The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed and crushed, and each vineyard lot is maintained separately. Fermentation is initiated with selected yeasts in stainless steel tanks, and during the initial stages the fermenting juice is drained off the skins and then returned to the tank. This process, called "rack and return," greatly reduces the wine's astringency by stimulating the formation of phenolics which soften the tannins while deepening the color. During fermentation, the wine is constantly tasted to determine the optimum moment when it should be pressed from the skins. Depending on the vintage, the wine may remain in contact with the skins after the completion of the alcoholic fermentation for up to four weeks until extraction is perfect. It is then pressed and returned to tank for full malolactic fermentation. Once the malolactic fermentation is complete, the wine is racked into French oak barrels selected to best enhance the wine's style, of which 60 to 80 percent are new and the balance of one year's use, for a period of 24 to 26 months.
Connoisseurs' Guide to California WinesRating: 90/100 - As reviewed by Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wines on Aug-06.
Wine SpectatorRating: 89/100 - As reviewed by Wine Spectator on 05/15/04.