2016 J. Lohr Vineyard Series Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon
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Meridith May, The Tasting Panel
- J. Lohr's three Paso Robles estate vineyards -- Shotwell in the El Pomar District, Beck in the Creston District, and Gean in the Adelaida District -- are home to the grapes that make up this expressive red. Each site adds its own personality traits that, combined with a new proprietary yeast strain called the Hilltop isolate and the finest French oaks barrels, result in the best-ever vintage for this iconic label (Clone 7 Cabernet Sauvignon was first planted at Hilltop Vineyard in 1989). The wine, which has 6% Petit Verdot and 4% Cab Franc blended in, makes a memorable first impression with serious scents of blue fruit covered in violets. Dense on the palate, graphite joins notes of plum, tar, and licorice as well as curvaceous yet arresting tannins. The fruit engages with concentration and turns blacker and bolder on the finish.
2016 Hilltop Cabernet shows dark fruit, chocolate, graphite and anise on the nose. The palate is dense and soft at once with layers of mineral, sweet oak barrel and fresh savory notes.
— Steve Peck, Director of Winemaking
Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, California
Bright fruit upon release, with the structure to age comfortably for 7 to 10 years.10 Years
Delicious with rosemary-seasoned ribeye and garlic roasted potatoes with parsnips and fennel.
Early seasonal rains were short of average, but the timing was ideal for vine health and wine quality in 2016. Every phenological marker, from budbreak in spring to bloom and veraison in the summer, occurred 1 to 2 weeks earlier than normal. Cabernet buds pushed around the middle of March, following heavy rains earlier in the month. The vine canopy growth propelled through the spring, bouyed by additional light rains in April and an ideal bloom period in early May. Tannin structure for 2016 was amplified by a warm veraison period beginning thethird week of July. Good ripening weather brought the Hilltop Cabernet harvest in early, with our highest elevation blocks harvested the second week of October showing the dark color and ripe fruit flavors this wine is known for.
Our Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon is grown on a handful of select vineyard sites in the Paso Robles AVA. Blessed with long summer days of intense sunshine, our near 100°F daytime temperatures are followed by chilly, ocean-cooled nights in the 50s. These Cabernet vines are naturally stressed in the dry, often very gravelly, and sometimes lime shale-laden soils. Water is at a premiumin these vineyards, enabling the viticulturist to fine-tune irrigation, resulting in the darkest fruit with resolved tannins year after year.