2010 Ty Caton Carlton Brook Petit Verdot

Mission Codename: Bold Elegance

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: For our Elite Operatives, return to Ty Caton Vineyards, and retrieve Ty’s stellar, limited-production, fantastically delicious, Petite Verdot

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Ty Caton Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2010 Carlton Brooke Petite Verdot – Sandy Brooke Vineyards

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 red wine varietals.

Petit Verdot is perhaps most famous as a secondary blending grape for the great wines of Bordeaux. Its intrinsic value is that it adds balance, mid palate structure and acidity to its blending brethren. When made into a 100% varietal wine, the late ripening Petit Verdot presents its own unique quality and character, producing wines of exceptional aroma, structure and flavor.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Intense and inky dark burgundy, in the glass, this wine shows deep and even coloration from core to edge. Swirl the wine and it glints with bright purple as light shines through. As the wine settles, tall columns of thin, wine-stained tears move slowly down the glass wall.

Smell – Deeply aromatic, with layer upon layer of lush fragrances that leap from the glass. This wine exudes dark cherry cordial, jammy blueberry, blackberry, dried flowers, and soft lavender. Just behind these, cigar box, earth, black cherry and hard leather follow.

Feel – Voluptuous and full, this wine instantly fills the palate, coating the tongue and spreading to the lips and cheeks. True to varietal character, plush tannins move a pleasing, slowly spreading dryness around the palate.

Taste – Ripe blackberry, cherry cordial and blueberry take the lead, quickly followed by dark cranberry, bramble, dried black rose petals, soft spice, supple leather, subtle anise and a tender hint of black pepper.

Finish – Ultra-long and very flavorful, with long-lingering black fruit that very gradually gives way to earthy flavors, soft minerals and softer pepper.

Conclusion – Prepare to be blown away! Today’s 2010 Carlton Brooke Petite Verdot, from our friend Ty Caton, is an extraordinary P.V. In fact, I declare this wine to be the best Petite Verdot I have personally reviewed for these pages. This big, bold, beauty has its own finesse and poise, delivering an elegant drinking experience. Bold Elegance may seem contradictory, but this wine pulls it off. Bold, delicious flavors are delivered onto the palate with a suppleness that will surprise you. Yes, there is plenty of tannin from the fruit (with just a hint from the toasty oak), but there is also so much genuine fruit flavor. If you love great Petite Verdot, you really love today’s exceptional offering from Ty Caton.

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 2010 Carlton Brooke Petit Verdot today. We always really love your wines, Ty, and today’s is really pretty spectacular.

TY: Thanks, Agent Red!

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 wine is made from a 2 acre vineyard behind my parents’ house. It’s the 3rd vintage from the property. Due to the extreme heat wave experienced in the late summer, coupled with the small young canopy, we only crushed 1.5 tons of grapes which yielded 117 cases of Petit Verdot.

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

TY: Anything, this is a great wine with food or sipped by itself.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Sonoma Valley such a special place for Petit Verdot?

TY: When I said I wanted to plant Petit Verdot, some said it wasn’t hot enough. I did it anyways, and we’ve had great success. Each vintage gets better. You can grow just about anything in Sonoma Valley, depending on the micro-climates.

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

TY: We just completed our first analysis and tasting of the 2011 wines and are topping the barrels right now. It was the most challenging year of my career, but we’ll be able to make very good wine from the 2011 vintage. We made the right decisions.

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 Red, for the opportunity!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

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

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