Cabernet Sauvignon, 1978 – Stephen Zellerbach

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | May 1982

If you have always dreamed about having your own piece of land for work; if you had an uncle who made a name in the wine world as well as the diplomatic world (David Zellerbach, former U.S. Ambassador to Rome; founded Hanzell Vineyards, Sonoma); surely you would sell your leasing company and buy vineyard land! That’s exactly what Stephen Zellerbach did! Other than his Zellerbach Paper Co. duties and a publishing house enterprise, he and his wife Cici manage their vineyard operation in the Alexander Valley. He has a bias for Cabernet and Merlot, and his present plantings are exclusively such. This is his first release. The wine was made by Bill Bagge, his winemaker, who uses locally borrowed winery facilities until the Zellerbach winery building is completed this year. First issues are not always spectacular, but this very first wine of Stephen Zellerbach Vineyards is a whopper for the price.

The noble grape of Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, has seen new homes and horizons which have threatened the dominance of the motherland. The infamous 1976 Paris tasting proved this. Other similar events are eroding away at the old lady. Bern Ramey in his ampleography says about Cabernet Sauvignon: ” unsurpassed in richness of flavor, intensity of bouquet, and longevity in the bottle, it has given American wines a position alongside the very great wines of the world”. The variations that exist in the French Cabernet wines due to the factors of soil, climate, winemaker technics and blending, also exist in the California Cabernet wines. Basically it is bold, somewhat tannic, characteristic green olives varietal flavor when young, and when aged in the bottle it develops fragrant flavor complexities and smoothness. The spectrum of variation is immense. It keeps the Cabernet fan constantly learning and asking for more.

Our wine is deep ruby color and opaque. It has a fragrant bouquet, with a fruity, peppery varietal aroma. Oak is detectable. The wine has a full body, with a mouthfull of intense flavor. Bold, dry, yet velvety, the fruit comes in the middle, and it finishes with wood ( will disappear on age ). Well structured and balanced. Serve at room temperature with robust red meat entrees, steaks, roasts, and when aged, with cheddar cheese after the meal.

Cellaring Notes: Will mellow and develop complexities for 10 years.

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