Araujo Estate is a highly sought-after Californian wine with a loyal following among sommeliers and fine wine collectors. Owners Daphne and Bart Araujo attribute the quality and success of the wine to the "star of the winery", the grapevine. The vineyard has a long history and was established in the 1880s. In 1964 the first cabernet sauvignon vine was planted.
The Araujos have paid meticulous attention to the vineyard and use biodynamic viticultural practices. Biodynamics is a sustainable way of farming and adopts a holistic view of the vineyard. It eschews the use of synthetic chemicals and uses homeopathic methods to address vineyard issues.
Bart believes that "biodynamics has improved vine health. It means the vine never gets too excited and stays calm through stressful periods". For example, drought may suppress vine growth and delay the ripening process. Biodynamics can help produce a balanced wine, more consistency in wine style and less vintage variation.
A minimalist approach is adopted in winemaking. Natural yeasts are used and the wines are not filtered. The goal is to let the wines to show "the purest expression of the vineyard."
The Araujos draw inspiration from first-growth Chateau Latour and admire the wine's "freshness, incredible structure and the ability of the wine to dance on the palate". In a warm growing climate, Californian wines are not known for their subtlety and are characterised by their voluptuous ripe fruit, power and high alcohol content. Araujo is the antithesis of this. The hallmark style of the Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon is old-world restraint, and the wine is replete with "black fruit, blackcurrant, minerality, tobacco and herbal notes".
Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Made of 99 per cent cabernet sauvignon, with petit verdot and cabernet franc making up the remainder. In terms of style, Bart says the wine "bridges the gap between the new and old world". It is a wine that is ripe in fruit style, but also has balance and structure.
Restrained black fruit, wild herbs and earthy notes. Powerful with intense fruit, crisp acidity and firm underlying tannins. Elegantly structured, but very youthful with ageing capacity of at least 10 years. Will need decanting to allow wine to open up. HK$2,750
Araujo Estate Altagracia 2009
Altagracia is Araujo's second wine made from estate-grown grapes and those sourced from two other Napa Valley properties. This cabernet-dominant blend includes merlot, petit verdot and cabernet franc, with some malbec.
Vibrant spectrum of red fruits with black cherries and ripe raspberries. Full-bodied with soft tannins and well integrated oak. Approachable and ready to drink. HK$829
Araujo Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Unlike most sauvignon blancs, which are made for short-term enjoyment, the Araujo version has cellaring potential. Bart says that as the wine matures it is more akin to old white Burgundy than white Bordeaux in style. Ripe exotic tropical fruit notes with hints of guava and pineapple. Full bodied, with well-balanced acidity and a long finish. Bart recommends this wine with dim sum. HK$529
All wines available from Altaya (altayawines.com)