Our philosophy for making Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is inspired by the wines of Bordeaux, known for their balance and elegance. Cabernet grapes are the backbone of this wine (usually more than 94%), blended with small amounts of Malbec and Petit Verdot. We add Malbec for complexity and softness in the mid-palate, and Petit Verdot contributes a deep rich color. We make the Cabernet to be enjoyed when it’s released, but also know that it will age well for ten to fifteen years more.
Our focus is on elegance and finesse, not on richness, power and ripeness. We tend to pick our grapes earlier than most California wineries, which leads to a wine with lower alcohol and higher acidity. This lends itself to greater longevity and compatibility with food. This means tasting the fruit in the vineyard to determine when to pick. We look for the disappearance of green/hard flavors and the emergence of bright fruit and jammy components.
Alexander Valley has a longstanding tradition of Cabernet. It grows well here because of the climate – warm days and cool nights. We age our Cabernet in oak for 22 months in our wine caves, carefully monitoring the oak’s integration into the wine. Sweet vanilla and toast are classic descriptors of well-integrated oak. Bottled two years after its harvest, we age our Cabernet for an additional 2½ years, releasing it in February, in its fifth year.
When we release the Cabernet, the bouquet is fruit-dominated, often with notes of blackberries, cassis and cherries, and hints of dark chocolate, sweet vanilla and mint. The wine has all of the components to develop well. As it ages, the winemaking techniques come to the forefront and its youthful fruitiness dissipates. Older wines begin to have notes of violets, cigar box, briars and carpaccio; they are silky, velvety, supple in the mouth, less fruity. When enjoying older wines, we are reminded of that year’s events – it’s not just about what’s in the glass but also the memories of that time. (To read more about Cabernet aging, click here.)
One of the highlights for us as a winemaking family is enjoying the fruits of our labor. Now after more than 30 vintages, we regularly enjoy ten, fifteen, twenty year old Hafner Cabernets. We are both proud and pleased with the age-ability of our wines. This is why we regularly offer older vintages of Cabernet from our Wine Library throughout the year. (Shop options here.) If you are looking for a specific vintage and you don't find it available for sale, please feel free to call Scott (707-433-4606). He may just find it for you.