The 2020 Vintage at B Cellars
A conversation with Master Winemaker Kirk Venge and General Manager Curtis Strohl
The Bottom Line
A Deeper Dive
Articles from Jeb Dunnuck and Esther Mobley
Key Takeaways From The 2020 Vintage At B Cellars
Great vineyards produce wines possessing unique and singular qualities, a phenomenon known as terroir. Yet every new vintage presents a unique imprint of that singular growing season. Constancy of quality combined with vintage variability.
The selection of rare wines that we craft from Andy Beckstoffer’s collection of Heritage vineyards represent the apex of this powerful relationship between terroir and vintage.
The 2020 vintage, of course, provided some unique challenges. With wildfires raging across the North Bay, and smoke hanging over the area for weeks, many grapes simply could not be made into fine wine. But as B Cellars Winemaker Kirk Venge says. 2020 “was a vintage of proximity and timing.”
In each of these vineyards, we harvest from separate blocks. A block is a physical section of the vineyard. In each block, there is a unique combination of vine age, varietal and clone, rootstock, trellising, and soils. This means that blocks can ripen at different rates and therefore we harvest them at separate times.
In Beckstoffer’s To Kalon, Missouri Hoopper, and Dr. Crane vineyards, we picked some blocks before the outbreak of the Glass Fire, meaning that we were able to craft excellent wines from these blocks, wines that represented the beauty of the 2020 vintage prior to the wildfires. For most of the growing season, we experienced near-perfect weather patterns.
The blocks that did not ripen prior to the outbreak of the Glass Fire were discarded. “We didn’t make a lot of wine [in 2020] but we did make was excellent.”
2020 Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
The aroma is bright and earthy, with brandied cherries, cassis, figs, and cloved covered orange peels. Dried cherries, licorice, dates, and plums dance across your palate. These candied, dried fruits are balanced by an undertone of forest floor and espresso. This wine has an ethereal presence that is balanced by smooth velvety tannins on the finish.
2020 Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Brilliantly aromatic, showing a softer, prettier side of the typically powerful Oakville palate. Ripe aromatics of blackberry and raspberry pie and cassis are lifted with fresh floral notes, pekoe tea and cinnamon, cardamom, cedar, and espresso. The palate is full of fresh fruit flavors, bramble berries, strawberry, cherry, and plum with a bright acidity and a lively tannic structure.
2020 Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
The aromas are expressive of dark fruit; blackberry, huckleberry, dried currants, and brewed espresso. The mouthfeel is heavy, full, and covers the entirety of the palate. The flavors mirror the aromas perfectly. Graphite, slate, and cocoa bean balance the dark fruit. The taste is dynamic, building to a crescendoed burst of acidity and melding into a long, gripping, tannic finish. Everything that you love about the Dr. Crane vineyard is highlighted in this vintage.
I enjoyed all of the bottles- but for me the To Kalon was supreme. From nose to finish it was a truly enjoyable experience. I appreciate the complexity of this wine, and this gives me confidence of quality of the 2020 vintage.
Thank you so much for the feedback. To Kalon is such a special property and produces some of the best grapes for winemaking in the entire world. We’re very proud of the wines we made in 2020, even though there is such a limited amount. We will never make and sell wine that doesn’t meet our standards and your trust in us means everything. Cheers!!