We've embraced a back-to-basics approach to winemaking, letting our senses dictate our method, and relying on the quality of the land to guide our progress.
The Rudius portfolio isn‘t part of a planned strategy or structured system — it’s simply wish fulfillment. If we’re dying to work with 100 year old vines, we find a way to do it. If we want to add an extraordinary vineyard to our lineup, we make it happen. How else can you explain a Napa winemaker grafting Howell Mountain Cabernet over to Viognier? We’re THAT passionate about our vision, our land, and our craft.
This is our fourth vintage working with Panek Vineyard, and dare we say, we’ve stepped up our game on this one. This fruit has a unique sense of place that sets it apart from the rest of our portfolio. Fragrant just-ripe blackberry and cassis are given strength and depth by the slate-driven structure and refreshing acidity that is characteristic of this western St. Helena site. After tasting this exquisite balance of flavors in our first few vintages, we knew Panek fruit had the ability to make something truly mind-blowing, and in 2012 it happened! This year’s Panek Cab simply explodes with clove spice and espresso notes, accentuated by milk-chocolatey smooth tannins, giving the palate tremendous richness and staying power. The bold finish tails off with showy hints of black cherry and scorched earth. All the normal attributes of Panek have been ratcheted up a few notches, but the wine retains the every bit of elegance you'd expect from this bottling — one that promises a long and beautiful evolution in the cellar.
2014 was an incredibly fulfilling year for us. We bottled the 2012 wines — our strongest vintage to date, but our biggest moment by far was a deeply personal one: we welcomed our first daughter, Kaley Elizabeth. As a tribute to our little "Nugget," we are thrilled to introduce a special namesake bottling in her honor. Beginning in 2012, the preeminent wine from each vintage will be bottled under the name Kaley Elizabeth and will highlight the best of what we, our vineyards, and the year had to offer.
This inaugural bottling comes from our favorite eastern Oakville hillside vineyard and beautifully highlights the classic notes of this marquee Cabernet appellation. You can almost taste the iron-rich red soil of the terraces as flavors of roasted meat fill your palate and mingle with aromas of smoke and graphite. Bright blueberry and subtle hints of lavender flesh out the mid-palate as ripe, sun-soaked tannins carry the wine to a lengthy finish. As impressive as the 2012 Kaley Elizabeth is now, we strongly believe it will be the longest-lived Cabernet in our portfolio from this vintage. If you tuck a bottle or two away in your cellar and revisit it in 18 years, as we plan to do on our little girl’s high school graduation day, we expect you'll enjoy a beautiful toast.
Cooler than average temperatures during flowering and set presented winemakers with a challenge in 2015. Yields in our 'Kaley Elizabeth' blocks were reduced and the resulting smaller crop reached maturity about a week or two earlier than normal. Continuing drought conditions in the Napa Valley combined with these early seasons stresses resulted in fruit with remarkable power and concentration. This year's wine expresses classic 'Kaley' profiles with a bit more 'oomph'. A mix of black cherry, sweet cassis and brambly blackberry is accented by prominent secondary characteristics of Middle Eastern spices, crushed slate and earth, and bound by lengthy hillside tannins. In 2015, we began leaving the Cabernets in wood a bit longer than in previous vintages to enhance the mouthfeel and give the resulting wines a more seamless texture. This new regime has resulted in our latest 'Kaley' being much more approachable just after release, but has not altered its extraordinary ageability.
2015 Kaley Elizabeth Cabernet Sauvignon - Oakville, Napa Valley
$405 per 3-pack
($135 per bottle)
In the Vineyard
Perched just above Silverado Trail in Oakville’s sun-soaked eastern hills, the vineyard that produces our Kaley Elizabeth Cabernet is truly one of a kind. Planted in 1988 on terraces cut into the brick-red clay soils indicative of this sub-appellation, the vines here have been painstakingly maintained over the last nearly three decades. Few Cabernet vineyards in the Napa Valley have such an abiding sense of history and commitment to quality. Clone 7 — a favorite of farmers in the 80s and 90s — delivers consistently rich, bold fruit from year-to-year, while the incredibly well-drained, fractured soil of the terraces adds just the right amount of stress over the growing season. The result: a wine that is both plush and complex, every bit a modern Napa Cabernet, with bold dark elements that harken back to the days of old California.
