2015 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Star Lane Vineyard
2015 brought some dramatic yield differences from recent vintages. After plentiful yields in 2012-2014, the vines seemed content with producing fewer clusters. Then in May, we experienced one of the coldest weather patterns in over a decade during flowering, reducing the amount of berries that set. Therefore yields were very low. The season progressed fairly normally if being early like the previous drought-driven vintages. The vintage will be known for several heat spells from mid-September into October, therefore the vintage was concentrated, fresh, and limited.
2015 was a challenging year for Star Lane red wines. Along with cool temperatures in May, the persistent drought began to take its toll on yields. While that in itself can be a positive, consecutive heat spells in late September and early October impacted the vine's physiology significantly. As a result, Cabernet Sauvignon that was harvested after the 3rd heat spell wanted for structure, though depth was excellent. We elected to extend macerations on many of our later ripening blocks to improve the tannin concentration of the finish. While risking edgy and rougher tannin, we felt it critical to framing the finish with enhanced suppleness which would have been otherwise lost due to extreme heat. Increasing new oak percentages actually balanced some of this tannin by improving the richness of the mid-palate. Finally, reduced yields and stricter selections led to very low production, only 40% of normal. While the production numbers are painful, we are pleased with the result and look forward to seeing how this vintage develops alongside its predecessors for years to come.
80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petite Verdot, 6% Merlot, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc
The backbone of these aromatics are what we've come to appreciate about Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon: dark fruits with layers of fresh herbs like sage, anise, and floral notes. However 2015 leans a bit sweeter than recent vintages with ripe red fruits and cassis pushing forward. Perhaps an impact of more new oak, perhaps the vintage. Either way, very pleasant. The texture enters somewhat broad and fruit forward suggesting elegance over power. Yet as the middle appears it shows a lovely if serious weightiness that feeds a tense finish. The tannin used to frame the length, a product - no doubt - of extended maceration, are apparent but not obtuse and suggest good aging to come.