The structured profound power and density of the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is impressive. Like these others it was aged a full 24 months in 90% new French oak prior to being bottled. This is a big wine at 15.5% natural alcohol, but there is not a sense of overripeness or heat to it. Opaque purple with notes of licorice, incense, graphite, blackberry and blueberry, the wine hits the palate with a thunderous roar of fruit, glycerin and density. The tannins kick in in the back, as this is 2013 and the wine has serious structure and density, but also the fruit extract to hold up to that. Forget it for another 3-4 years and drink it over the following three decades.
This is a relatively small-production boutique winery producing about 500 cases per year of just one Cabernet Sauvignon made by the consulting guru Thomas Rivers Brown. He has certainly done an admirable job with the three vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon I tasted, all coming from the Cold Spring Vineyard planted at a 1,700-foot elevation on Howell Mountain
Few know the story behind the Aloft label. First designed in 2011 by Alycia Mondavi, the label includes hidden elements inspired by years of family farming. At first glance, the label depicts the rolling hills of Cold Springs Vineyard, found on the family’s Howell Mountain property. However, looking closely, one will find the head of a mountain lion and the outline of a snake imbedded within the vineyard scene.
Cold Springs is tucked away in a forest of tall pines and manzanita trees, the perfect sanctuary for a mother mountain lion and her two cubs. Living within close proximity to a neighborhood and after many family discussions, these wild and majestic cougars had to be safely relocated to a new home due to their territorial behavior, but still hold a special place in the Aloft story. In addition to the forested property, the rocky soil commonly found throughout Howell Mountain provides ideal drainage and desired homes for gopher snakes. These harmless snakes play a unique role in the family’s pledge to farm sustainably. Natural predators such as owls, bats, and snakes are welcomed to assist in pest and insect control. Farming practices also include cover cropping to supplement soil nutrients and manage erosion control as well as a sophisticated water conservation regime.
The 2013 Aloft is a superior example of the family’s continued commitment to protecting and preserving the land. Arguably the best vintage Napa Valley has seen in decades, the 2013 Aloft holds true to vintage expectations. The aromatics and palate parallel each other with an intensity of ripe blueberry, blackberry, black currant and black cherry. The wine shows further complexity with diverse flavors of dark chocolate, clove, black pepper, leather, tobacco and cigar. Although youthful, the 2013 portrays a tasteful balance between ripe fruit, bright acidity, and tannins. Cellar this wine for a few years and the lush tannins will continue to soften adding an additional dimension to this mountain Cabernet.