Worth the Wait: 2021 Seven Apart Shale Cabernet Sauvignon Release

In the world of fine wine, patience is more than a virtue – it’s a necessity. Back in September 2020, our patience was truly tested when the devastating Glass Fire swept through the vineyards of Northern California. While Seven Apart’s winery escaped physical harm, smoke taint rendered our prized Stags Ridge grapes unusable. Faced with this challenge, we made a tough call – to not produce wine from the tainted grapes that year, putting our Seven Apart Shale, Basalt, and Summit releases on hold. But as the seasons changed, so did our fortunes. 2021 brought with it a perfect blend of weather conditions, and we harvested from Stags Ridge once again. This February, we’re absolutely delighted to present a vintage that, in our opinion, was worth the wait: the 2021 Seven Apart Shale Cabernet Sauvignon. We sat down with our winemaker Morgan Maureze, to discuss this first and highly-anticipated release from the 2021 collection. 

“A Vintage That Carries Both Our Touch”

Perched at 1450 feet on Atlas Peak, the Stags Ridge vineyard experienced a harvest like no other. Morgan Maureze reflects on 2021 with a sense of awe, saying:

“It was an amazing, amazing year – but patience was once again key. The season leading up to harvest was marked by limited winter and spring rains. We had to wait for the autumn rains, but when they eventually arrived, everything fell into place beautifully.” 

These drought-like conditions, coupled with an ideal summer, resulted in smaller, concentrated berries packed with flavor, setting the stage for a vintage that promised intensity and balance.

Upon receiving the green light for harvest, the 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Stags Ridge were meticulously handpicked under the cloak of night. This night harvest was a strategic choice, ensuring the grapes remained cool and unoxidized upon their arrival in the cellar. Once the lug boxes arrived for pressing, Morgan explained that the approach, as always, was to “honor the fruit in its purest form”.

In the cellar, the grapes underwent a gentle, slow fermentation at lower temperatures, a deliberate choice to safeguard their rich aromas. After fermentation, the wine was transferred to 57% new French Oak barrels, undergoing malolactic fermentation to soften and stabilize the wine. The wine was then racked off its lees and aged for 24 months in barrels before it was bottled and became ready for release.

Back in 2021, our former winemaker, Andy Erickson, was still at the forefront of Seven Apart. However, by the middle of last year, when blending for the 2021 Seven Apart Shale commenced, Morgan had already joined Andy at the winery.

“This is why, in my view, the Seven Apart Shale symbolizes one of our first joint endeavors at Seven Apart. It signifies a period of transition, a time when Andy was in the process of passing the baton to me. It’s a vintage that carries both our touch,” Maureze acknowledges.

As Morgan begins to imprint his style on the Seven Apart wines, he explains some of the subtle changes he envisions for upcoming vintages: 

“For me, it’s about nurturing the Stags Ridge vineyard to reach its full potential. Andy made some adjustments to the canopy and increased irrigation to push the vineyard further. Now, it’s my journey to continue that process. I aim to further subdivide the parcels, capturing even more nuances. My goal is to enhance the complexity of our wines. This approach requires additional effort, but it gives us better control over the blending process, allowing us to craft wines with more precision than ever.”

An Intensely Powerful Wine In Its Own Right

It’s undeniable that the virtue of patience has certainly been tested in anticipation of the 2021 Seven Apart Shale Cabernet Sauvignon. Three years in the making, the wait is now over, and the good news is that this wine is already wonderfully approachable upon release, especially for those who appreciate the vibrancy of young wines.

“Like any classic Cabernet, the Seven Apart Shale will of course benefit from another 5-8 years of age in the bottle. Yet it already offers a more nuanced and softer profile compared to the Basalt and the Summit. I truly appreciate the soft, silky tannin profile that this wine brings to the fore,” shares Morgan. But rest assured, this doesn’t make it a lesser Cabernet Sauvignon by any means. “It’s still an extreme mountain-grown Cabernet, an intensely powerful wine in its own right,” he adds.  

Seven Apart Shale shows a deep, intense burgundy hue in the glass. The fruit aromatics are fresh and vibrant – ripe blackberries and black cherries are joined by hints of baking spice, chocolate and a soft minerality. The palate illustrates the power and suppleness of the 2021 vintage, creating a gentle yet confident progression to a rich mid-palate balanced with soft tannins. The finish is lasting and luscious, brimming with dried black plum, black cherry, and floral notes. “The Seven Apart Shale is exceptionally smooth and rich, yet it maintains a perfect balance, making it a particularly remarkable wine,” ends Morgan.

This wine not only offers immediate enjoyment but also promises to evolve gracefully over the next 25 years. With only 9 barrels crafted, the 2021 Seven Apart Shale Cabernet Sauvignon is now available exclusively by allocation. These grapes, captured at their peak, are transformed into wine intended to be enjoyed at its peak too.

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