Block: 1 and 2
Clonal Selection: Clone 7
Year Planted: 1988
Soil Series: Clay Loam and Gravely Loam
Elevation: Approx. 450 feet
Made from vines planted in 1888 in the heart of Sonoma Valley, this is a true California heritage blend. It was common practice in the early days of California viticulture to plant “field blends” — interplanting many diverse varietals including Carignan, Black Muscat, Alicante Bouche, and Mourvédre with a good deal of Zinfandel. This beautifully complex mix creates a unique wine that has the aromatic hallmarks of a well-balanced Rhone but with the power and structure of a true California Zin. In 2015, the Bedrock Vineyard Red Wine shows a bit more of the old vine Syrah than in years past with a beautifully gamey profile. Still, the rich brambly purple fruits of the Zin are uncompromised. As there is no new oak on the blend as a whole, delicate undertones of violet, black pepper and dried lavender compliment this powerful wine and carry through to a long, silky finish. This is always a strong favorite among our “Rhone” lineup despite hailing from the capitol of New World Zin, but we have no doubt that when this wine hits your glass you will wholeheartedly agree, this is just the ticket for the closeted Rhone lover.
2015 Bedrock Vineyard Red Wine, Sonoma Valley
$120 per 3-pack
($40 per bottle)
In the Vineyard
We love each vineyard in the Rudius portfolio for its uniqueness and exceptional quality, but Bedrock holds special meaning for the Rudius team. Like owners Morgan and Joel Peterson, we strongly believe that the history of California wine is deeply rooted in heritage varietals and classic field blends, planted by European immigrants centuries ago. And this is precisely what can be found at Bedrock Vineyard. Old World varietals such as Alicante Bouche, Black Muscat and Cinsaut thrive in the alluvial soils at the base of Moon Mountain, ripening early in Sonoma’s hot harvest days. In 2007 the Peterson family became the stewards of the land and vines, recognizing the potential of this rare historic planting. Preserving the vines and paying homage to the farmers that came before them, vintage after vintage they continued to farm the 22 varietals found in this block to consistently produce quality fruit. In the cellar, we strive to pay our respects to the land by making a wine that is purely driven by the character of the site — no new oak and purely native fermentations result in a mixed-blacks blend that always speaks to the vintage, the vines and the hands that have tended it.
AVA: Sonoma Valley
Block: Block 38
Clonal Selection: Heirloom
Year Planted: 1888
Soil Series: Tuscon Red Series Loam
Elevation: Approx. 100 feet
The Savory Estate Vineyard Cabernet introduces itself with flavors of black cherry, cassis and ripe bramble that flesh out across your palate. Complex notes of flint and cardamom spice follow and darken the overall profile. The tannin structure here is not shy, hailing as it does from the valley’s preeminent mountain appellation, but this is every bit a classic California Cabernet. Our Estate Cab has the plush mid-palate to support its age-worthy backbone, but will still impress with power in its youth. We are more than happy to lay the Savory Estate Cabernet down for years — as we hope to pop a bottle or two on Kaley Elizabeth’s wedding day — and that is just what this wine needs. Decanting will serve you well if you’d like to share a bottle with friends today, but your best bet is a 3-10 year rest in the cellar. We promise, this wine will be nothing short of dazzling in its golden years.
