Grapelive: Wine of the Day February 24, 2019

2015 I. Brand & Family Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monte Bello Road, Santa Cruz Mountains -photo grapelive

2015 I. Brand & Family Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monte Bello Road Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Ian Brand’s 2015 Monte Bello Road Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz mountains, is what you get when you respect great terroir and follow a traditional path of winemaking, it captures the essence of place perfectly with a subtlety that is almost lost in the modern world of Cabernet Sauvignon, Brand’s effort is more along the lines of the famous neighboring winery to this vineyard, Ridge Vineyards, as well as Mount Eden, Corison and Phillip Togni, which should tell you just how good his effort is! After working a few vintages with this vineyard and its farming, Brand has fine tuned everything and makes for a wine that has purity of fruit, richness of palate and graceful balance, he was able to get wonderful ripeness, density and length with low natural alcohol, in fact at around 13% and the hillside fruit’s power you get an almost perfect Margaux like quality, as I noted with his last vintage of monte Bello Road, and it reminds me of the early nineties in style, making for a stylish, age worthy and energetic Cabernet Sauvignon.

Grown at close the 2,000 ft on red Franciscan series soils with limestone the Ian Brand Monte Bello Road Cabernet Sauvignon comes from vines that were planted mostly in the nineties at Fellom Ranch with a warm eastern exposure allowing for warm daytime temperatures with a large diurnal change from day to night, which aids in retaining acidity. This area is prime Cabernet country and is an outstanding individual place for these grapes, as Ridge has proven for many decades. This unique hillside terroir rivals any in the world, not just the state for complex and depth, this is great dirt for Cabernet Sauvignon and Ian has crushed it with this 2015.

The beautifully detailed, deep opaque garnet/purplel I. Brand & Family Monte Bello Road Cabernet Sauvignon really puts on the charm right out of the gate with acacia flowers, dark berries and whiff of cedar before leading to a youthful firm medium full palate of structured form and poise with layers of black currant, plum, blackberry and kirsch, along with hints of sandalwood, licorice, sweet tobacco leaf, summer sage and faint vanilla and spicy note. Made with an exceptionally deft touch, this 2015, from a warm vintage shows a fresh vigor and lightness that is gorgeous in the glass, and while stunning even now, I think it promises much more in the future, I look forward to try this Cab again, in 5 to 7 years, and while the 2014 seems amped up and more dense, I think the 2015 has the stuffing to go 15 to 20 years.

Ian and his team have been getting lots of critical acclaim, and especially the recent Winemaker of the Year award from the San Francisco Chronicle, all which are well deserved for this small hardworking family winery. Being close to his facility and able to run into him often has been great to get an insight into his passion and dedication, for which I’m grateful, it has helped me see where there regions, of Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Mountains, are going with this great set of young winemaking talents that are pushing these areas forward with a new vitality and driven focus. Ian Brand, a vineyard whisperer, has discovered a few old vine sites and guided them into stardom, including the site where this wine comes from, but also the Besson Vineyard for Grenache, Bayly Ranch for Cabernet Franc and the Enz Vineyard for old vine Mourvèdre. All of which are must have wines, released under his signature line, they are do not miss limited production offerings, that showcase authentic character and place, they are California history in the bottle.
($65 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive