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The Red Hen Vineyard was one of Bart and Daphne Araujo’s biodynamically farmed sites. The property is in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, at the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains (across Highway 29 from the A&D estate vineyard). The soil acts like a sponge, with well-draining gravel and cobblestones suspended in alluvial silt and clay, which naturally pull rainwater down from the mountains and require little or no irrigation. This also encourages fine tannins and finesse in the resulting wines. Steve Matthiasson first came across this site in 2003. “In the 1950s through the 1970s, this block produced the top fruit for The Christian Brothers Winery, when it was still run by the monastic order,” he says. “It was forgotten about as a top-quality site until we rediscovered it”. According to the grower, Red Hen’s Cabernets have a quiet power, poise and impressive length with silky, weightless tannins that are the signature of this benchmark site.
The fruit from the top of the hill has small berries, getting larger and juicier as you move down the slope, giving winemaker Diana Snowdon-Seysses many flavours and textures to work with. Spending half the year as cellarmaster at Dujac, Snowdon-Seysses has been described as bringing a Burgundian eye to a very non-Burgundian grape—the touch is light and respectful. The blocks were handpicked and co-fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel over 19 days. The wine then matured for two winters in barrel (32% new oak).
This vineyard was sold after the 2018 vintage, and the Ashes & Diamonds team parted ways after some changes conflicted with their viticultural beliefs. So, this is the swansong of a great wine, a great vineyard, and an outstanding vintage. In owner Kashy’s words, “if you made a bad wine in Napa in 2018, you probably shouldn’t be making wine”. Showcasing the class of the vintage, this is an elegant and refined Cabernet, redolent with warm berry fruits, spice and savoury minerality. The palate is welcoming and medium-bodied with cool, fresh edges, perfectly pitched ripeness, fleshy weight and open-knit texture. Complex, concentrated and balanced, this radiates its great site and intelligent, considered winemaking.
We respectfully acknowledge the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation, who are the Traditional Owners of the land on which we operate in Melbourne, and pay our respect to their Elders past, present and emerging. We also acknowledge and respect the Traditional Owners of lands across Australia, their Elders, Ancestors, cultures and heritage, and recognise the continuing sovereignties of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations.
Warning: under the liquor control reform act 1998 it is an offence; to supply alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years (penalty exceeds $7000); for a person under the age of 18 years to purchase or receive liquor (penalty exceeds $500)