Tasting Vellum’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

This past Sunday, I had the privilege of being invited to taste Vellum’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon.

This is only Vellum’s second wide release; they released a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon back around the Spring of 2009. Vellum’s 2007 was well received as evidenced by the fact that they won a silver medal at the 2010 World Wine Awards presented by Decanter Magazine. I have been able to enjoy a few bottles of the 2007, thanks to my dad. I remember first trying the 2007 at Christmas of 2009. We also enjoyed a few bottles this past Fall, and I loved tasting the evolution of the wine as it aged.

Vellum is run by two men: Karl Lehmann, the winemaker, and Jeff Mathy, the proprietor. I went to high school with Jeff Mathy who was two years ahead of me in school. His brother, Kevin, and I were in the same class. Both of our fathers are in Rotary together, and it was my dad who first reconnected me with Jeff.

Vellum’s goal is to create a great Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in the Old World tradition, meaning they want a wine that is superbly balanced between the fruit, the oak, the tannins, and the land.

The 2008 Cabernet is actually a blend, composed of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, and 8% Merlot, further contributing to the Old World wine-making style.

Here is how Karl and Jeff describe their 2008:

“The 2008 VELLUM opens up with heady aromas of raw cocoa, warm forest floor and brambly dark fruit. This impact on the nose lingers to a seamless transition in the mouth melding with intense flavors of strong cassis, espresso grounds, graphite and a finish of winter spices. The palate is broad at every point and falls front to back with a signature supple airiness completing in a very long warm finish.”

I am still learning and growing in training my nose and my palate to discern the subtle nuances of the wine, but I can say that the wine did have a very noticeable cocoa aroma. Once in the mouth, the wine did show a great balance of fruit and oak. Finally after every sip, the wine lingered in my mouth yet kept me wanting to go back. The 2008 is more refined than the 2007, which makes sense as Jeff and Karl have a year under their belts.

I enjoyed being at the tasting and hearing both Jeff and Karl talk about the wine, from the pH level in the wine, to the plot of land that they grow their grapes on, to the fact that 2008 was a winemaker’s year. Jeff explained that there are vineyard years and winemaker years. In vineyard years, the vines produce amazing grapes, and it is the job of the winemaker to let those grapes speak for themselves. This was the case in 2007 – Vellum’s inaugural vintage. However, in 2008, it was a winemaker year, meaning it took both Jeff and Karl’s skill to coax the flavors out of the grape. With the 2008 Cabernet, we get to see the talent of Karl and Jeff in making an amazing wine. And if 2008 is any indication of what is to come from Vellum, I think it is safe to say that Karl and Jeff will be major players in the California Cabernet scene in years to come.

If you have a chance, I encourage you to order a bottle. The wine is great for special occasions, and compared to other top California Cabs, Vellum is priced reasonably. They only produced 900 cases, so order a bottle before it is too later.

Thanks Jeff and Karl for another great wine!


Please note: the pictures are taken from Vellum’s blog and are used by permission.


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