For mid-week sipping, I pulled from the cellar this Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon from Fortress, which, I admit, I don't recall purchasing or even ever having seen this label before.
Upon further research, I learn this is one of the many numerous brands and labels from the Jackson Family Wines, crafted by Fortress head winemaker Susan Lueker who specializes in Bordeaux varietals for the Kendall-Jackson brand.
Seeking more balance in her career, returning to her farming roots, more in line with her interests in nature, Susan transferred to the University of California, Davis, where she took her first Enology class and fell in love with the vineyards and the winemaking process.
After graduating with a degree in Viticulture and Enology, she took a job in winemaking at Sonoma Valley’s small-production Hacienda Winery where she gained valuable hands-on experience. We visited Hacienda during one of early visits to Sonoma back in the nineties.
Susan continued to hone her skills at Dry Creek Vineyards before joining Simi winery, where she spearheaded all winemaking efforts for almost two decades. In 2019, Susan moved to Jackson Family Wines as the head winemaker for Fortress, capitalizing on her 25 years of expertise and experience in Sonoma County winemaking. She is looking to craft wines that are complex, balanced, and food-friendly.
Susan lives in Healdsburg with her Chef husband, their two dogs, and two cats. She enjoys foods that pair well with wines, watching sports and exercise.
Fortress Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Alexander Valley AVA, Pine Mountain-Cloverdale AVA and the Mendocino Ridge AVA.
It is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec and 9% Merlot.
The rear label says it was aged in "100% Small Barrels, 50% French Oak."
It is available in distribution at under $20 for an everyday casual drinking wine.
It is written that "Fortress Cabernet Sauvignon delivers aromas of dark fruit, mocha and baking spices on the nose. The palate exhibits well integrated tannins that complement the subtle earthy flavors of pomegranate, blackberry and sweet pipe tobacco. With a rich, opulent mouth feel, Fortress is an approachable wine with a silky, lush finish."
The Tasting Panel-Sonoma County, California - "Ripe berry aromas; lush and smooth texture with dense flavors of chocolate as well as ripe plum and boysenberry. Rich, chewy, and long with spice and depth."
Upon opening, I found this uninspiring and a bit obtuse. I put it away for the night and tried it again the next day it was much better. Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, black berry fruit punctuated by a layer of dark mocha chocolate, with notes of black tea, spice and tobacco.
RM 87 points.