The Wines of Chris Dearden
A third generation Californian, Chris Dearden has been crafting fine wines in Napa Valley for over 25 years. He attended UC Davis, developing his own major of Winery Operations and Management. Upon graduation, he held winemaking positions at William Hill, Madonna Estate, and Beaulieu Vineyard/Inglenook/Christian Brothers. He then returned back to school to receive his MBA at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.
Today, he has created a portfolio of carefully crafted wines, including Sleeping Giant, Two Iron, Trainwreck and Argus.
Sleeping Giant Cabernet Sauvignon, Inglewood Vineyard, St. Helena
The Smith and Toma Families planted this tiny, hand-tended Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in 2004. Low yield and high quality are the mainstays for this silty, well-drained clay loam soil in the heart of St. Helena Appellation. The Grace Family Clone was planted in this vineyard for its’ excellence of flavor and color development. Very little water is needed to coax the vines to produce a powerful, yet elegant wine. Each year, the vine roots seek deeper in the soil to establish their presence and gain strength to pass on to the progeny in the form of fruit.
The 2015 growing season started with a very early bud break due to a warm spring. Less than ideal conditions during bloom resulted in a challenging set, which lead to yields being down by about 30%. Warmer conditions continued through an early veraison in July. With the lighter crop, sugars rose faster than anticipated and harvest came historically early. Hand harvested clusters were destemmed into a small fermenter and hand punched three times daily for nearly a month of maceration. After gentle pressing, the wine was placed in tight-grained French oak barrels for almost 24 months prior to bottling. The wine was racked several times over the aging process, and is a testament to the perfect iron rich soils, climate and exposure of the St. Helena Appellation.
Vineyard Location: Inglewood Vineyard, St. Helena, California
Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Production: 4 barrels produced
Sleeping Giant Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville
The 2015 is our second designated vintage to be produced from the newest and 16th appellation in Napa Valley - Coombsville. The grapes were sourced from a small vineyard on Olive Hill Lane in Napa. Low yield and exceptional quality are the hallmarks of this newest appellation.
The 2015 growing season started with a very early bud break due to a warm spring. Less than ideal conditions during bloom resulted in a challenging set, which lead to yields being down by about 30%. Warmer conditions continued through an early veraison in July. With the lighter crop, sugars rose faster than anticipated and harvest came historically early. The fruit was hand harvested and rushed to the winery where it was destemmed into a small, open topped fermenter. It fermented on the skins to extract all the color and flavor possible. The wine was lightly pressed and then placed in small, French oak barrels for upwards of 24 months.
Vineyard Location: Olive Hill Lane, Napa, California (Coombsville Appellation)
Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Production: 4 barrels produced
Sleeping Giant Chardonnay, Buena Tierra Vineyard, Russian River Valley
The Russian River has been renowned for great Chardonnay and Pinot noir for decades due to the thin, loamy soils and foggy, cool growing seasons. Buena Tierra is a hallmark vineyard from which Sleeping Giant Chardonnay emanates. The fruit on these old vines, which were planted upwards of 49 years ago, yield excellent flavors and aromas.
The golden ripe fruit is whole cluster pressed and the introduction of “native” or “indigenous” yeast is the key element to winemaking for the BT Chardonnay. Stirring weekly adds the clean, yeasty notes evident in the wine. The fermentation is long and deliberate with malo-lactic fermentation sometimes completing six months after harvest. Patience is virtuous as good things do not happen overnight for this wine from these old, nutrient deficient vines, but the reward is worth the effort to make this highest expression of Chardonnay.
Two Iron, Napa Valley
The 2013 vintage was early, even and excellent from a grower and winemaker perspective. A warm, dry spring brought early bud break, created ideal conditions for flowering and fruit set under sunny skies. Other than one heat spike, the vintage continued without incident, allowing the slow maturity of most varietals. The harvest began and finished about two weeks earlier than normal, and a few light spots of rain only served to knock the dust off the fruit prior to harvest in late September. Cabernet from low yielding vineyards in prime locations and “old-vine” dry farmed Merlot combined to make this wine delicious and age-worthy.
Trainwreck, North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon
The 2015 vintage will not disappoint! The TrainWreck is a blend of select lots of Cabernet Sauvignon from different North Coast vineyards, which enables us to pull the best to create this well balanced crowd pleaser.
The fruit for this wine was gently destemmed and fermented in tank for about 20 days each prior to pressing and placing in small, new and once used American and French oak cooperage. It was aged for over 12 months prior to bottling.
The 2016 vintage was excellent! Although it was a drought year, the vines produced amazing fruit. An ideal spring followed by just the right amount of heat in the summer resulted in the perfect hang time of the fruit to develop full flavor and aroma in the fruit and juice. An early kick off to the harvest and even weather allowed us to enjoy another great vintage. The grapes were all hand-picked and sorted prior to destemming at the winery. We traditionally farm for low yields which contributes to great concentration of color, aroma and flavor.
The 2016 version of Argus Pinot Noir is ample and opulent immediately. The vintage provided for an excellent framework for producing this wine. Small batches of fruit were conveyed into open-topped fermenters with some whole clusters added for complexity and a little more tannin. Punch downs and an occasional pump over were employed to extract the color and flavor in the most gentle fashion. After 20 days of total maceration, the wine was pressed lightly and placed into 100% French oak barrels (20% new) for 11 months. It was bottled without fining and with only a light filtration. The soft texture and full-flavored composition of this juicy, aromatic and medium bodied blend of vineyard Pinot noirs is always a crowd pleaser. It is generous in flavor with Bing cherry, watermelon jolly rancher candy, all-spice, dusty rose petal and maple syrup.
Vineyard Location: Dearden and Doucette Vineyards, Carneros, Napa Valley
Blend: 100% Pinot noir (Clones: 115, Pommard and 777)
Production: 433 cases, 750ml