2009 Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Mason's Napa

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2009 Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Mason's Napa image
Wine Watch Tasting Notes: A good amount of ripe jammy fruit on the nose cassis and currant berry fruit with a good hand of toasty oak spice, dark chocolate and a hint of eucalyptus. A very big
and ripe style of Cabernet Sauvignon with ripe round tannins very rich and unctuous on the tongue smooth and silky tannins very drinkable style with notes of dark chocolate, big but still balanced. Finish 45 Excellent

Three's a charm. Named after Dennis's third son, this is the Lewis's 3rd bottling of Mason's Cabernet, with previous vintages from 2006 and his birth year 2003. Mason's newest wine is his biggest and best yet. Saturated kirsch-like black fruits mingle seamlessly with savory oak spices in this complex blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (92%), Cabernet Franc (4%), Merlot (2%) and Petit Verdot (2%) all sourced from the same vineyards as their Napa Valley Cabernet. Youthful flavors of berry, malt chocolate and plum turn slightly more serious with supple tannins. 1,200 cases produced.

Information about the Winery:

Lewis Cellars is an offspring of Oakville Ranch Vineyards, one of Napa Valley's most exciting new producers. It all began when Bob Miner (the founder of the highly successful Oracle computer software company) and his wife Mary bought Oakville Ranch in 1989. Longtime friends, Randy and Debbie Lewis, were brought in as limited partners to launch and manage the brand. Lewis has a background unique among vintners in the Napa Valley. From 1970 to 1991, Lewis drove all sorts of race cars and raced in five Indianapolis 500 runs, where he once finished 14th. Debbie, his wife since 1985, is a former wine retailer - she once managed the London Wine Bar in San Francisco and also helped Lewis' race-car career by working with sponsors. Lewis admitted that winding up in the wine business is an unusual turn of events for a guy who has competed with the best from Monte Carlo to Laguna Seca. Born and raised in Atlanta Ga., Lewis came from a family of doctors. Lewis got his bachelor of science degree at San Jose State and then received his master's degree in business administration at UC Berkeley in 1970. "I always wanted to race cars but my family wouldn't let me," he admitted. "By the time I had just about finished college I figured it was an opportunity for me to do what I wanted. I didn't start racing until '69 - I was a late bloomer. But then I couldn't get enough of it, so I started racing full-time." With an advance from a professional team, Lewis took off for Europe in the winter of 1970. "My first race was in Monte Carlo," he said. "I was a bit nervous as there were 125 drivers for 24 slots. Nevertheless, I did all right. I finished 12th." Lewis spent three years in Europe. It was there that he got a bit of education - not only on the track, but in the European lifestyle as well. He learned a great deal about wine and developed a palate for a wide variety of varietals and winemaking styles. "For 23 years I had a great career. But now I can't think of anything I'd rather do," said Lewis.

After the winery was formed, Lewis and Miner decided to go looking for a winemaker. They turned to one of the best in the business - Joe Cafaro. Cafaro was the founding winemaker at Keenan and later worked at Acacia. Since 1985, he has served as consultant to the Jaeger Family Winery, Dalla Valle Vineyards, and Robert Sinskey Vineyards. He is also the founder of Cafaro Cellars, noted for fabulous Merlots and Cabernets. At Oakville Ranch Cafaro practices minimal winemaking intervention and utilizes lots of new French oak barrels to produce a singularly unique Napa Valley hillside Cabernet. From the outset Oakville Ranch Vineyards was a Cabernet star - its debut was one of the best wines produced in the Napa Valley in the very difficult 1989 vintage. The 1990 Cabernet was broad, rich, lush, and complex - ample evidence that great wines can and would be produced at Oakville Ranch. The 1991 vintage, however, heralded the true arrival of Oakville Ranch as a Cabernet superstar. The winery produced three Cabernets in that vintage: a regular bottling, a Reserve, and a Lewis Select. The latter was a really special wine and a significant notch up from the other two Oakville Ranch Cabernets - it was easily one of the top stars of the 1991 vintage. Although only 450 cases were produced, it garnered significant attention for Randy and Debbie Lewis. The Lewis Select was their own personal statement as vintners and set the stage for the Lewises to break away on their own venture.

Within a year after the release of the first Lewis Select Cabernet under the Oakville Ranch label, Randy and Debbie's tenure came to an end. In November of 1994, their business partner, Bob Miner, lost his battle with cancer. Shortly thereafter the Miner family decided to resume full control of the property. Randy and Debbie had accomplished their objective of piloting the Oakville Ranch brand to 4,500 cases and achieving almost overnight recognition for Oakville Ranch among connoisseurs of Napa Valley wines. Bob Miner's nephew Dave assumed management responsibilities; and Randy
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