I like to think of Troubadour as the ultimate paradox. Historically a troubadour was someone who roamed around the countryside, making up whimsical stories and songs about love and life. But this is a pretty serious wine. The grapes that I chose for this wine were specific clones from specific vineyards in the Russian River Valley—familiar territory. These vineyards are in some of the cooler parts of the appellation. Therein lies the paradox. Many perceive the Russian River Valley as hot, but the truth is the region cools down quickly in the evenings of warm summer days. In making this wine, I wanted to tell the story of those unique neighborhoods through the crisp acidity, wonderful flavors, and rich tannins that this coolness creates.
The song lyric I chose for this label comes from “Comfortably Numb,” a song written by one of my all-time favorite guitarists, David Gilmour: “You’re only coming through in waves…” I think this line can have a lot of different meanings, from how you converse with other people, to how you hear music, to how you taste wine. For me, it represents my personal paranoia of my winemaking and hoping that I always “connect” with the people drinking my wines. The enjoyment experience of wine is a very personal thing that can be altered easily by any one of our senses. It always tastes better when we are having fun with close friends, listening to our favorite bands, or sitting at the top of a mountain. With this wine, hopefully I’ve found that “wave” that will connect us.
To pull this wine together, I blended several clones and selections such as Swan, Pommard, and Dijon 777 to maximize attributes and minimize defects. Brandt Ranch and Stevens Vineyard are the special sites with which we partnered in 2015. Long time Sonoma County farmer and friend Charlie Chenoweth helped me find these vineyards, and assisted in nurturing them through harvest.
Vintage Notes: In 2015, the growing season presented itself with varying degrees of difficulty. The fourth consecutive drought year brought additional stress to the vines and inclement Spring weather limited the crop load throughout Sonoma County. In general the 2015’s are rich, full and concentrated, but will need some bottle aging to bring them around to their full potential. The 2015 Troubadour pinot noir has complex ripe aromas of wild cherries and raspberries, violets, citrus blossom, Asian spice, green tea and truffle fill your glass. You can almost smell the rich Goldridge soils that nurture these vineyards. In your mouth the ripe wild raspberry & cherry flavors explode with a nice balance of cardamom, sassafras, Morel mushrooms and juicy acidity at 6.1g/L titratable acidity and a pH of 3.52. The ripe, somewhat youthful tasting, tannins are complimented by the concentration of fruit and long succulent finish that is balanced by a 14.2% bottled alcohol. While I know it is going to be difficult to hold on to them, I believe they will age nicely for 5-7 years and will go well with some Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Tom Petty (the fermenters enjoyed them during harvest!).
The Label Story
My wife Heather and I were fortunate enough to work with Byron Hoffman on our label design. This process was developed though several meetings at our home in Healdsburg that would sometimes last four or five hours. We talked about our family, my passion for music (rock ‘n’ roll in particular), how the wine business has provided us with an amazing life, and why we decided to pursue this project. We believe Byron very much captured our vision. This was one of the most rewarding processes I have ever been through. It seemed to finally bring our dream to life.
I adamantly resisted having my name “splashed” across the labels, so it may take a much closer look to find it. “Bob Cabral Wines” was used because the name “Cabral” had already be trademarked by a North American company importing Portuguese ports. That was just fine with me. We have used proprietary names for each wine. Each of those names has personal meaning and significance, those names have the largest font you’ll see on each label. Appellation, varietal, and vintage also are visible, since those are the most relevant information to any wine label. Byron deftly added many subtle elements from my fascination of old concert posters: the “bleeding” of color and backward lettering in a sort of balloon font to the color and texture of the paper stock we used. Each label also has a fragment of song lyric that I chose for a number of different reasons. Each is unique and meaningful to me, and I hope you find your own inspiration or muse as you enjoy the wines.
Rat De Cave
The French candle-stand called “Rat de Cave” or Cellar Rat, was the essential working tool used in the wine cellars of Burgundy. Its origin stems from far back in the past. In the year 1000 the Monks of the famous Abbey of Cluny, near Vougeot, used it to illuminate the caves that housed their wine barrels. This provided them with the necessary light to work with the wine barrels throughout the vintage. During fermentation, the colour of the flame showed the eventual evolution of gases as the wines underwent a chemical transformation. The Monks then knew to leave the caves due to lack of oxygen - a “canary” if you will. The handle or “rats tail” provides an easy grip and the hook permits to hang the stand on a nail or the head of an oak barrel. This would allow the Monks to rack the clear wine off of the heavy sediment or lees.
We chose this “tool” as a tribute or symbol to the traditional Burgundian methods I am using to craft our wines. Incorporating these traditions is an essential part of my winemaking thought process and vision - plus it’s really cool. You will not see this symbol on any of our labels, but should become quite familiar with it on the end of our bottle capsules. We hope that the flame inspires everyone towards a world of hope, peace and love.