2020 I. Brand & Family Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bates Ranch Vineyard, Old Vines, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Winemaker Ian Brand has been making a fine Bordeaux inspired Cabernet Franc from this Bates Ranch Vineyard for many years and he wasn’t sure he needed another Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, as he already had the prized Monte Bello Road version, but we are lucky he decided to bring the Bates Cab grapes in too, especially as this new 2020 is a spectacular wine that is going to blow some freaking minds, it may just be one of the sleepers of the vintage! When the world discovers that most of the 2020 Napa wines are seriously flawed by smoke taint and begin to look elsewhere, this is going to be a wine to have, as this site had a perfect, no smoke, harvest with incredible depth and concentration on offer with true varietal character from black currant, blackberry, plum and dark cherry fruit to its sweet tannin, cut tobacco, anise, acacia flower, sandalwood and spicy sage accent, it is a deep purple/garnet joy in the glass! While obviously a true California example and 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, there is the same pleasure and light loaminess that I get from classic Medoc Bordeaux wines, it is something that this terroir delivers. Located along the historic Redwood Retreat Road close to Gilroy, the Bates Ranch was settled near Mount Madonna in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, where the Bates Family has been growing top quality grapes for four generations now. The area is sees a generous climate for Bordeaux varietals, especially good for Cab Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, highlighted by warm days and cool nights, resulting in fabulous wines like this one and notably Ian Brand’s outstanding Cab Franc, as well. The 2020 Old Vines Bates Cabernet Sauvignon truly shines with air and food, it has age worthy structure, but remarkably supple in its youthful freshness, I might suggest aging a few bottles, especially at this price!

The Bates Ranch Cabernet was planted back in 1978 and set is on red Franciscan series, iron rich and gravelly volcanic soils that delivers a striking mineral elegance and warm ripeness. It is crazy that Bates Ranch doesn’t get the headlines it deserves, but Brand has certainly made a wine here that makes a case for greatness, especially in this vintage, it is something he relishes, turning little known or under appreciated sites into stars. Ian Brand says he didn’t really set out to make these wines, it was just that he discovered some great vineyards at the very edge of what could be called sensible farming and felt the desire and the need to bring them into the light, the rest they say is history, and over the last 10 or so years he has been responsible for resurrecting some of the most treasured sites in the central coast. He adds that the farther he looked, the more he found – remote, challenging vineyards, with hard depleted soils, and intense sunlight tempered only by the cool coastal breezes. These unique vineyards are capable of producing only the most idiosyncratic of wines, soulful expressions of place and history. Brand highlights, that the goal as winemakers is to lightly polish the roughest edges, but to leave the idiosyncrasy of these wines and grapes intact, for which it is clear when you taste his wines, that he has done and with delicious success. For his Cabernet wines, like this old vine site in the southeastern zone of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Brand employed a traditional fermentation and maceration, with careful sorting and de-stemming of the grapes and an elevage in mostly used French barrels, though in recent years he’s used some larger Austrian oak too, with just enough new wood to do the job. I am very impressed with the latest set of wines here and I highly recommend getting this stunner, which is just now being released, and keep an eye out for the Bates Cab Franc and Brand’s latest Grenache, signature offerings, which are just delicious as well.
($48 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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