Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bond Estates: Philosophy, Viticulture, and Viniculture

"Bond is our covenant with select vineyard estates and shred commitment to produce only the best expression of the land." So says the Bond mission/vision statement and the product of this covenant has been five terroir-specific Cabernet Sauvignon wines:

  • Melbury -- from northeast of Rutherford
  • St. Eden -- from north of Oakville
  • Vecina -- from west of Oakville
  • Pluribus -- from west of Calistoga
  • Quella -- the newest of the bunch; from north of Rutherford

In this post we will examine the winemaking philosophy and the practices employed in the production of these wines. The material presented herein draws heavily on the talk given by Paul Roberts, Bond Estate Manager, to attendees at the Bond Estates tasting on March 4th.

Bill Harlan, the driving force behind Bond Estates, thinks of Napa in terms of the French appellation system: Villages; Premier Crus; and Grand Crus. Harlan thinks that they have found and exploited five of the possible 25 Napa Grand Cru sites in the production of their wines.

The winemaking team will not bring a wine to market before engaging in extensive experimentation and testing. A wine will undergo a minimum of three years experimentation before a vintage is released.

The Bond vineyard manager is Mary Hall and she supervises a staff of 55 year-round employees. Each site averages 8 acres in size and vineyard production is approximately 2 to 2.5 acres per ton. Only the best grapes make it into the wine. The grapes are picked on one of up to 15 picker passes through the vineyard and only perfect fruit is picked on each pass. The grapes are double sorted, once in the vineyard and then again at the sorting table.

The goal of the venture is to ensure that differences between the wines are a reflection of the differences in terroir so, to the extent possible, winemaking procedures are the same for all of the Bond wines. Fifty percent of the vinified juice goes into the Bond wines and the remainder is blended into Matriarch, a label designed for early drinking.

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