soften the substantial tannins, the 2001 vintage is more supple and forward. While we expect that it will age extremely well and continue to improve, the richness of mid palate and supple tannins make for lovely drinking even in the shorter term. The aroma profile consists of black olive, tamarind, mocha and licorice. There are also balsamic, chocolate and forest floor notes. The attack is rich and soft with both power and elegance. The wine has weight without being ponderous and shows a long supple finish. We find the characteristic mineral note of wines from this property. While comparisons are not always indicative, the Black Sears family and Ted Lemon believe that this wine is most reminiscent of the Graves region of Bordeaux rather than of the Medoc, St. Emilion, Pomerol or the Napa Valley floor.
-Ted Lemon, Winemaker