$405 per 3-pack
($135 per bottle)
In the Vineyard
Back in 2006, the first Cabernet Rudius produced hailed from Howell Mountain. With the introduction of our Savory Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon in 2014, we have come full circle. Our estate vineyard, perched at 1700 feet elevation on Howell Mountain, not only represents the best of what this appellation has to offer but also epitomizes the Rudius philosophy. Structure. Depth. Ageability. These have always been the hallmarks of Jeff’s winemaking style and our estate fruit provides the perfect canvas for his work. The shy yielding, Clone 7 vines from Blocks 1 and 2 give an intense concentration of flavor and an elegant structure, indicative of mountain fruit.
AVA: Howell Mountain
Block: 1 and 2
Clonal Selection: Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 7
Year Planted: 1998
Soil Series: Clay and Gravelly Loam
Elevation: 1780 feet
We know, patience is a virtue but it was awfully tough to wait to share this exceptional wine with everyone in our tenth anniversary vintage. Thanks to a single barrel experiment from a few years earlier, we discovered that Panek loves a little extra time to relax in barrel before showing the best of what is has to offer. So in 2014, we allowed our Panek Vineyard Cabernet 33 months of extended barrel aging and the results are simply stunning!
The 2014 vintage is classic Panek Cabernet : distinct pencil lead and graphite edginess, with the ever-present Panek Vineyard ‘blueberry’ rounding out a surprisingly fragrant bouquet. The precise and seamless palate is even more pronounced in this vintage due to the extended aging, and the wine drinks as though it has already enjoyed the additional bottle age it usually asks to show its best. Rich flavors of slow roasted meat, warm holiday spices and ripe black currants combine to bring the wine to a satisfyingly smooth finish that lingers long after the last sip. This is perhaps the best Panek Vineyard Cabernet Rudius has produced, and that is saying something. We hope that you will have the patience to hold some of this wine until 2035 and beyond, as we certainly won’t!
2015 Panek Vineyard Cabernet - St. Helena
$270 per 3-pack
($90 per bottle)
In the Vineyard
Panek Vineyard is located just north of the town of Saint Helena, near the historic Bale Grist Mill. Originally cultivated as an old vine Zinfandel vineyard, the current Cabernet plantings were established in 2005 as a mix of five different clones. This area has been known for decades to produce some of the finest fruit in the Napa Valley due to its unique combination of well-drained, old river wash and alluvial soils from the western hills. Panek also experiences a slightly warmer climate across the growing season than regions just south of the pinch in the valley at Lodi Lane due to the surrounding topography. These conditions combine to create a site that consistently yields wines with a unique high-tone, blueberry profile and lengthy, silky tannins not normally found in Cabernets from the valley’s lower elevations. Our Panek Vineyard Cabernet has always been forward in its youth thanks to the warm harvest days and extended hang time it sees, but it’s ageability is unmatched among Saint Helena Cabernets due to the unique tannin profile these vines yield.
AVA: St. Helena
Block: Block 5
Clonal Selection: Clone 337
Year Planted: 2005
Soil Series: Gravely Loam
Elevation: Approx. 50 feet
There is nothing more invigorating than the element of surprise, and our Farella Vineyard Cabernet is nothing if not unpredictable. Painstakingly managed and expertly farmed, this vineyard always yields an elite Napa Cabernet, but Farella’s unique location in the valley lends a marked complexity to this wine that sets it apart from the rest of the wines in our cellar. Tucked away in a southernly corner of the eastern hills, this vineyard’s character is defined by the fog-dominated mornings and long, sun-drenched afternoons it experiences. Bright red raspberry and bing cherry explode on your palate, while a refreshing acidity keeps this Cabernet firmly grounded in south Napa. And though this alluringly plush entry may fool you, the silky structure, defined by warm vanilla and licorice spice, and hints of fragrant evergreen tells you that this is a Cabernet for the ages. Many New World wines are made to impress upon release but this is not that wine. While it may hide the best of itself from you now, the Farella Cab will stand out among its peers 12-15 years, as it truly comes into its own.
