Many of you know this from our first vintage in 2015, but 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. I felt the need to craft a more serious pinot noir. 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 crafting this wine, I wanted to tell
the story of those unique sites through their crisp acidity, wonderful flavors,
and rich tannins that these microclimates create.
For the 2016 vintage, and for all future vintages, I decided to add 4 to 5 different song lyrics for each wine label. This came about as Paige and I were building the Spotify playlists for each wine. Time together just simply enjoying music seemed more personal than a single song. Here are the lyrics that you can look for on the Cuvée Troubadour 2016 labels;
And the forest will echo with laughter ….. Stairway to Heaven
So, so you think you can tell ….. Wish You Were Here
Everytime I look in the mirror ….. Dream On
White sand sure makes a tan look nice ..... Cabo Wabo
And there’s a red bridge that arcs the bay ….. Bad Motor Scooter
Blending the 2016 Troubadour Pinot Noir was so much fun with the addition of another cold site planted with the Calera clone. I was able to buy a small amount of fruit from the Graham Family Vineyard near Forestville to add to the Brandt Ranch and Stevens Vineyard. Again, long time Sonoma County farmer and friend Charlie Chenoweth helped me find these vineyards, and assisted in nurturing them through harvest. With the addition of the Calera to the Swan selection, Dijon 777 and Pommard, I was able to capture the mouthwatering textures that these Goldridge soils provide. The wine is a bit broader than the 2015 version with rich tannins, bright raspberry and wild strawberry flavors that finish with a juicy vibrancy. You can taste the sweet herbs and spices that express especially well in cool clime pinot noir. As I learn more about how these vineyard like to be farmed, future vintages will only get much better.
I would consider aging these wines for an additional 3-5 years, but I also believe that they will have some longevity beyond. Cheers!
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.