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Delicato building winery for ‘cult’ Napa Cabernet

California’s Delicato Family Vineyards is building a boutique winery at its Black Stallion estate uniquely for the production of a new “cult” Napa Cabernet.

Black Stallion Winery in Napa will be home to a new boutique winey that will produce just one wine

Rheinhessen-born Ralf Holdenreid, director of winemaking at Black Stallion, revealed the news to db during a recent trip to California.

“We’re building a boutique winery called Sam Jasper in honour of Delicato’s founder, Gaspare Indelicato. Designed by an Italian architect, the winery will produce just one wine – a super high-end Cabernet that benefits from consultancy from Thomas Rivers Brown.

“The wine will be very different to anything we’ve done before as we want it to be stylistically separate – it’s important that the wine has its own distinct character.

Black Stallion winemaker Ralf Holdenreid is keen to emphasise Pinot’s purity

“We haven’t finalised the details of the wine yet, but it will be called Sam Jasper and we’ll only make a tiny amount of it. We want it to be on a par with other ‘cult’ California Cabernets from Napa,” Holdenreid said.

At the moment Delicato’s top red is Burcephalus, a wax-sealed blend of Cabernet, Petit Verdot and Syrah priced at £200, named after Alexander the Great’s horse.

As to whether Black Stallion’s German-born winemaker brings a European touch to the California wines he makes, Holdenreid stressed the importance of staying true to the region you’re in.

“It’s undeniable that you get a lot of fruit and concentration from grapes grown in Napa, but we don’t want to push that side of things too far. It’s also a mistake to try and mimic French wines here, because the soils and climate are so different.

“It’s important to embrace the raw materials the Napa Valley has to offer. For our red blends we source from 16 different AVAs and practice small lot winemaking. Our main aim is to showcase the Napa Valley through its sub-regions,” he told db.

When it comes to Pinot Noir, Holdenreid is on a mission to bring out the grape’s gracefulness rather than trying to pursue power.

“California is the number one offender in creating Pinot Noirs like Meiomi that are dark and more Syrah-like in character.

“Sweet, syrupy, viscous Pinots with Petite Sirah blended in for added colour have become a bit of a stereotype style in California, which is taking away from Pinot’s true character,” he said.

“This trend is not good for the reputation of Pinot in the US. I’m keen to show off its pure fruit character and use punchdowns and open top fermenters to do so. Being German I feel a sense of pride with Pinot Noir and a duty to make good Pinot. I’m experimenting with carbonic maceration and whole cluster fermentation at the moment,” he added.

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