Inspired by the Best
Bibiana racking Cabernet Sauvignon at Château Haut-Brion in 2003 (left). Bibiana tasting Meeting with the Mentor at Cattleya winery early this year (right).
When I set out to master the craft of winemaking, I had the privilege to apprentice at one of the most distinguished wineries in the world of wine. In 2003, as part of my thesis investigating the relationship between berry size and tannin structure, I spent six months interning at Château Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion. It was such a stellar introduction to the making of a wine, always with the expectation of crafting wine with perfection in mind.
I was very happy to be learning from the winemaking team, responsible for the farming of vineyards with high-quality fruit year after year. The period I spent in France was exceptional in every way. I felt inspired to be working at a place that farms one of the world’s most celebrated vineyards. It was thrilling to be in the vineyard alongside such excellent fruit and to observe the close eyes everyone kept on the grapes. Tasting them and measuring their composition was particularly enjoyable for me. Then, too, I was able to witness the meticulous and disciplined way the team collects data. I was mesmerized by the power of data collected century after century, while allowing each vintage to bring its marker on each wine.
In the end I learned a great deal about what it takes to make extraordinary wine. Whether they were working during years in which weather conditions were excellent or particularly challenging, the team at Haut Brion aimed not for excellent wine, but for perfection. Their assumption, one that I left France with and maintain for myself in California, is that it is best to master something before you set out to engage in it fulltime.
Which is why it has taken me seventeen years to begin crafting Cabernet myself, and why I am so excited to be releasing Cattleya Wines 2018 Meeting with the Mentor. I waited, that is, until after I had worked as a consultant for Jayson Pahlmeyer at Pahlmeyer Napa Valley Wines–waited until the wines I crafted at Pahlmeyer Winery earned not one but two 100 point perfect scores with the 2016 vintage. After achieving this success, I can now announce my own illustration of a single origin, terroir driven, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. With the 2018 vintage, I hope I have translated what I learned in France from vintners who routinely assume flawlessness as their point of departure in my own bottle of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Meeting with the Mentor is sourced from the Nathan Coombs Vineyard, a Coombsville AVA site which is named for Napa’s founder and located at the foot of the Vaca Mountains in the southeastern portion of Napa Valley. This part of the AVA is in close proximity to San Pablo Bay and is known for both its volcanic soils and cool climate.
I am thrilled to have created my first Cabernet from this distinguished vineyard. A limited, one-year only edition, it is a deep, exciting, and complex wine in which “Blue fruits, cassis, tobacco, spring flowers, and a hint of menthol” interweave to create a Cabernet Jeb Dunnuck calls so “full-bodied” and “concentrated” that “you’d never know… it’s brought up in all new oak.”
I am delighted to provide you with the story of this wine, of which only 150 cases were crafted. Enjoy it!