Laurel Glen owner Patrick Campbell is one of California's true pioneers. Thirty years ago, he planted his first Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard on Sonoma Mountain. Since then, Laurel Glen has become synonymous with this special appellation.
Sonoma Mountain defines the western border of Sonoma Valley, where it mitigates the effects of the damp and windy coastal weather patterns. Laurel Glen's vineyards are situated 1000 feet above sea level on the east-facing side of the mountain. The key to these mountain vineyards is the fog line. The best ones, like Laurel Glen's, are above it. They receive direct sunlight in the morning, before the day gets too hot, and as a result the growing season is long, gradual, and moderate--ideal conditions for producing wines with very balanced, fully matured fruit and a refreshing level of acidity.
The peak of Sonoma Mountain towers 500 feet above Laurel Glen's vineyards, and its collapsed volcano is responsible for the volcanic detritus, igneous rock, and pockets of volcanic ash that, along with some upwellings of marine sediments, constitute the diverse soils of Laurel Glen's vineyards. Soil composition varies from yard to yard, ranging from thin, rocky soils, to a layer of heavier marine soil, to a loamy reddish and iron-rich patch. Each vine is a direct expression of its own terroir, resulting in complex layers of flavors in the bottle.
Laurel Glen's flagship Cabernet Sauvignon is one of California's the most ageworthy wines (confirmed by the recent 25-year vertical tasting we attended in January). In 1987, Patrick introduced a second Cabernet, Counterpoint, which he makes with fruit from vineyard lots that are suited to earlier drinking. Like its big brother, Counterpoint is dark, deeply fruited, and delicious, with a juicy acidity and mature tannins.
The 2003 Counterpoint displays a fine violet rim with a supple, intense black core (typical of Laurel Glen's mountain vineyard) that presages its brightness and depth. The long, mostly cool growing season produced aromas of great finesse and complex flavors. This wine's nose is a lovely melange of violets, dark cherries, and a haunting citrus note almost reminiscent of malbec, which develops after the bottle has been open for a few hours. With its juicy acidity and deep core, the 2003 Counterpoint is fully within the Laurel Glen house style--and like all of Patrick's wines, it's made to be enjoyed with food. Drink now-2010.
Suggested Food Pairings:
Go big. A juicy slab of steak, like porterhouse or NY sirloin, with all the fixin's: roasted potatoes, a sauteed green vegetable. BBQ ribs sound good too. For cheese, try a dry jack from Vella (widely available) or maybe some aged Gouda.