Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In review: VELLUM 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon



I recently revisited and tasted the 2011 VELLUM Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, and it has developed into something unexpected and extraordinary!  Known for the unseasonably cool and damper temperatures, many thought that the 2011 vintage did not allow for the full development of the varietal.  However, all things considered, when others were spelling doom and gloom for the year  -  I suspected otherwise.   Some time ago I had tipped this wine for greatness as it first hit the barrels.   It turns out that I was right in my wager!

As it has been known, VELLUM has received its highest accolades to date for the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon.   Many were left asking why or how this was possible in the face of what we were up against?   Simply, the cooler overall temperature and periodic rain lead to stratified complexity, uncommon flavours, and terrific depth in the wine.   Each acutely defined and each still developing.

If one were to sit down to enjoy great Bordeaux there may be little or no difference from this memorable vintage.   When Napa Valley has such a rare blessing in disguise it takes a little educated foresight, blended with some hopeful prognostication to see the meaning of what has happened. Napa Valley in fact, had a Bordeaux year!   The lack of warm temperate conditions was indeed rare for the region.

The last time this happened was 1998; which saw a cool temperatures and rain in the middle growing season.   Knee jerk myopia issued a response from those with a well-placed voice.   Many unfortunately listened, and the vintage was downplayed, even somewhat trodden on against the much praised 1997 vintage at the time.

However, the long term consensus brought about a marked change. The 1998 in many ways trumped the 1997 for style, depth, length and overall interest.   In the end, justice was done, but fast forward to 2011 and a similar set of conditions   –  history forgotten.   Only a seldom few old guard commenters have not realized that such chance years yield unrivaled greatness!

Let the 2011 VELLUM Cabernet Sauvignon be a reminder of the virtues an unseasonable vintage can bring!

-Karl Lehmann, Winemaker