We’re often asked which of our Single Vineyard Cabernets is our favorite, and the answer is always the same: we love them all! But our Rutherford Hillside Reserve does hold a special place in our hearts, as it was the first Single Vineyard Cabernet we produced.
It was 1994, and in Napa Valley, wines bottled exclusively from one vineyard were still somewhat rare. But John Komes recognized there was something special about a group of vines located on the slope leading up to the northwestern edge of our estate in the Rutherford appellation. He kept the wine from this block separate, and bottled less than 50 cases on its own, dubbing it the Rutherford Hillside Reserve. John’s instinct proved prescient: when our first Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet was released in 1997 the Wine Spectator awarded it 96 points.
Five Years Earlier
1994 wasn’t the first time this block was bottled on its own. Beginning in 1989, Flora Springs produced a Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the same vines. In fact, the 1991 Flora Springs Rutherford Reserve Cabernet earned 97 points and the #3 spot on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list in 1994.
Flora Springs’ Rutherford Reserve was the predecessor to our Rutherford Hillside Reserve. In 1994 John added “Hillside” to the name, creating the first vineyard-designated wine from Flora Springs.
The label has changed over the years, but our Rutherford Hillside Reserve is still grown on our estate vineyard in Rutherford.
The Rutherford AVA is arguably one of the finest places to grow Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley, and the location of our Rutherford Hillside Reserve vineyard, on the western slopes of the AVA on what is often called the Rutherford Bench, is one of the most coveted in the appellation. Our vineyard lies on a gentle incline leading up toward the Mayacamas Mountains. Here the soils rest on a gravelly bed deposited by an old stream, providing excellent drainage. The climate, moderately warm with occasional morning fog and frequent afternoon breezes, is ideally suited to Cabernet. The combination of soil and climate results in a unique flavor profile referred to as “Rutherford Dust,” often described as powdery-soft dusty tannins with notes of fine cocoa powder.
2018: A Vintage for the Ages
2018 brought a long, steady and near-ideal growing season to Napa Valley, yielding wines of intensity, concentration and balance. Our 2018 Hillside Reserve, aged in French and American oak for 18 months, offers pure Cabernet fruit centered on currant, blackberry and black cherry, with ancillary notes of brown spice, dark chocolate and espresso. It is a complex, full-bodied wine that finishes with ripe, chewy tannins. This is the Cabernet you bring out when you want to impress. It will age beautifully for at least another 15 years.
Your Cellar Will Thank You
The Rutherford Hillside Reserve is one of Flora Springs’ most age worthy Cabernets, a wine that will provide enjoyment for ten, fifteen or even twenty years when properly cellared. Each year we make a certain amount of the previous and/or older vintages available on a limited basis. Be sure to check the store on our website for these periodic library releases.
“…decadent and lush, this is really a hedonistic Cabernet Sauvignon, really terroir driven as well, good acid and absolutely brilliant finish. I want to pair this with grilled meat – of any sort…I just want to keep savoring this wine…”
It takes a special Cabernet Sauvignon to be designated a Flora Springs “Single Vineyard.” Along with Trilogy and Flora’s Legacy Cabernet, these are the crown jewels in our portfolio. We asked General Manager Nat Komes how he and the winemaking team decides what makes the cut.
How do you determine when a vineyard is good enough to be bottled on its own?
To become a Single Vineyard a wine must convey a unique sense of place and individuality; in its aromas and flavors it must clearly express the characteristics of a particular site. Of course, the wine must be of extremely high quality. It’s gotta taste good!
How do you get complexity in a Single Vineyard wine?
The complexity comes from the site itself and in the way we blend different blocks together. Our viticultural practices are tailored to each block, allowing us to tease out the differences and distinctive characteristics of each one. That, coupled with the singularities each vintage brings, gives each of our Single Vineyard wines dimension and layers of complexity.
What winemaking techniques do you employ with the Single Vineyard Cabernets?
Our vinification is aimed at obtaining purity of fruit and the structure that makes for extended aging. We carefully hand sort the grapes upon receipt, give them a three- to four-day period of cold soaking prior to fermentation, and carefully manage the extraction of tannins during and after fermentation. Then we age the wines for about 18 months on average in French and/or American oak, depending on the wine.
What makes the Wild Boar Cabernet Sauvignon stands out as a Single Vineyard wine? Wild Boar has always been a revelation to me in the sense that I consider it to be an “all-American” wine. By that I mean it has a bit of a wild west character to it, yet it can also be polished and refined. Kind of like a well-dressed cowboy. We age Wild Boar in 70-75% American oak, which frames it in sweet, vanilla-like tannins. Although big, Wild Boar is never clumsy, but rather manages to walk the fine line between rich, ripe fruit and structural elegance.
