After a somewhat dry winter, budbreak on March 18th marked an early start of the growing season at Promontory. The year continued with consistency; summer was warm and even, devoid of cold extremes, and with no days that exceeded 100°F. After the earthquake on August 24th, seasonal creeks and streams that had long been dry began to flow once again. We noticed a subtle change in the vines, which grew more vibrant and youthful as autumn approached. While the rest of the valley was experiencing an early harvest, the cooler climate of the territory tempered the ripening process and set the stage for one of our longer growing seasons to date, second only to 2011. Harvest started slowly on September 10th in the higher-elevation, west-facing blocks and continued two weeks later with lower blocks planted on volcanic soil. Lastly, on October 11th we began picking Promontory’s east-facing blocks planted on metamorphic soil. As has become customary, given the diversity of the territory, nearly 52 harvest passes were made, resulting in 33 distinct fermentations. During vinification the extraction came gently, yielding wines with lively acidity and depth of character.
The appearance is deep red with a brilliant reflection along the rim. On the nose, hints of graphite, wet stone, and fresh spices interplay with a fruit component that brings notes of fresh, dark berries, notably cassis. The wine begins with precision and tension, as mineral acidity drives linearly from the front to the back of the palate. The tannins, gaining definition, are harmoniously integrated with the density and freshness of the fruit, creating a long and vibrant finale. Elegance and controlled strength are wrapped in the now-familiar structure of Promontory, resulting in a wine with an athletic balance that will drink beautifully over the next 50-plus years.
Only four inches of rain had fallen from January until the first week in April, when budbreak occurred. While the 2013 vintage will be remembered as an early year, here at Promontory harvest didn’t begin until late September due to the cool air and frequent fog that circulate within the territory. Yields were smaller than average, and ripeness was reached within ideal and measured conditions - allowing us to capture the essence of each block without haste. We harvested the first blocks on September 25th starting with the western ridge, then continued on to the east facing slopes of metamorphic formations and ended October 15th with the lower volcanic blocks. Due to the complexity of soil, exposure, and elevation, nearly 42 passes were made resulting in 30 distinct vinifications. These aged independently in barrel for almost a year before blending, and then entered the large Austrian oak casks to finish aging over the next few years. The solid core of the final blend retained a characteristic levity that we have come to find familiar.
Aromas are diverse and complex, with no single primary scent standing above the rest. Some of the more subtle facets are beginning to surface: wet stone, graphite, leather, and fresh spices. Brighter notes create a tension in the nose that then transfers to the palate. In the beginning it is gentle and silky, developing slowly and purposefully into a synthesis of minerality, freshness, and vibrancy. The wine shows its potential for aging with a balance of structure and lightness, as well as a latent potential only to be revealed with time.
Growing SeasonBudbreak on April 18th marked the beginning of an idyllic growing season. The weather was warm throughout the year, but without spells of extreme heat. While most of Napa Valley experienced an earlier harvest, the cooler climate of the territory provided a much more typical ripening pattern. Due to even ripening, the harvest period was compressed to fifteen days as opposed to the normal twenty to thirty in past vintages. Picking began on October 12th along the western ridge and continued a few days later with the low lying blocks on volcanic soil. The east-facing slopes followed, and harvest concluded on October 26th. As has become customary with the diversity of the territory, forty-six harvest passes were made resulting in nearly thirty distinct vinifications. After a year of aging, the selection for the final blend was made. The consistency of quality was a theme, but ultimately the lots that were chosen reflected both the power of the vintage and the restraint of the territory’s more temperate environs.
Tasting NotesA rich garnet color and youthful brilliance define the appearance in glass. As is typical with the youthful wines of Promontory, the nose is subtle yet intricate. Several minutes after pouring, the different facets begin to emerge. Though one might discern distinct aromas of wet stone, cassis, and hints of resin, the nose seems to more appropriately transport one to the place itself. There is a feeling of moist fog, bringing both humidity and the scents of the native landscape, while projecting in the mind’s eye a vision of sunlight without heat. On the palate, this vintage is decidedly forward. The acidity is forthcoming on entry and balanced by the sheer muscle and density of fruit. The tannins have a chiseled definition, but remain soft and pliant, delivering a long and persistent finish. While the 2012 reveals its precocious virtues, it is unable to hide the underlying truth that patience will provide great reward.
