2011 may have been one of California’s coldest vintages in the past 120 years but it could not stop one of the world’s hottest winemakers. Stephane Derenoncourt produced a magical lineup of wines from his favorite vineyards in this very ‘Un-Californian’ 2011 vintage and none may be more exciting than his Sonoma Valley Charlie Smith vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Charlie Smith vineyard is perched high above the fog line in the Sonoma Mountains. The private hidden road twists and turns 1800 feet in elevation through thick brush and massive trees to reach this gorgeous site. Phil Coturri, Sonoma’s ‘Godfather of Biodynamic Farming’, performs some of his best work with these precious rows of steeply terraced vines.

Our low yielding parcel sits at the crown of the vineyard with maximum sun exposure. Glossy purple in color, Bordeaux-like aromas of pencil lead, scorched earth, and mushroom lead to a muscular palate that delivers endless flavors of earthy blackberry, melted licorice, and chocolate dipped black cherry. Powerful fruit driven flavors endure through the long finish and are complemented by nuances of white pepper, worn leather, and grilled herbs. The wine has the balance to drink beautifully today but also the power and structure to evolve beautifully for another 10-12 years.