I am so excited to be finally working with riesling grapes! I feel this is a bit of a calling or destiny for me as I am absolutely, head-over-heels in love with this varietal. In my humble opinion, I do not believe there is another white grape varietal that best expresses it's soil or site. And, I also believe that there are selected sites along the extreme Sonoma Coast, that will also help fulfill my dream. I have had the privilege of knowing Erni Loosen for over 2 decades and we have traded many cases of wine during that tenure. He and his neighboring vintners craft magic in a glass and they have truly inspired me to take on this quest.
The 2016 Zallah Ranch is a high elevation, calcarious soiled, single vineyard located on the eastern side of Mt. Rainier in the Yakima Valley of Washington. Because of Federal TTB regulations (California & Washington are not contiguous states), the label appellation is the extremely broad "American", but this wine really is from a single vineyard site. The grapes were whole cluster pressed and the juice was fermented in a temperature controlled, 320 gallon concrete amphora.
In 2015, I partnered with two extreme Sonoma Coast vineyard owners to plant approximately 1+ acres (each) of riesling - budwood I harvested off of the Platt Ranch in Freestone. I hope to fill the concrete amphora in 2018 with our second vintage of riesling, now (and hopefully forever) from the Sonoma Coast.
For the 2016 vintage, and for all future vintages, I decided to add 4 to 5 different song lyrics for each wine label. This came about as Paige and I were building the Spotify playlists for each wine. Time together just simply enjoying music seemed more personal than a single song. Here are the lyrics that you can look for on the Zallah Ranch 2016 labels;
All that you taste, all that you feel ..... Eclipse
Cold late night, so long ago ..... Magic Man
It's time you stop, hey, what's that sound ..... For What It's Worth
Oh let the sun beat down upon my face ..... Kashmir
She's got a smile that seems to me ..... Sweet Child O' Mine
Vintage Notes: After tasting the whole cluster pressed juice, I came up with a plan on how I wanted to craft my first ever vintage of riesling - a scenerio I played in my mind probably a thousand times. I can't remember being so nervous about making a wine in the previous 35 vintages, as I was about this one.
I racked the cold, sweet juice into my concrete amphora, added a small amount of Assmanhausen yeast (an isolate from the Univ. of Geisenheim) and just let it slowly ferment over the next 62 days. No malo-lactic, no oak, just 14 months of aging on the primary fermentation lees and then bottled in December 2017. The wine finished dry with a natural alcohol of 12.8%, with a fresh and lively acidity of 8.4 g/L and final pH of 3.04. This wine shows wonderful depth & intensity, with powerful fruit flavors of white nectarines, tangerine, spice, pineapple and minerality. The texture is extremely fresh & lively with a long citrusy finish on your palate.
I would consider aging the 2016 Zallah Ranch for an additional 2-4 years, but I also believe that it will be surprisingly vibrant after 8-10 years. Cheers!
The Label Story
My wife Heather and I were fortunate enough to work with Byron Hoffman on our label design. This process was developed though several meetings at our home in Healdsburg that would sometimes last four or five hours. We talked about our family, my passion for music (rock ‘n’ roll in particular), how the wine business has provided us with an amazing life, and why we decided to pursue this project. We believe Byron very much captured our vision. This was one of the most rewarding processes I have ever been through. It seemed to finally bring our dream to life.
I adamantly resisted having my name “splashed” across the labels, so it may take a much closer look to find it. “Bob Cabral Wines” was used because the name “Cabral” had already be trademarked by a North American company importing Portuguese ports. That was just fine with me. We have used proprietary names for each wine. Each of those names has personal meaning and significance, those names have the largest font you’ll see on each label. Appellation, varietal, and vintage also are visible, since those are the most relevant information to any wine label. Byron deftly added many subtle elements from my fascination of old concert posters: the “bleeding” of color and backward lettering in a sort of balloon font to the color and texture of the paper stock we used. Each label also has a fragment of song lyric that I chose for a number of different reasons. Each is unique and meaningful to me, and I hope you find your own inspiration or muse as you enjoy the wines.
Rat De Cave
The French candle-stand called “Rat de Cave” or Cellar Rat, was the essential working tool used in the wine cellars of Burgundy. Its origin stems from far back in the past. In the year 1000 the Monks of the famous Abbey of Cluny, near Vougeot, used it to illuminate the caves that housed their wine barrels. This provided them with the necessary light to work with the wine barrels throughout the vintage. During fermentation, the colour of the flame showed the eventual evolution of gases as the wines underwent a chemical transformation. The Monks then knew to leave the caves due to lack of oxygen - a “canary” if you will. The handle or “rats tail” provides an easy grip and the hook permits to hang the stand on a nail or the head of an oak barrel. This would allow the Monks to rack the clear wine off of the heavy sediment or lees.
We chose this “tool” as a tribute or symbol to the traditional Burgundian methods I am using to craft our wines. Incorporating these traditions is an essential part of my winemaking thought process and vision - plus it’s really cool. You will not see this symbol on any of our labels, but should become quite familiar with it on the end of our bottle capsules. We hope that the flame inspires everyone towards a world of hope, peace and love.