2014 Farella Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
$270 per 3-pack
($90 per bottle)
In the Vineyard
Frank and Tom Farella’s remarkable commitment to precise farming and responsible stewardship is evident in the outstanding wine this site produces year-to-year. The finesse of a cool-climate appellation and an incredible sense of depth that demands your continued attention are hallmarks of Farella that we have come to know and love. Every harvest season is an opportunity to make a truly singular wine, but, with each passing year, the high-tone character and edgy coolness of Farella’s “Rockpile Block” endure, reminding us just what sparked our love affair with this vineyard and renewing our commitment to pay tribute to this place.
AVA: Coombsville, Napa Valley
Block: 6 - “Rockpile”
Clonal Selection: Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 4
Year Planted: 2001
Soil Series: Coombs Stony Loam - Gravelly Loam
Elevation: Approx. 850 feet
There are certain wines, certain varietals, that excites even the most jaded enophile, and Cabernet Franc is one of them. So you can imagine Jeff’s excitement when we had the opportunity to include this single-vineyard Cabernet Franc in our portfolio in 2014. Hailing from a single, high elevation, southwest facing block in the Sugarloaf Vineyard in the Combsville Appellation, this wine is true to its origin and varietal, through and through.
The dark ruby-red color sets this wine apart from its darker, more intense cousins in our portfolio and immediately tells you it is pure Cab Franc. Aromatically, our Sugarloaf Cabernet Franc is a true classic: fragrant aromas of tobacco and cigar smoke combine with elements of dried rose petal, blackberry, and rich truffles to dazzle from the first impression. There is great richness and depth to the palate where ripe blackberry and warm clove flavors are lifted by touches of black licorice and star anise. The significant complexity found in our Cab Franc is a testament to the uniqueness of this block, but also owes itself to the 33 months of extended barrel aging the lot underwent in our cellar. Neutral French oak and limited rackings allowed the wine to age on a slower curve and develop additional layers of interest not normally found in New World Cab Francs. The resulting wine has a remarkable ageability that will guarantee it holds a prominent place in your cellar until at least 2030.
2014 Sugarloaf Vineyard Cabernet Franc
$195 per 3-pack
($65 per bottle)
The Hudson Vineyard Syrah is always a stand out in our portfolio for its considerably French- leaning style and incredible balance. Both the mouth feel and aromatics are dominated by secondary characteristics, brought to the forefront by beautifully balanced acidity. Forrest mushrooms, roasted game meat and accents of cardamom spice are highlighted by just-ripe fig and a fresh brininess, owing to the distinct minerality of Hudson’s soils. Our signature subtlety with oak on our Rhones serves to preserve the pristine fruit character of the Alban Clone, while the purely native fermentation leaves the wine’s inherent aromatics intact. This is one California Syrah that strongly speak to its origin, and will undoubtedly remind you why you fell in love with the varietal and the terroir in the first place.
2014 Hudson Vineyard Syrah - Carneros, Napa Valley
$150 per 3-pack
($50 per bottle)
In the Vineyard
In a region known for world-class Cabernet, Hudson Vineyard makes its mark by producing truly legendary Syrah. Farmed and owned by Lee Hudson, this vineyard has been one of the preeminent Syrah sites in Northern California for over 20 years. T Block is split between only three vintners — Rudius, Bedrock and Lee Hudson himself — lending credence to the true beauty and quality of the fruit. The Alban Clone is classic California in its concentrated color and rich, ripe fruits but stands apart from its contemporaries with distinct Old World accents, capable bringing intriguing secondary characteristics to the forefront. Lee’s eye for quality is evident in the fruit this block produces vintage to vintage, and the one-of-a-kind wines that result. Rudius is honored to have the opportunity to work with the fruit from such an esteemed site and grower.
Block: T Block
Clonal Selection: Alban
Year Planted: 1988
Soil Series: Clay Loam
Elevation: Approx. 800 feet