Cabernet Sauvignon is a spontaneous cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, and similar to the latter, the growth is vigorous and the shoots grow vertically, quite unlike Pinot Noir with its shoots that droop. Rattlesnake Canyon on the Berry ranch is an unusual site for Cabernet Sauvignon and produces some interesting wines. The fifty-year-old goblet-trained vines are planted on a rocky hillside; the steepest upper rows are terraced, while vines on the lower slopes are planted on a six-foot-by-six-foot grid. The well-drained, rocky soil controls the vigor and the upright growth on vines without a trellis allows Ed to disc under his vines and eliminate the weeds and grasses that compete for precious water and nutrients. Cabernet Sauvignon vines struggle on the thin soils of Rattlesnake Canyon, so the clusters are loose and the berries are small and round with thick, blue-black skins.
A morning weekday tasting with Navarro's staff. In this tasting, the group was presented with four wines, each featuring different ratios of two components, in order to determine the most pleasing combination. After a series of three tastings, our final 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon blend was selected in July 2017.
Ed Berry Jr. in his 4WD with Rattlesnake Canyon in the background. "Canyon" is a slightly misleading name as the site is actually a steep, rocky hillside with a top-notch, southwest exposure. Rattlesnakes do thrive in this dry, rocky terrain; we enjoy the wine produced even if it means climbing the hillside—cautiously—several times each vintage. We've made Cabernet from Berry Vineyards' grapes since 2004. We were so impressed with their Cab from that first vintage that we offered them a long-term arrangement; in return we were offered fruit from their best field, Rattlesnake Canyon.
The climate is influenced by the cold ocean temperatures off the Mendocino coast and weeks before Berry's Cab is ripe, the nights turn very cold which helps retain the grapes' natural acidity and emphasizes an herbaceous element. Cabernet Sauvignon ripens late, exposing the grapes to storms, but Cab's thick skins hold up to inclement weather and we've seen vintages where the grapes have been through several storms without any signs of rot. After fermentation, the Cabernet was aged twenty-two months in seasoned French oak barrels, clarified with egg whites then bottled unfiltered. Varietal flavors suggest black cherry, roasted jalapeño, olive and tobacco. Silver Medal winner.