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The Grapevine » Conversations in the Cellar: Small-Lot Winemaking Elevated at Herzog Wine Cellars

Conversations in the Cellar: Small-Lot Winemaking Elevated at Herzog Wine Cellars

With the last two consecutive years boasting limited Single Vineyard releases, including a Cabernet Sauvignon from the renowned To Kalon Vineyard in Napa, Herzog Wine Cellars continues to take small-lot winemaking extremely seriously. Though perhaps a slightly overused term, ‘small-lot winemaking’ can mean different things to different winemakers. In a facility that is well-equipped to produce quite large quantities of wine, winemaker Joe Hurliman has also found a way to create a very focused, very high-end, small production output of wines. “The most exciting aspect to me is really allowing the wine to evolve freely – to let the wine ‘speak’ and shape the process,” says Hurliman. “It’s really a conversation to me, between myself and the grapes.” And the wines are speaking indeed – the 2006 To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon was dubbed ‘the first cult kosher Cabernet’ by the Wine Spectator, and the recently released Clone No. Six Cabernet from Chalk Hill received 93 points from prominent Israeli wine critic, Daniel Rogov.

The Single Vineyard collection is inspired by Herzog’s ongoing commitment to sourcing and prospecting new vineyards, and to exploring the intricacies of terroir. The land, the climate, the techniques – all of these aspects are closely examined through the lens of small-lot winemaking. This vineyard-centric winemaking is also a chance for Hurliman and Herzog to really connect with their customers. “Our goal is to create the finest wines, while providing our customers a better understanding of the winemaking process and what it means to us.”

Some of these recent releases include:

2007 Herzog Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Haystack Peak Vineyards, Atlas Peak (320 cases produced, $125)

For this project, Hurliman moved far abo ve the Napa Valley floor to work with mountain grapes grown in a small vineyard near the top of Atlas Peak. Haystack Peak Vineyards was planted in the early 1990’s and is owned by Marlene Cerchi and her husband, UC Davis professor Art Havenner, both of whom work the land with their own hands. The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from this special site currently go into the wines of renowned Napa winemaker Robert Foley (who makes Pride, Hourglass, Switchback Ridge and his own eponymous wines). Clearly, the site

offers significant terroir.

2007 Herzog Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone No. Six, Chalk Hill (188 cases produced, $140)

Virtually all wine grape types have multiple variations that produce characteristics differing from the original. Certain clones may produce distinctly different wine aromas and flavors, and the best wines from a particular variety often come from smaller-berried clones. Our Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Chalk Hill, Clone Six is one such example, showcasing extremely small berries, loose clusters, and highly concentrated flavors. It also has an amazing history that dates back over a century. Considered to be a winemaker’s dream, Clone Six is the pinnacle of the varietal, showcasing superior traits and highly concentrated flavors. Our Clone Six Cabernet boasts bold blackberry flavors, backed by subtle anise and herbaceous notes. Aged in two different types of brand new French oak, warm vanilla and sugar cookie nuances balance the bold structure and add a long, lush finish. The full-bodied structure of this wine will allow for cellaring for 10-15 yrs.

The ‘art of the vineyard’ continues with two lots of Cabernet Sauvignon currently in the cellar – one from Sonoma County and one from Oaknoll in Napa. These will be released within the next year.

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