Patrick Campbell has been making some of California's longest lived Cabernet Sauvignons for over 20 years. While every long-lived Cabernet has a story, none is more improbable than Laurel Glen's. Patrick Campbell, fresh off a masters degree in theology at Harvard, moved to Sonoma in 1974 and began a three year stint studying Zen Buddhism. Campbell's interest in viticulture spawned a chance walk on Sonoma Mountain, leading him to an 80+ year old widow and, what Campbell believed to be, a perfect 3-acre parcel for Cabernet Sauvignon. Campbell offered to buy the acreage, but the owner wasn't a seller. A few days later, Campbell returned with a partner, his smiling infant daughter, and this time found the owner willing to negotiate.
Sonoma Mountain sits at the western-most point of the Sonoma Valley, caught in constant climatic struggle between the warm valley and the cool Pacific breezes. At 1000 feet above sea level, Laurel Glen sits above the clouds but below the peak of Sonoma Mountain, 1500 feet above. While most vineyards on Sonoma Mountain get either morning or afternoon sun, Laurel Glen's vineyard gets both. As a result, the grapes gain more complete physiological maturity delivering terrific ripeness, excellent structure and acidity.
The estate is farmed meticulously, with crews making as many as 15 passes through the vineyards during harvest, so as to be sure to pick at optimum maturity. Vineyard blocks are vinified separately, destined for two distinct wines: Laurel Glen (built for aging) and the Counterpoint (destined for earlier enjoyment).
Selections for the blends are made entirely by taste as opposed to block location or average age of the vines. After fermentation, the dozen or so finished lots are poured into glasses numbered on the bottom and then shuffled to preserve the identity of the individual lots. Those lots that are dense and pensive are selected for the Laurel Glen, while those packed with dark immediate fruits are chosen for the Counterpoint.
2004 offered far more lots suited for long-term aging than a typical vintage. Therefore, the 2004 Counterpoint has broader structure and a bigger mouthfeel. Beautiful violet/black in color, and packed with deep delicious black fruit, the 2004 may be ready for immediate consumption but it will certainly benefit from a little extra time in the glass.
We have this exact meal once year around the holidays and exceptional California Cabernet is always on the table. Open up a few bottles of the Laurel Glen to enjoy with:
Roast Tenderloin of Beef with horseradish sauce, Scottish Fried Lyonnaise Potatoes and Mixed Greens with Walnut Oil & Champagne Vinaigrette.