Opulent, big, bold and a candidate to stand proudly alongside Napa’s finest cult wines, Iridium shows rich dark chocolate, caramel toffee and blackberries laced with oak spice, white pepper and black cherry. Firm, well-integrated tannins and a solid acid backbone give way to a richly decadent mouthfeel with lingering notes of mocha, cassis and classic Cabernet notes of graphite. Precious and rare, this is a wine that will continue to reveal itself over the next two decades.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the signature variety of the Napa Valley and the appellation excels in producing outstanding expressions of this admired varietal. Napa Valley offers an ideal combination of topography, geology and climate that enables Cabernet Sauvignon to reach optimum ripeness, balance and finesse. And within the valley, there are exceptional vineyards and sub-appellations that produce some of the finest expressions of this noble grape. In Vintage 2016, winemaker Harry Hansen has selected notable lots from vineyards spanning Napa from South to North, including the Meigs Vineyard, Moore Ranch, Sleeping Lady Vineyard in Yountville and Calistoga’s Frediani Vineyard. The vineyards offer soils ranging from clay to tufa, with a variety of clones, exposures and ages, including older head trained vines.
Winter rains helped signal the end of the immediate drought, but vineyards had grown stressed after multiple challenging years, resulting in modest yields for the season. A dry January was followed by a wet February, and temperatures remained mild, encouraging an early bud break to begin the growing season. Showers arrived in April, slowing the rapid advance of flowering and set. Early by historical standards, after harvest began picks moved at a leisurely pace as winemakers waited for ever more complex flavors to develop. The extended season helped balance acids and allowed layers of flavors to emerge.
Fruit was hand-harvested and hand-sorted, selecting only the highest quality fruit for fermentation in a combination of concrete, French Oak and stainless vessels. The concrete tanks, relatively new to the winery, offered a significant purity of expression. Fruit was allowed to ferment for up to 15 days with regular pump-overs to extract deep color and rich flavors. The wine was then gently pressed, racked and aged for 18 months in 93% new French oak from COF toasted medium/medium plus from a mix of coopers including Gamba, Remond, Taransaud, Allary and Quintessence. Barrels were tasted frequently before the final selection of only the most compelling lots for Iridium.
“This extraordinary wine has been a labor of love. I’ve enjoyed working with it from the very beginning and watching it evolve. Its beauty and intensity is remarkable and will surely be revered as one of the very best from Sterling Vineyards.” – Winemaker Harry Hansen