2009 Ty Caton Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Mission Codename: The Ty Who Loved Me

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Ty Caton Vineyards to retrieve Ty’s delicious 2009 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Ty Caton Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2009 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Ty Caton

Backgrounder: The Sonoma Valley AVA is one of the oldest wine growing regions in California with the first vines being planted in the early 1800s. The AVA is located along California Route 12 and its eastern boundary are the southern end of the Mayacamas mountains. The unique micro-climate with less rainfall and fog than other parts of the region along with its unique soil provides ideal growing conditions for Zinfandel and especially Cabernet Sauvignon. Today’s wine is, in a word, delicious! Today’s wine destroys the myth that Napa Cabs are the wines to be reckoned with! Do your own debunking, with today’s boldly delicious wine.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – The body of the wine shows dark hues of black cherry juice. At the core of the wine, color darkens considerably, turning to the color of dark purple plum skin. At the edges, ruby hues shimmer in the light. After a good swirl, skinny, wine-stained legs move slowly down the glass.

Smell – Dark and layered, with big dark plum, black cherry and blackberry right at the fore. These mix with Bing cherry, dark earth, cassis, limestone, cedar, subtle tomato vine and vanilla extract.

Feel – Medium-bold in intensity, with a plush up-front feel. Youthful tannins add a fine edge at the mid-palate. As the wine settles in, a soft dryness encroaches, leaving an earthy minerality.

Taste – Plum, dark cherry, blackberry and dried cranberry initially, yielding to dark spice, stewed fig and roasted plum, with cedar, black pepper and limestone. The spice and a bright acidity dance with black pepper, to enhance the fruit flavors of the wine.

Finish – Mouthwatering and bright, this wine morphs on the palate, from sweet and fruity to softly tart and dark. The wine finishes medium-long and clean, with integrated flavors that linger, eventually ending with a black pepper spice and dark minerals.

Conclusion – We have been showcasing Ty Caton’s fantastic Estate-grown wines since 2007. In that time, we have never been anything but impressed with Ty’s wines. When we were offered today’s 2009 Caton Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon we were mindful of the youth of the wine – but decided to put it through its paces. It impressed us with just how much fruit the wine shows. While youthful and bright, the wine is not as angular – or sharp-edged – as some 2007’s and 2008’s we have been sampling. We think that this wine is ready to be enjoyed now, but that it will really progress beautifully for the next 7 years or more. This wine certainly evolves as you spend time with it, so swirl away – and give it time to open up. Your patience will reward you with better depth, better fruit flavors and deeper aromas. Winemaker/grower, Ty Caton, shows off his experience and the knowledge of his vineyards with today’s selection, offering up a wine that turned out to be really fun to drink and discuss. Pair this flexible wine with your favorite fowl or red meat dishes – or enjoy it all on its own.

Mission Report:



WINE EDUCATION: Various classes at UC Davis, most importantly on the job training.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Minimal intervention – our goal is to let the grapes tell their own story without intervening

WINEMAKER QUOTE: Actively Seeking Excellence



AGENT RED: Greetings, Ty. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

TY: Thanks, Agent Red. It’s great to be back with you!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

TY: Wine tasting in Napa with my cousins.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

TY: Peter Mathis of Ravenswood

RED: Who do you make wine for?

TY: I’m a pleaser by nature – I enjoy entertaining people and wine is intricate part of the socialization process, which I love!

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

TY: This 2009 Estate Cabernet is from our hillside vineyards in the Mayacamas Mountain range in Sonoma Valley. It is 100% Cabernet. We are about 1000 feet in elevation. Our 40 acres of grapes are spread out over 107 acre ranch. As such, each vineyard has different soil types, sun exposure, clones, incline, and elevation. As a result, all of the small lots are very distinctive. This estate Cabernet is a result of the blending of these various vineyard sites.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

TY: This Cabernet has steak written all over it. It’s a beautiful wine.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Sonoma Valley so special?

TY: Sonoma Valley is such a diverse growing region. Depending on where we are in the valley, we can grow just about any grape. Up where I am in the mountains, it would be a shame not to grow Cabernet. We are definitely in Cab country. We have, depending on the area, sometimes 3-4 feet of volcanic soil so the vines really need to work hard to grow and extract all the minerals and nutrients from the soil. The result is a smaller crop, smaller, looser berries, and concentrated flavors. Grape vines are kind of like people, the more pressure you put them under, the better they perform.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

TY: Hospitality! We are getting ready for a great upcoming season. Come visit us in our tasting room in Kenwood in the Kenwood Village Plaza or call to make an appt at the winery where we can do barrel tasting as well. In terms of winemaking, we are topping the wines and will do a good racking in late spring.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

TY: These wines are somewhat of a cross over – they can be sipped by themselves or enjoyed with a meal.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

TY: Our vineyard grapes are grown certified sustainable through Farming For Flavors grape growing program.

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!

TY:Thanks, Agent Red!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Ty Caton Vineyards & winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

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