HDV Belle Cousine

Hyde de Villaine

2012
Los Carneros
Hyde de Villaine (HdV) Belle Cousine is a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blend from 22-year-old vines planted on the eastern edge of the Carneros District. Its name is a reference to Pamela Fairbanks de Villaine, Larry Hyde’s lovely cousin. It is Pamela who brings these visionary viticultural families from Burgundy and the Carneros region of Napa Valley together to make wines that express the character of place, with the rare minerality so dear to the Burgundian palate • Hyde Vineyard, at the eastern edge of Los Carneros District o Appellation: Los Carneros, Napa Valley o Size: 5.87 acres o Vine Age: 14 to 30 years o Soil: Shallow loam over clay hardpan o Exposure: South by southeast • Vintage Report o The drought cycle that started in 2012 continued in 2015. As a result, we experienced a warm dry winter and an early start of the vegetative cycle with bud break in February. In May, unseasonably cool weather caused poor pollination, resulting in concentrated fruit due to millerandage—small, seedless berries amid a few normal berries, creating the intensity and complexity in the juice. The summer was hot overall at Hyde Vineyard. Thanks to a few cool days in early August, the growing season was extended, allowing the grapes to reach great maturity. o Harvest Date(s): September 12 (Merlot); September 15 (Cabernet Sauvignon) • Vinification o Barrel Aging: 22 months; 30% new French oak o Bottled: July 31, 2017; unfined and unfiltered • Technical Information o Varietal Composition: 53% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon o Production (in cases): 554 cases (9L) o Alcohol: 14.5% • Tasting Notes o Perfumed lilac and lavender unfold into brush-strokes of black cherry and fresh cassis bud. Intricate and concentrated flavors of red currant, dill, and a hint of cola dance across the tongue. Provencal spices and green olive add to the depth and complexity. Full, velvety tannins are accented by the freshness of the acidity and minerality. Patience will be rewarded; this wine promises to have long-term aging potential.
Variety
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol-abv
14.5%
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£72

California

California is the largest and most important wine region in the USA. It accounts for the southern two-thirds (850 miles or 1370 kilometers) of the country's west coast. (Oregon and Washington make up the rest.) The state also spans almost ten degrees of latitude. With mountains, valleys, plains and plateaux, California's topography is as complex as its climate, offering winegrowers a bewildering choice of terroir.

Californian wines only rose to global renown in the past few decades (notably after the Paris Judgment of 1976). However the state's viticultural history dates back more than 200 years. European vines were first planted here in the 18th Century, as settlers and missionaries made their way up and down the west coast. They brought with them the Mission grape – the vinifera variety also instrumental in establishing viniculture in Central and South America. Although very few Mission vines are to be found in California today, it remains a cornerstone of Californian wine.

The first half of the 20th Century brought war, Prohibition and the Great Depression to the United States. Collectively these suffocated the nation's wine industry. It wasn't until the significant social, cultural and economic developments that followed World War 2 that things began to change. In the 1970s, Californian wine industry leaders brought about renewed winemaking passion in other US states, in turn sparking the national wine renaissance. This period saw a proliferation of new, small-scale wineries throughout the country and the upscaling of longer-established operations. Momentum has continued into the 21st century.

Today, California hosts some of the world's largest wine companies. It is also home to a number of boutique wineries, some of which attract astronomical prices for their cult wines. Whether through mass production or single-vineyard artisanal winemaking, California produces 90 percent of American-made wine. It also supplies more than 60 percent of all wine consumed in the country. A record 211.9 million cases were produced in 2011.

The principal varieties grown in California are Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. A wide range of traditional European (Vitis vinifera) vines also flourish, including Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah. Zinfandel can also be included in the list as it is genetically identical to Tribidrag in Croatia and Primitivo in Italy. Among white grape varieties Sauvignon Blanc is a distant second to Chardonnay. These are grafted to hardy American rootstocks which are resistant to phylloxera. Less well known are American/European hybrids producing wines mainly for local consumption.

Napa Valley

Napa Valley

Situated immediately north of San Pablo Bay, Napa Valley runs extends for approximately 35 miles (60km) between the Vacas and Mayacamas mountain ranges (to the east and west respectively). The scenic 40-minute drive between the Napa and Calistoga townships passes through some of the most valuable viticultural real estate on Earth.

Napa Valley is one of the most famous and prestigious wine region of the world. Although a number of grape varieties are grown in the valley's vineyards, the area is particularly known for its Cabernet Sauvignon. The classic "Napa Cab", the archetypal Napa Valley wine, is a rich, oak-aged red with aromas of blackcurrant, boysenberry, licorice, vanilla and smoky, bittersweet chocolate.

The range of grape varieties grown in the Napa Valley has evolved steadily over the 150 years since Yount planted his first vines. Cabernet Sauvignon has risen confidently to become Napa's star performer, and is the most widely planted grape in almost all of the valley's sub-regions. The notable exception to this rule is Carneros, whose cool, breezy mesoclimate is better suited to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Merlot is also prominent, although since its fall from favor in the 1990s it is now used mostly as a blending component.

Climate, geology and topography are three essential components in what makes Napa Valley such a first-rate viticultural area. The combined influences of San Pablo Bay and the hills of the North Coast Ranges are responsible for the valley's very particular mesoclimate. The bay generates morning fog, and the hills channel it inland, up into the valley. Without this fog that comes rolling in from the bays, the valley's climate would be substantially warmer than it is, making it difficult to achieve structure and balance in the wines. The fog doesn't reach the higher parts of the valley, however, leaving these to rely on the cooling effects of altitude to keep their vines in balance.