Growing SeasonBudbreak at Promontory began in the second week of April. The season progressed at a slow but deliberate pace, with veraison occurring in late August and early September. While most of the valley experienced rain followed by weeks of thick fog, Promontory - perched just above - continued to receive the warmth of the autumn sun along with the constant breeze that naturally stirs within the property. These two elements created ideal ripening conditions, and allowed for patience in determining the moment of harvest. Picking began with the upper ridges in late October and concluded with the lower hillsides in the first week of November. Due to the diversity of soil, exposure, and elevation, over fifty individual harvest passes were made, translating into thirty separate vinifications in the winery. Careful selection was made at the time of blending, in order to discern the parcels that would most purely express the character of the land. With each progressive month of aging the wine has continued to add layers of depth and richness. We believe that not only is this an exemplary example of the 2011 vintage, but that it is truly the best representation of Promontory that we have offered to date.
Tasting NotesDeep red and brooding describes both the appearance and nature of the wine. The 2011 vintage bears the most extroverted aromatics of Promontory to date, with notes that range from coffee, black truffle, wet stones, and the smell of warm earth after a rainfall. The wine is classically juicy on entry as the acidity dances in the front of the mouth. It possesses great density but demonstrates a degree of clarity and intention as it touches the mid-palate. This is followed, by a very fine quality of tannin, not yet experienced in the prior vintages. The 2011 is undoubtedly youthful, but with gentle decanting it can bestow more pleasure at the moment than any vintage yet. However approachable this wine may be, we are convinced that its mysterious facets will continue to be revealed in the decades to come.
Growing SeasonThe first week of April marked the beginning of a long budbreak that didn’t conclude until April 17th. This was followed by one of the coolest growing seasons in over a decade. Fortunately, there was not an over-abundance of rain in the period from bloom to harvest, allowing for a very balanced and even ripening season. Harvest began on October 2nd with the highest elevations first. Over the next 25 days, we were able to pick each block deliberately at its moment of ripeness. When all was said and done, we had identified and brought in 70 sovereign areas. In the cellar these became 30 distinct fermentations which, once complete, were aged separately for one year before blending. Ultimately twenty-one of those were selected to represent the virtues of the 2010 vintage. Together in concert we believe they harmonize the multi-faceted nature of Promontory’s character.
Tasting NotesThe appearance is deep violet in color and brilliant along the meniscus. The nose, full of subtlety, carries notes from dark bramble fruits, graphite, wet stones, to an array of extremely fresh spices. Vibrant acidity defines the entry; this nerve is intertwined through a fleshy and dense mid-palate, evoking an impression of juiciness that is resonant through to the finish. The tannins are perhaps the most detailed part of the wine. They have richness and volume, yet you can perceive the individuality of each fine grain, almost as if it were chiseled apart from the whole. Though intensely enjoyable now with five years of age, this wine has a very long life ahead. Its precise balance of acidity, tannin and fruit would seem to render it immortal. We expect that it should drink beautifully over the next 50+ years.
Growing SeasonBudbreak began in the first week of April. The season progressed evenly with very few heat spells and nearly ideal conditions during ripening. Harvest commenced in late September with the western-facing upper elevations ripening first. Next were the lower elevations on western exposures, followed by the east-facing mid-slopes that were gathered by the middle of October. All told, nearly 68 distinct harvest passes were made in order to capture each parcel at its optimum expression. These multiple passes resulted in over 40 individual vinifications. One year later, at blending, only twenty-one of those lots were selected in assembling the final blend. We believe the result captures the symphony of Promontory’s character within the context of the 2009 growing season.
Tasting NotesDeep, dark red in appearance. On the nose, notes of black berries dominate with slight hints of smoke, wet stones, tobacco and dried herbs. On the palate the wine has an intense energy, filling the front of the palate with a subtle minerality. The middle palate displays multiple layers of flesh with a crescendo of flavor and tannins that recede slowly, leaving an impression of extremely fine-grained, youthful tannins. The finish is persistent on the palate and it becomes more and more refined as it fades. Though generous at the moment, the 2009 shows great poise and the classic proportion to age gracefully for the next 30+ years.