2007 Random Ridge Cabernets – Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc Blend
Mission Codename: Random Ratios
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Random Ridge and secure a sizeable cache of their 2007 Cabernets, a stellar Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend from Random Ridge
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Random Ridge
Wine Subject: 2007 Mount Veeder Cabernets – Cab Sauv / Cab Franc Blend
Winemaker: Bill Hawley
Mt. Veeder, located on the eastern slopes of the Mayacamas range has a climate that is cooler than the valley floor below. This climate and the more difficult (less fertile) volcanic mountain soil influence the flavors of the wines from this region. Best known for Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt. Veeder vineyards produce grapes of exceptional character and intensity.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark red cherry juice with deeply concentrated color, from edge to core. Spin the wine and it settles quickly. As it settles, it leaves behind tall, chubby wine-colored tears that march slowly down the glass.
Smell – Bold and sweet and gently spiced, this wine exudes tons of black cherry, blueberry, blackberry jam, bramble and plum, layered over brown spice, toasty oak and a hint of tomato stem. As the wine opens, fennel and red flowers appear.
Feel – Expansive, softly weighty and instantly mouth-coating, this wine has an energetic acidity, fine-grained tannins and a fine minerality that all add up to an elegant complexity.
Taste – Tangy and sweet, with layers of lush fruit, starting with spiced black cherry and red plum. Just beneath these sit black raspberry, black pepper, brown spice, dark dried fall leaves and flinty minerals.
Finish – Very long, with a spice component that carries the fruit a long way. As flavors gently tail off, black pepper and flint emerge, along with a mineral-rich dryness.
Overall – The 2007 Random Ridge Mount Veeder Cabernets is a fantastic update to the prior vintages that we have shown here. Built from Bill Hawley’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (two of thisAgents favorite varietals), this 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc blend is an elegant, structured, food-fantastic wine. Rich aromatics provide the first clues as to what is to come, on the palate, but that first sip still knocks your socks off! Pair this wine with your favorite red meat dish, or enjoy it all on its own. We enjoyed ours with a nice rare prime rib, with plenty of horseradish. It was absolutely divine!
Mission Report: WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Bill Hawley, Random Ridge
WINE EDUCATION: Bill graduated with honors with a degree in poetry from Sonoma State College in 1974. His senior project focused on the influence of Zen Buddhism on the poetry of the San Francisco renaissance and the Beats. He met Phil Coturri studying poetry at college and was inspired by him and his brother Tony in the cult of winemaking and grapegrowing. He has taken courses in winemaking and viticulture at UC Davis extension, Napa College, and Santa Rosa Junior College. He has traveled to many wine regions to study winemaking and surfing, including France (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, Languedoc, Champagne), Spain (Rioja), Portugal, Madeira, Chile, Baja Mexico,
New Zealand, and Australia (Margaret River).
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Bill lived and worked at BR Cohn Vineyards in1975, spending a full season on the Cohn ranch in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. He worked at Kenwood Winery in 1977 and In 1978 helped build a winery in Sonoma for Walter Benson that later became Haywood and is now Ravenswood. He then worked as vineyard manager for Chalone at Carmenet Vineyards from 1982-1988, and at the same time planted the first vines at
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Wine is made in the vineyard.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”Grow good grapes and get out of the way.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1988
AGENT RED: Greetings, Bill. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BILL HAWLEY: It’s great to go on another mission with you, Agent Red!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BILL: In grapegrowing, Joe Miami, the longtime manager at Louis Martini’s Monte Rosso. In winemaking, I was very intrigued by Martin Ray at Mt. Eden and Andre Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu. Later, Dick Graff from Chalone opened my eyes wide to the pleasure of food and wine combinations.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
BILL: I make wines that suit my palate. I am not making wines for review, I am making wine for myself, my family, and my friends and that I hope reach out to kindred souls who appreciate a rich man’s wine at a poor man’s price.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BILL: It is a true elixer from a great vintage. It is a wine that is honest and generous in flavor, that can be enjoyed now but will also reward further cellaring.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BILL: I like it paired with meats grilled over a wood fire of manzanita or seasoned oak barrel staves. Rack of lamb with potato risotto is also a perfect accompaniment. This wine also works well with rustic crusty bread—I love bread from Della Fattoria in Petaluma and the Downtown Bakery and Creamery in Healdsburg—and local goat cheese.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Mr. Veeder appellation so special?
BILL: It’s the elevation, inclination, climate, rocks, and volcanic soil. What’s not often talked about with grapegrowing in the mountains is that we are above the fog, and the intensity of the sunlight influences the flavors and colors of the grapes. Growing grapes up here takes a certain maverick spirit and tenacity—this is labor-intensive viticulture. We have a long growing season and the vines struggle to survive. All farming up here is a hand job.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BILL: In the vineyard we are watching the cover crop grow and enjoying the fall colors on the vines. The wines are finishing fermentation and going to barrel.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
BILL: With a meal or without, in crystal or a mason jar, but definitely with friends and by candlelight.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
BILL: Thanks, Hombre. Here’s a little something that I’d like to share with your Operatives…
benevolent wines/terroir elegant
reaping another harvest here in
this fat land we have w/one
solitary buddha after another
some sitting solely breathing
in and out ancient as it may be in
terms of time
they say life is suffering.
Roots in search of flavor in the soil
touched occasionally by these hands
of ours live and awake
they find a pocket in the crack of
otherwise solid rock
- WR Hawley
from “across purpose”
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Mt. Veeder Appellation in Napa can be seen in this satellite photo.