2006 Sonoma Valley Malbec
Malbec • Caton Vineyard
California: Sonoma Valley
What we say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
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Mission Codename: Meticulous
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Ty Caton Vineyards to retrieve Ty’s brilliantly conceived 2006 Malbec
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Ty Caton Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Ty Caton Malbec
Winemaker: Ty Caton
Backgrounder: One of the six component varietals that go into a true French Bordeaux wine, Malbec (named for the Hungarian peasant who first brought the grape to France) is a thin-skinned grape that requires more time to mature than its Bordeaux brethren, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In America, where very little Malbec is grown, the wine is often used as a minority component of Meritage blends. While Argentina is, perhaps, best-known for producing exceptional examples of the varietal, increasingly, California wineries are becoming more skilled in extracting a unique, and delicious, expression of the grape. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Intensely dark garnet with concentrated color right out to its edges. The wine is fast-moving when swirled and it show a tight surface. Thick legs turn skinny as the slowly move down the glass, and a fine amount of grit is scattered around the edges of the glass
Smell – Sweet aromas of plum, mixed dark berry and cassis lead the way, gently giving way to more subtle aromas of vanilla, toasted oak and soft earth. Under there are subtle hints of mocha and chestnut
Feel – Bright and rich, but still soft and light on the attack and then, gradually, dry and grippy at the mid-palate with a medium body and a supple tannic structure with a full and coating mouthfeel. Add to this a soft minerality that lingers on the back of the palate
Taste – Concentrated and lush fruit flavors of dark mixed berries, bright sweet cherry, cassis and sweet plum, with balanced and soft oak. These are followed by hints of supple leather, black pepper and soft spice
Finish – Solid and sweet with a long finish that showcases the sweet fruits, mineral and soft spice
Conclusion – We have featured very few examples of Malbec here. This one certainly stands out as the best California Malbec I have had the pleasure to imbibe! This is a truly delicious wine that is long on flavor, with a Ty Caton’ characteristic fruit-forwardness. Add to these wonderful flavors the deep aromatics and lush feel of the wine and you have one spectacular Malbec. Ty’s attention to the vineyards and his care during the winemaking process is apparent in all of his wines, particularly today’s stunning 2006 Ty Caton Malbec. When paring this wine with food, consider how you might pair with a Merlot or a slightly subdued California Cabernet Sauvignon. If you can, imagine that this wine is somewhere in-between. That is to say that while it has big flavors, the supple feel and bright acidity of the wine make it an easy paring partner that won’t overpower your meals. Decant for 30 or more minutes for best results and you will find that the wine softens and its flavors really shine through. Enjoy!
Read about Agent Red’s original encounter with Ty Caton here when he discovered their Field Blend Red.
TY CATON: This is Ty.
AGENT RED: Ty Caton, Agent Red calling.
TY: Are we on a secure line?
RED: We are. I know how busy you are, so thanks for spending a few minutes with me today. Is harvest keeping you busy?
TY: Yes, but we’re about half way through. Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, and Petite Sirah are off – and next week the Cabernet Sauvignon will start to come off. By mid-month, we’ll be done and crush will continue. I won’t get a great until right around Thanksgiving!
RED: Such is the life of a winemaker, eh?!
TY: Indeed. I have to tell you, 2008 is looking really great. We had some crazy weather, but because of our elevation, we didn’t get hit hard by the frost like other wineries did.
RED: That’s good news! Tell me, Ty, how your career in winemaking began. Are you a lifer?
TY: Actually, I have a background in real estate development. When I was 26 years old, after completing a real estate project, I caught the wine bug. My parents has land in Napa. We became partners, and I began growing grapes.
RED: But that wasn’t enough for you, was it…
TY: No. I had made good friends with our neighbor, who was planting his vineyards at the same time. He turned out to be the winemaker for Ravenswood – and he continues with Ravenswood to this day.
RED: That’s Peter Mathis, right?
TY: Correct. We worked with Peter and, in 2000, released our first vintage. I’ve been honing my winemaking abilities ever since.
RED: I’d say that you’ve done a great job in that regard. Your 2005 Field Blend Red Wine is a super-delicious treat. Here at Wine Spies HQ, we really love the wine.
note: This was the wine we featured last year. We like today’s Malbec even better!]
TY: Thanks. The Field Blend Red is a really special wine. I call it my ‘mini-TyTanium’.
RED: So-called for your TyTanium wine – your flagship, right?
TY: Exactly, but where my TyTanium is a $65 wine, this Field Blend is less than half the price.
RED: We declare the wine to have an exceptional QPR. Its really a great wine, with very distinctive layers of aromas and unique flavors. Its delicious!
TY: I’m glad that you like it. I pick grapes for flavor and blend for maximum effect. I strive to create head turning wines that are rich and deep, yet approachable and fun to drink.
RED: Congratulations, then! You’ve managed just that with all of the Ty Caton wines we have tasted!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Ty Caton Vineyards tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Ty Caton, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
About This Wine:
Abundant ripe berry fruit greets the nose and combines with soft tannins to create a wine that coats the mouth with supple layers of fruit and a silky finish.
About The Winery:
Ty Caton Vineyards is dedicated to creating wines of distinction with an authentic sense of place. Our commitment to excellence begins in the Caton Vineyard, where Winemaker Ty Caton sustainably farms all of the grapes used in our Sonoma Valley wine. As one of the few exclusively estate producers in Sonoma Valley, California, Ty personally works with the grapes from soil to glass. He handcrafts his wines in small lots with an acute awareness of the land that enables him to make wines that truly showcase the vineyards. Ty Caton Vineyards is forging a new definition of quality in winemaking and Actively Seeking Excellence.
About The Vineyard:
CATON VINEYARD – Located in the foothills of Sonoma Valley, the Caton Vineyard is defined by its sustainable farming and belief that healthier vineyards produce very unique and distinctive wines. The vineyards have multiple sun exposures, soil types, and vary in altitude over 300 feet between each other. Our meticulous farming practices showcase the love for our land and our passion for the wines that come from it.
We achieve wines of authenticity by working with nature to showcase the true flavors of the grapes. Ty Caton personally manages the entire winemaking process, from planting the vines, to farming the grapes, to making the wine here in Sonoma Valley. By using exclusively estate grown grapes he is able to have complete control over the process and personally tend to the wine from soil to glass. His acute awareness of the land enables him to make wines that show the great potential of the vineyard site.
Ty Caton’s philosophy is that wine is a natural product and should be treated as such. His winemaking uses limited intervention, which allows the wines to speak for themselves and import the true expression of the vineyard. He ferments with wild yeast that naturally occurs in the grapes so that the wines are manipulated as little as possible. As a Sonoma Valley winemaker and grape grower he strives to produce the ‘wow factor’ by creating wines that are bold, highly extracted and beautifully structured. Ty Caton believes that blending is an art form and uses master blending techniques to combine different grape varieties and clones to create wines with many layers of complexity in aroma and flavor. By allowing the grapes to show their true character and enhancing it through blending, Ty Caton is forging a new definition of quality in Sonoma Valley winemaking.
Varietal: 75% Malbec, 25% Merlot
Appellation: Sonoma Valley
Region: Estate Grown, Caton Vineyard
Production: 240 cases
Winemaker: Ty Caton