Strong and Beautiful: 2021 Seven Apart Basalt Cabernet Sauvignon Release

Millions of years ago, a fiery Mount Saint Helena unleashed a torrent of lava and ash billowing down over what we now know as Napa Valley. Since then, much of the land has been cultivated, but certain hard-to-reach areas remain covered in volcanic rock to this day. One such rock is basalt: a dark, igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of lava flows – remnants of that ancient eruption.

Today, some of our Stags Ridge vines thrive atop this very basalt, benefiting from its unique properties. Basalt soil is especially beneficial for growing Cabernet Sauvignon vines for several reasons. Its dark color helps to absorb and retain heat, which can prolong the growing season, allowing grapes to develop more complex flavors. Moreover, the soil’s mineral-rich composition, a legacy of its volcanic origin, provides the vines with essential nutrients, contributing to the distinctive character and depth of our Cabernet Sauvignon. This terroir, marked by its volcanic history, imparts a unique minerality and intensity to the wine. It’s for this very reason that we opted to create our 2021 Seven Apart Basalt Cabernet Sauvignon. A complementary counterpoint to the soft and feminine Seven Apart Shale, Basalt displays an outward strength, structure, and masculinity. With the 2021 vintage ready for release, we caught up with winemaker Morgan Maureze to discuss the nuances of this dark and broody wine.

Small Berries, Big Expectations

Just like the 2021 Shale, the 2021 Seven Apart Basalt benefited from an excellent growing season. Limited winter and spring rains kept yields low, resulting in the creation of concentrated, intensely flavored berries. Ideal summer conditions followed, allowing the grapes to achieve perfect ripeness while retaining their natural acidity. Morgan describes it as a “clear triumphant vintage,” where Mother Nature provided the perfect foundation for an exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. Morgan elaborates: “The season conditions were very favorable for producing high-quality wines. We just respected the vineyards and the generous quality of the fruit by doing night harvesting, low-temperature fermentations to preserve fruit aromas, slow extractions to allow the full body of the wine to develop, and carefully not over-oaking the wines to showcase the quality of the fruit.”

Harvest was quick, with nighttime becoming prime picking time. Between October 6th and 19th, 2021, the grapes were carefully handpicked under the cloak of darkness. This cool night harvest helped minimize oxidation, ensuring the grapes arrived at the cellar as fresh as possible.

Then, the grapes underwent a slow fermentation at cooler temperatures to help preserve all the delicate aromas. After this initial fermentation, the wine journeyed into 72% new French oak barrels. Here, malolactic fermentation took place, a natural process that softens the wine and adds stability. Unfined and unfiltered, finally, the wine was carefully racked off its lees (spent yeast particles) and aged for 24 months in these very barrels before being bottled on December 18th.

A Monolith

The 2021 Seven Apart Basalt marks a special moment in Seven Apart’s story. While Andy Erickson played a major role in crafting this wine, it was bottled under Morgan’s watchful eye. Consistency remains the key.

“Now, you’ve got to remember that back in 2021, when this wine was made, our former winemaker, Andy Erickson, was still at the helm of the cellar,” reminds Morgan. “So this is very much a wine with his touch – although we did work on the final blending process together.”

Reflecting on his time working alongside Andy, Morgan says: “Andy always told me that Basalt is a bit of a monolith within the Seven Apart collection, embodying strength, structure, and an unmistakable masculinity – and it’s true.” Made from these ancient, dark volcanic soils, the real trick, he explains, is to achieve consistency. “Like all grand cru terroirs, the vineyard speaks for itself,” he notes. Without altering fermentation techniques, the intrinsic differences between the vineyards are naturally and equally expressed, allowing the 2021 Seven Apart Basalt to showcase its robust character.

Morgan also reiterates that Seven Apart wine lovers don’t need to worry about any massive changes to the style they’ve come to know and love. “Looking ahead, subtle updates will involve the introduction of the new basecamp vineyard. We have fully transitioned to organic farming, including the complete implementation at Stags Ridge since 2020, and have embraced smaller fermentation batches. These adjustments are all about capturing even greater complexity from the unique character of our vineyards.”

The Wait Is Over

After the 2020 Glass wildfires forced a hiatus, the highly anticipated 2021 Seven Apart Basalt triumphantly returns with the 2021 vintage. This wine is a culmination of three years of meticulous work in the vineyards, and it shows beautifully in the glass. Visually, this wine is a deep crimson color with vibrant aromas of ripe blueberries, prune, dried herbs, and a pleasingly pronounced minerality. A well-balanced wine that greets you with generous soft tannins building to a full-bodied mid-palate culminating in a lengthy, silky finish rife with flavors of cocoa and dried black cherries.

With its pronounced structure and bold personality, the 2021 Seven Apart Basalt pairs beautifully with rich and flavorful foods. Morgan recommends particularly fatty cuts of meat that will stand up well to the wine’s tannins. While approachable upon release for those who enjoy the vibrancy of a youthful Cabernet, this wine will truly reward those who can wait. Morgan shares: “We often underestimate just how long a wine like this can age. Look at well-made 2000 Napa Valley Cabernets crafted in the modern style – they’re still thriving! As long as the Basalt is well-made and cellared properly, we can expect it to age for 20-25 years.”

Of course, Morgan concludes that personal preference matters most: “Ultimately, the best time to enjoy a bottle is when you think you’ll enjoy it the most. Some people love the youthful energy of a young wine, while others prefer the nuanced complexity that develops with bottle age.” The 2021 Seven Apart Basalt caters to both preferences – approachable now, yet capable of rewarding patient cellaring.

With only 9 barrels produced, availability is exclusive to members of our Seven Apart allocation list. As always, we invite you to join us on this journey and enjoy Napa at its peak.

Sign up here if you’re ready to become a member of our allocation list.