2017 Continuum Proprietary Red Sage Mountain Vineyard

Year: 2017
Appellation: Oakville, Napa Valley
Country: USA - California
Wine Spectator: 94
Wine Advocate: 97+
Vinous Media: 96+
James Suckling: 98
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.9%
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64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot

"Lovely, offering a pure, polished set of açaí berry, cassis and blueberry flavors that move in lockstep, backed by subtle tobacco, licorice snap and alder notes. Shows latent length, with the fruit persisting without bombast. Features a long, buried iron edge. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot. Best from 2022 through 2036. 3,000 cases made. -JM" (WS)

"A blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 9% Petit Verdot and 9% Merlot, the deep garnet-purple 2017 Proprietary Red soars out of the glass with notions of baked blueberries, plum preserves and blackcurrant cordial, backed up by nuances of chocolate mint, wild sage, violets and pencil shavings, plus an earthy hint of Chinese five spice. The rich, seductive, full-bodied palate is jam-packed with spicy black fruit preserves, framed by wonderfully plush tannins and a lively backbone, finishing long and opulent." (WA)

"The 2017 Proprietary Red Wine Sage Mountain Vineyard comes across as remarkably primary. Bright red-toned fruit and floral notes give the 2017 striking freshness as well as nuance. Deep and layered on the palate, with superb depth, the 2017 Continuum is easily one of the wines of the year. Even in the early going, it is truly magnificent." (VM)

"Wonderful blackberry and blackcurrant aromas here with hints of mint and fresh sage. Some cassis. Wrought iron, too. Full-bodied, tight and elegant with lovely tension. Beautiful. Ends fine and focused. Drinkable now, but better after 2022." (JS)

Winery Notes:
The 2017 vintage was one of extremes. One of the wettest years on record, the abundant rain that fell from October 2016 through spring of 2017 single-handedly broke the California drought. This resulted in wetter soils and cooler temperatures that pushed budbreak back to March 30th. An unusual hail storm event moved through in June, with a mild “natural thinning” of the crop, but no lasting negative impact on the vine. Temperatures through the growing season followed this “extreme” pattern, with 12 days reaching above 100 degrees. An extended heat wave between August 26th and September 3rd lasted 9 days. During this time, higher daytime temperatures were moderated through the elevation at our Sage Mountain Vineyard, keeping us up to 10 degrees cooler than average valley floor temperatures. The vines were resilient, and the fruit rebounded when temperatures cooled, allowing us to wait for ideal ripeness. Harvest commenced September 20th.

On October 8th, wildland fires broke out and encircled the Napa Valley. At this time, two thirds of our fruit was safely in cellar. When access to the property was deemed safe, the remaining one third of the fruit was harvested and then kept separately for evaluation. While lab results indicated the smoke taint to be below perceivable thresholds, our tasting showed it still gave negative influences to the tannins and finish. The decision was made to not use one drop of wine that was harvested after the fire began. The wine harvested before the fires benefitted from the many safeguards built into the estate winery such as generators and tank-dedicated pumps and temperature control systems that ensured each and every tank received uninterrupted care and tending throughout this turbulent period.

Continuum is estate grown on our Sage Mountain Vineyard. It’s location, high on Pritchard Hill along the eastern ridge above Oakville, overlooks Napa Valley and the San Francisco Bay. 38 acres of mature estate vineyard, planted in 1991 and 1996, with additional plantings in 2004 and 2010, together comprise 38 distinct vineyard blocks. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot are grown from 1300 to 1600 feet in elevation, on western and southern facing aspects with slight northern and eastern slopes in places. This diversity of plantings on our volcanic soils are the essence of the complexity of Continuum.

Continuum is 100% estate grown, produced and bottled. All fruit was selectively hand-harvested at night. The fruit was then sorted before and after de-stemming, and gravity fed into French oak or concrete tanks. A three-day cold soak was followed by fermentation, receiving three to four pumpovers daily, and délestage two to three times in total during the most active period. The wine remained on skins in tank for 20 to 40 days. All lots were then drained, basket pressed, and transferred with lees into two third’s new and one third once used French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and aging. A single concrete amphora was also used for aging. Each vineyard lot was tasted and carefully considered many times when assembling the 2017 blend. The wine clarified slowly and settled naturally in our cold barrel room, was racked sparingly and bottled without fining or filtration. The 2017 Continuum spent a total of 20 months in barrel.

A testament in resiliency, 2017 Continuum bears the hallmarks of the elevation and terroir at Sage Mountain Vineyard, showcasing exquisite vibrancy, many layers of flavor, ferrous minerality and fragrant wild herb notes. The vintage shows freshness, hinting at rose petal on the nose and a brambleberry fruit profile on the palate. Cacao, black cherry and red plum give a plush, silky mid palate tying in seamlessly with fine tannins of crushed stone and subtle undertones of tapenade. The layered, bright and persistent finish indicates a long life ahead.

For the fullest sensory experience we encourage decanting to allow the wine to breathe before serving. Decanting awakens the wine’s more purely fragrant expression and enhances the suppleness of the palate. Continuum is accessible and enjoyable upon release; however extended aging will be richly rewarded