2018 Right Bank Red
92 pts Jeb Dunnuck; 92 pts James Suckling; 90 pts Wine Enthusiast
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.
Our 2018 Right Bank Red is an untamed spirited wine. Primarily comprised of Cabernet Franc, this wine expresses ample amounts of black fruits, cassis, and pomegranate on the nose. Tobacco leaf, espresso, and licorice are balanced by a lively acidity and long structured finish on the palate.
The winter gave us less rainfall than normal. Almost all of the precipitation came in the early spring so the vineyard had a full profile of water to start the growing season. We saw good early growth, a few warm periods, but no severe heat spikes. The key ripening period in late summer and early fall was cool and sunny, delaying harvest by a week but allowing full flavor development. We were blessed with a vintage we always dream about: abundant fruit of excellent quality.