Thursday, April 17, 2014

Vellum 2010: The Waiting Game

I wanted to touch on the recent critical success that we have had with the 2010 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2010 Vellum Black, and look back on the vintage that many claim to be the best Napa Valley has had in recent years. However, I changed my mind! What the critics think is fine, but what everyone else, who has actually purchased our wine thinks is far more important to me. So, I thought is best to offer some tips on how to best enjoy your acquisitions!

In the vineyard, we develop Vellum wines for a signature of fresh aromas of strong cassis, bright deep fruit and summer bramble all combined and tightly wound around each other. These characteristics make for a brooding and resolutely powerful wine, so they need to be approached in a way to best display their virtues.

I frequently mumble to myself how the wine is not ready to drink even a year or two past bottling.  Sometimes this fact gets out to others. I don’t mean to do this, so what I should say is that the wine will keep getting better.  You can enjoy the wine now, but with my assurance, it will continue to improve with age.

When we make any Vellum wine we do so in the presence of very little oxygen and we extract an abundance of tannin. All of our wines are driven by a higher quantity of skin rather than seed or oak tannin. Skin tannin is inherently condensed in small chains and pieces and lacks the immediate presence of oxygen to broaden it and space out. To compound the condition, Vellum has a higher quantity of this tannin, but it is bottled in an environment of extremely low oxygen to preserve the wine.

By the time the bottle gets to you, it is understood that there can be a temptation to open it - -resist this!  We feel that long term aging of these wines (even the Vellum White!) can extend out twenty years. From a numbers point of view, this is a realistic milestone, however if you really cannot help yourself then get two bottles, put one away and acquire temporary amnesia. Years later it will prove itself a worthy find!

With the other bottle, the best way to enjoy it now is to decant it, and let it sit for about a half an hour. Then, against all sensible reason, pour the wine back into the bottle,cork it and plan to drink it the next day! This perhaps will come as a shock to many, but it works, and you will reap the benefits of planning and patience!

Good wines you can drink anytime. They are built that way, but they are not going to be too generous or forgiving. However, the great wines are like great friends! They will do anything for you, they want to do it right, and will they keep giving. Such wines need to move around to get everything into place. They need air and time - if you can spare both?

Right now I am drinking our current release of the 2010 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon on day three. The wine still is vibrant and fresh, tannins are in a perfect position to contribute a wonderful richness and the adroit depth of this wine shines through with surprising ease to a broad finish. This is how I drink Vellum. Its a waiting game but one worth waiting for…

Please open any of our wines now and try for this yourself. We would love to know your thoughts!

- Karl Lehmann, Vellum Winemaker

Monday, April 7, 2014

Vellum on the map

California is home to some of the greatest wines on earth, mostly because of its varied climate, hundreds of soil variations, and its pioneer spirit.  Vellum continues to pave its own path and has been recognized among the wineries in the Napa region on this beautiful map.  While there are bountiful choices for wineries in Napa, we hope you'll start your next journey in wine country with us.  Credit:  Pop Chart Lab (

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