Marietta Cellars

Game Trail Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Yorkville Highlands, California

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The Yorkville Highlands are the mountain pass between the north end of Alexander Valley and the west end of Anderson Valley. From a high elevation site with coastal influence and large diurnal shifts, the Game Trail Cabernet offers an intense, fragrant, savory, and fresh style of Cabernet that speaks of site and demands to be paired with food. This area, with trails worn by mushroom hunters and wild game that travel through the woods, was a refuge for Chris Bilbro, who hunted here and searched for Chanterelles. The mushroom on the label is a tribute to this unique place and its purity and wildness.

The estate series from Marietta is made with terroir in mind above all else. For many years these sites were included in blends, though they routinely stood out as extraordinary. These wines are true expressions of unique sites, crafted with freshness, tension and longevity in mind.

Vineyard

The small block of Cabernet Sauvignon used for the Game Trail Cabernet is perched looking south from 1,400 feet elevation up on the ridge. Coastal influence and large diurnal swings create small berries, thick skins, deep pigmentation, and tons of structure. Clone 6 Cabernet sets sparingly with berries the size of blueberries and no fruit to fruit contact, so it is cane pruned and left to hang as many clusters as possible.

Winemaking

Fermented in stainless steel tanks and barrel aged in neutral French oak barrels for 20 months before bottling.

Vintage

The 2018 Harvest was a grower’s dream, but it was not without its exciting moments. Spring rains encouraged healthy roots and set up great canopies. The fruit set and cluster development were flawless. Then August and September clocked in as mild, even bordering on cool. The crop’s development potentially started stalling out, but the vines kept working and the first lovely, perfectly ripe fruit was harvested in September. Early October rains soaked the second half of the crop and elicited fears of rot and fruit loss as more storms lined up. Miraculously, the storms failed to materialize, providing a long, dry October and November with beautiful sunny days which slowly ripened the remaining crop. Long seasons like these allow early tannin maturation while the cool weather protects the acid…. all leading to developed, powerful tannins with bright acid at lower than typical brix.

Tasting Note

Red currant and blackberries jump from the glass and are balanced by supporting aromas of pinon pine and anise. This textural adventure moves from chewy to fine grained tannins to finish cleanly with a refreshingly focused fore mouth. The palate mixes the exuberance of blueberry jam with the mineral dustiness of crushed gravel. Evocative and ethereal while also structural and impactful, this is a Cabernet that develops in the glass and will yield years of beautiful expressions.

Food Pairing

This wine begs for grilled asparagus, roasted mushrooms, and blistered tomatoes with boar collar or a rib roast.

Color

Red

Grape Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon

Appellation

Yorkville Highlands, California

Farming

The Game Trail Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is made from 100% estate fruit, all of which is organically farmed

Alcohol

14.8%

Suggested Retail Price

$42

Reviews

"Flavorful finish"

James Suckling - "A full-bodied red with blackberry, black-chocolate and walnut aromas and flavors. Bark and sweet tobacco. Mint, too. Flavorful finish. Cloves and black pepper to the fruit at the end." - J.S. 

"Intense aromas of black fruits"

Wine Advocate (94+ ) - "Medium ruby-purple, the 2018 Game Trail Cabernet Sauvignon has intense aromas of black fruits with accents of tar, earth, iron and leather. The palate is full-bodied and grainy with broody, still youthfully wound fruits and appealing hints of gravel, mint and spice that hint at more development to come with another couple of years in bottle." - E.B. 

Trade Materials

Other Wines by this Producer

Old Vine Red

California, United States

Affectionately known as "OVR," Marietta's Old Vine Red is a proprietary red wine made to replicate the field blends of the old vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. A groundbreaking combination of grape varitieis and multiple vintages first produced in 1982, this wine has blazed the path for red blends for decades. With an historic underground following, it is one of the longest lasting and best known red blends produced today. Predominantly comprised of Zinfandel, Old Vine Red combines pure fruit, a supple mouth feel and a rich, solid structure.

Old Vine Rosé

California, United States

Marietta's Old Vine Rosé is a perfect extension of the Old Vine series. Made in a Provençale, direct-press style from some of the oldest Syrah and Grenache vines in California, it is fresh, nuanced, and perfectly balanced to enjoy with food or on its own. As always with the "OVR" wines, it delivers a lot more substance and pleasure than you could expect.

Old Vine Riesling

California, United States

Marietta's Old Vine Riesling is the most recent and unique extension of the Old Vine series (or "OVR"). Originally intended as a gift for Scot's partner, Lisa, who is German, the bone dry style of Riesling became a fan favorite and permanent addition. While it is the only wine is the lineup that is not estate grown, it comes from some of California's oldest Riesling vines and offers an extraordinary value and delightful drinking experience.

Román Zinfandel

North Coast, California

Named after cellarmaster Román Cisneros who has worked at Marietta for over 32 years, this Estate Zinfandel is from the Angeli estate vineyard in Alexander Valley and the McDowell Valley estate vineyard. One of the grape varieties that Marietta is famous for, this wine captures the bright, juicy character of Zinfandel, and hearkens to an era before dark, thick and oaky styles of Zinfandel took hold.

Armé Cabernet Sauvignon

North Coast, California

Named after Armé, the husband of Marietta and great-great uncle of Owner/Winemaker Scot Bilbro, this Cabernet Sauvignon conveys a taut freshness and aromatic purity. Stylistically balanced between modern California and Old World, this wine is dense with fresh, dark fruit and tempered with a savory, earthy character. The dry fly on the label is a reference to Chris Bilbro's long family history of fishing with his great uncle Armé along the waterways that now adjoin the three estate vineyards.

Christo Red Blend

North Coast, California

Named and styled after Chris Bilbro, affectionately called "Christo" by his great-aunt Marietta, this Rhone varietal blend is gentle but powerful, pleasurable but deep, and refined while raw. An ode to Scot's father and founder of Marietta Cellars, this blend is largely Syrah from the McDowell estate, blended with Petite Sirah from the Angeli Estate and Grenache from the Yorkville Highlands Estate. The pig snout on the label is a reminder of how Chris Bilbro made wild boar sausage and carted his creations around the country to share with chefs and wine lovers alike as he sold Marietta wines.

Angeli Zinfandel

Alexander Valley, California

Marietta Cellars sits at the entrance to a small canyon off Alexander Valley. Known as Angeli Ranch after the family who originally settled there in 1886, the property’s vineyards connect gravel swales from the Russian River to terraced knolls invisible from the valley floor. The extremes of this site create a wine that is powerful but has surprising elegance and clarity.

Gibson Block Syrah

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Made from the oldest Syrah vines in California, in the heart of the McDowell Valley AVA, this wine reflects the hidden property where it is grown - quiet, obscure and profound. This ancient, dry farmed, mixed block next to the original Gibson Homestead has been producing grapes for over a hundred years. Limited in production due to the unique grape source, this wine is built to enjoy with food.