The 2008 growing season presented significant challenges on our ranch, as well as to vineyards across California. Spring and autumn frosts–coupled with heat spikes, which impacted flowering and maturation–claimed much of the prized crop. Vineyard yields for Cabernet were generally at half of normal levels for Paso Robles, averaging under 3 tons per acre. 2008 was the second consecutive vintage of drought in the area, which limited vine growth and reduced cluster and berry size significantly. Fortunately for J. Lohr, the conditions of this rather difficult vintage resulted in a group of high-extract, intensely flavored wines. This vintage, we reached between 26-28° Brix on most lots, a requirement for creating the plump fruit and soft tannin profile that Hilltop Cabernet is known for.
|Appellation:||Paso Robles AVA,
San Luis Obispo County
|Composition||76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec,
7% Petite Sirah, 7% Petit Verdot, 1% other reds
|Harvest Dates:||October 11 through 25, 2008|
|Process:||Hand and machine-harvested.
Select lots were berry sorted on Vaucher Beguit Mistral to remove shot berries and sunburned fruit. Crushed to small, stainless steel fermenters.
|Harvest Chemistries:||27° Brix, 3.6 pH, total acidity 0.4 g/100ml|
|Vinification:||Yeast: Lallemand 43 and ICV-254
Fermentation: Primary fermentation in stainless steel tanks
Temperature: Peak fermentation at 92°F
Maceration: 6 to 10 days
Malo-Lactic: Malolatic complete with Viniflora Oenos
Maturation: 18 months in 225 liter French oak barrels
Barrel Type: French oak, thin stave "Chateau Ferré"
Forest: Center of France, Allier
Coopers: Bel Air, Boutes, Vicard, Sylvain,Dargaud et Jaegle
|Post-Maturation:||1 year bottle age prior to
|Bottling Numbers:||pH: 3.69
Total Acidity: 0.71 g/100ml
Alcohol: 14.5 % by vol
Residual Sugar: Dry
|Cellaring:||Delicious upon release, but has the structure to age for up to 10 to 15 years.|
The 2008 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon is dark-colored with red-purple
hues. Aromas of black plum, violet and pomegranate are wrapped
in a bouquet of hazelnut, coconut and Italian espresso. The large
palate volume of this wine is surprisingly soft and round on the
finish. A high fraction of Malbec brings brightness to this blend,
whose complexity and structure is reminiscent of the finest of
Bordeaux. This wine will age comfortably for 10 to 15 years.
—Steve Peck, red winemaker