Dec ’23 ‘TOP SHELF’ CLUB SELECTION (Formerly High-End Red)



Obsidian Wine Company, “Half Mile” Cabernet Blend, $80

The Wine/ Winemaker’s Notes (Alex Beloz, Winemaker)

“Half Mile” is a winemaker selection of barrels that best showcase the power and richness of volcanic mountain fruit. The 2021 represents the top 40 barrels selected (1,029 cases). Cabernet Sauvignon is the core, with Petit Verdot giving the structure and floral signature that distinguishes this wine. Beautifully integrated oak creates harmony and refinement.

The estate is planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon across three climactic zones ranging from 2,300 to 2,640 feet. The uppermost portion sits above the inversion layer on the steepest, rockiest slope, ten degrees warmer on average than the lowest elevation of the vineyard.

As a result, vines above 2,500’ bud and ripen a month earlier and produce powerful, ripe flavors. Small blocks of Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah are planted at the highest corner of this section at 2,640 feet elevation—exactly a half mile. The lower third of the vineyard has the gentlest slope and the coolest temperatures, yielding wines that are aromatic and nuanced. At the center is the most protected site, yielding beautifully balanced cabernets.

Obsidian wines are the only cabernet sauvignons in California (perhaps the world) aged in 100% Hungarian oak barrels. Our source forest in Tokaj is planted to the same oak species used in France, Quercus Petraea, however the trees grow more slowly due to the volcanic soils, resulting in 30% higher density of the wood. These super-tight-grain barrels are low in vanillan and are toasted slowly at low temperatures to avoid imparting overt toasty notes. For the Half Mile, we use exclusively Kádár barrels from our own cooperage, 50% new, aged 18 months.

The “Half Mile” Cabernet Sauvignon expresses the ripeness and intensity of the highest elevation blocks. Our Winemaker selects individual barrels of cabernet to blend with Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah to craft a classic mountain style that is structured and plush. The fermentation is completed in 8-10 days and wines are pressed immediately to avoid over extraction of the skins.

By the Numbers

VARIETAL/BLEND: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Petit Verdot, 6% Petite Sirah
APPELLATION: Red Hills Lake County
VINEYARD DESIGNATION: Obsidian Ridge Vineyard
TITRATABLE ACIDITY: 5.36 g/L    PH: 3.84
AGING: 18 months in 50% New Petraea, Medium Toast Plus BarrelsObsidian Wine Co - 3 founders
ALCOHOL: %14.6
COOPERAGE: 100% Kádár

The Winery

The families behind Obsidian Ridge say they’re most at home when living on the edge. In 1973, Nicholas Molnar planted Poseidon Vineyard at the southern extreme of Napa Carneros, on what had been grazing land since the time of the missionaries.

He was among the first to farm this area which at the time was considered too cool to ripen wine grapes. For three decades, he grew chardonnay & pinot noir for the top sparkling wine houses in Napa Valley. When it came time for his sons to take over the family business, they felt there was an opportunity in another under-valued area within California – the red and volcanic soils of Lake County, north of Sonoma.

“From Bay to Volcano”
a 1-acre pile of obsidian boulders too large to be removed from the vineyard

Obsidian boulders too large to be removed!

Obsidian Ridge began with three people – Michael Terrien and two brothers, Peter Molnar and Arpad Molnar (above, left-to-right). Twenty years ago, they ventured north from the Molnar’s Carneros propety and planted a vineyard on an abandoned walnut orchard a half mile in the sky.

They soon discovered they were farming on a volcano, on a ridge of solid black Obsidian glass. The photo at right shows the pile of obsidian boulders too large to be removed from the vineyard – that little circle is close to an acre in size and to add some perspective to its size, the three founders are standing on this rock pile in the photo above! The vineyard’s extreme climate, altitude, and volcanic soils result in a cabernet sauvignon like no other.

Winemaker Alex Beloz has crafted these wines for more than a decade using barrels made from Tokaj oak by Kádár Hungary, the Molnar family’s cooperage.

Obisidian’s four core principles:
  1. COLLABORATION – Making fine wine requires collaboration, and we rely on the knowledge and partnership of others.
  2. ECONOMY – We reinvest in our people and our facilities to create stable, safe workplaces and support rural communities.
  3. ENVIRONMENT – We believe wine must promote healthy ecosystems, which is why we farm sustainably, our winery is solar-powered, and we have donated over $300k to SF Baykeeper
  4. EXPLORATION – We believe there is no greater purpose or pleasure in life than exploring and sharing our natural resources.

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