Volker Eisele is a quiet, reserved gentleman--he reminds us of Old World winemakers who always let their wine speak for themselves. And when you finally succeed in prodding Eisele to finally open up, he's likely to launch into a discussion about why organic farming is the only sensible approach to a sustainable vineyard.
Eisele may be a man of few words, but his wines speak volumes. He makes small batches of just three wines from his vineyards in Napa's cool, fog-cloaked Chiles Valley. The growing season here is very long, which enhances the development of subtle flavors, full body, and overall complexity of Eisele's fruit.
Making the Cabernet Sauvignon is a labor of love: Eisele selects seven different Cabernet clones that compliment each other, and which he grows organically. Eisele is sanguine when it comes to his vineyard management: "Organic farming makes stronger vines. Stronger vines make better fruit. Better fruit make better wines," Eisele explains. "Organic farming is better insurance for the long-range future of our agricultural land and our future farmers."
Not surprisingly, Eisele is the kind of calm, veteran grower who waits until his fruit has reached complete physiologic ripeness before he starts harvesting. For extra structure and complexity, he blends this Cabernet with small amount of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, then he ages the wine in 50% French new oak. The result is a richly fruited wine that has the structure and depth of character to improve with extended cellaring.
The North Coast followed a stellar 2001 growing season with an even better one in 2002. Robert Parker claims that 2002 is a "classic California vintage," that produced "ripe, rich, exuberant, full-throttle, intensely forward wines. The big Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux variety blends possess plenty of tannin, but it is sweet and largely concealed by the extraordinary wealth of fruit and extravagant richness. They are top-notch examples of what California does best."
About this 2002 Volker Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon in particular, Parker notes that it "offers attractive earthy, black currant, and subtle oak aromas. This Bordeaux-styled red possesses good structure, a certain lightness and austerity, and clean, pure, black currant fruit as well as hints of licorice and spice. It is a nicely rendered Cabernet that should drink well for 10-12 years."