Single Vineyard Cabernets
Truly elegant and powerful wines, that reflect the place from which they originate, learn more.
The 2018 Trilogy is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot, and if you’ve been keeping track, you’ll note these are the same three varieties that have comprised Trilogy since 2013, although in different percentages. The blend is not a given; each year we start from scratch, evaluating the wine lots and determining what will make the finest wine.
Of course Trilogy is always centered around a strong core of Cabernet Sauvignon…that much we do know. Cabernet gives the wine its strongest, most concentrated fruit component, as well as its full body and fine tannin structure. Cabernet endows the wine with aging power. Malbec, on the other hand, gives the wine an opening, with rich, dark fruit that makes you sit up and take notice right away. Petit Verdot, in contrast, stretches the wine, leaving you with a long, satisfying finish. It adds color too, but it’s the lingering quality of Petit Verdot that I really love.
So you see, at least in 2018, and in the previous five vintages, Malbec and Petit Verdot provide the framework for Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s like a painting you’d find in a museum, where the gilded frame is the platform and the finishing touch on an otherwise beautiful portrait. Next year may bring a different blend, with other varieties. We never know until we start to taste the new lots. What we do know is that our mission with Trilogy, since the beginning, is to create the best wine possible from our estate vineyards in Napa Valley. In that we will never waver.
This coming weekend would have been the 34th annual Trilogy Release Party—which is the highlight of my year. I’m going to miss the festivities…my favorite food pairings, live music, dancing, the wine of course, but mostly I will miss seeing all of our faithful Trilogy Release Party guests. I extend my deepest apologies to the Trilogy Fez gang. Please know that I, along with my mom and dad, Anne and the rest of our team will raise a glass to you, toasting the friendships we’ve made over the years.
I invite you to look back at past parties—enjoy this video compilation of some of our favorite moments.
A Look Ahead
Although we cannot host the big party this year, we will still be releasing the 2018 Trilogy on February 6 and you can be the first to taste the new vintage. We also look ahead to continuing the legacy of Trilogy, the reviews for the 2018 vintage are already rolling in.
93 points, Jeb Dunnuck “…a seamless, elegant texture that just glides across the palate. Giving up lots of red and black currants, flowery incense, medium to full-bodied richness, no hard edges, and a juicy, seamless, impossible to resist personality, it’s ideal for drinking over the coming 10-12 years.”
92 points, James Suckling “Rich aromas of blackcurrant jam, cloves, dried herbs and orange peel on the nose. It’s medium-to full-bodied with round, sleek tannins. Spiced and juicy with lifting freshness on the finish.”
Save the Date: February 5, 2022
Mark your calendar now for the 2019 Trilogy Release Party. We look forward to delighting you with all new experiences next year. Stay tuned!
Our etched and hand-painted bottles are a cherished tradition at Flora Springs, a way for us to commemorate special holidays with festive, one-of-a-kind bottlings. With each holiday release, the etched art changes and provides a unique Napa Valley wine to give or collect for yourself.
Our 2017 Be Mine Red Blend celebrates the most romantic holiday of all, Valentine’s Day, and is the perfect accompaniment to your date night candlelit dinner for two.
Or, delight your Galentine, mom, auntie, or sister with our playful Wine Love Stories.
Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is China’s most important traditional festival. Each Chinese zodiac year begins on Chinese New Year’s Day. The Chinese New Year can begin anytime between late January and mid-February. In 2021, Chinese New Year begins February 12th.
Year of the Ox
2021 is the Year of the Ox, the second of the twelve Zodiac animals. The ox symbolizes quiet strength, and a person born during the Year of the Ox is said to be self-confident, balanced and resilient.
Flora Springs celebrates this Zodiac sign with an etched and hand painted magnum featuring the playful resilience of this joyful beast of burden and the beauty symbolized by bamboo. Twice the size of a standard wine bottle at 1.5 liters, magnums are ideal for entertaining, for extended aging – and also make stunning gifts. Only 66 bottles were produced, with a limit of six bottles per person.
Our etched and hand-painted Holiday Bottles are one of Flora Springs’ most treasured traditions, a way for us to give you exclusive access to rare wines in festive, one-of-a-kind bottlings.
This year Nat Komes found inspiration from a vintage greeting card he uncovered in his Grandmother Flora’s attic, an illustration of a cardinal perched on a holiday wreath. Christened the “Christmas bird” for its spectacular red color, the cardinal is a symbol of the beauty and warmth of the holiday season. This brilliant bird found its way onto each of our holiday designs, our Holiday 2020 Gift Guide, and even throughout our holiday photo shoot.
Halloween is always a cause for celebration at Flora Springs, and all year long we look forward to releasing our Halloween Wines. Over the last decade, these seasonal bottlings have become some of our most anticipated and highly sought after annual releases.