2017 Right Bank Red
92 pts - Wine Advocate
A feature that originally attracted Founders Chris James and Ames Morison to the Bell Mountain Estate was the broad range of topography, soils, and micro-climates on the ranch. Following the ancient French practice of matching a particular variety to the appropriate soil type, they identified certain sections of the ranch with heavier clay soil as best adapted to Cabernet Franc, while the gravelly, well drained soils work best for the slower ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. This careful matching of variety to site conditions corresponds to the varietal selection used in Bordeaux. The eastern, or right, bank of the Gironde River in Bordeaux has a higher clay content and is largely planted to Cabernet Franc, while the sections with a higher percentage of gravel are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. Early in their winemaking career, Chris and Ames visited the town of St. Emilion in Bordeaux’s right bank and fell in love with the powerful, floral, and seductive wines produced there. Right Bank is a tribute to those wines.
The 2017 Right Bank reveals its fruit driven character and wild, untamed spirit. Aromas of bing cherries and sun-ripened strawberrie are bound together with new leather and tobacco leaf. On the palate, bright acidity and bigger tannins provide a framework to show even more fruit with hints of tobacco. This youthful wine has years of aging potential.
2017 was a year of extremes. The winter gave us twice our normal rainfall ending a five-year drought. The summer then came on with more scorchers than we care to count (16 days over 100 degrees!) The season ended with the most devastating fire in California’s history. We hope to never see a year like this one again. Despite the challenging growing conditions, the extremes ripened the grapes in magical ways allowing us to make some of our greatest wines – bright and aromatic whites and rosé plus supple, concentrated reds. As with everything in winemaking, and farming in general, timing was key. Knowing when to pick (and being lucky!) made all the difference.