J. Derek Beitler was raised in southern Oregon and spent his summers helping out at his family’s winery, ‘Caymus’ in Rutherford, Napa Valley, which was founded by his grandparents, Charlie and Lorna and his uncle, Chuck Wagner. He mostly did odd jobs working the bottling line or cleaning tanks yet was eventually exposed to winemaking in the cellar. He graduated with a B.A. degree in Environmental Science from the University of Oregon in 2005 but knew he was destined to work in wine and moved to Occidental in western Sonoma County the following year to help his brother out with harvest. That experience was all he needed to confirm his official entry into the family business. In 2007, he founded JDB Wines and released his first single vineyard Syrah from Sonoma Coast and a Viognier from Santa Lucia Highlands under the Bodega Rancho label. He moved to Napa in 2010 and started the Carne Humana label with his cousin Joey (Joseph Wagner) and has since expanded his portfolio to include three other labels: Shyhook, which focuses on Rhône varietals, Tableau with Riesling from Santa Lucia Highlands and Cerro, featuring Merlot, Zinfandel and Petit Verdot he sources from the Cerrito Vineyard in Napa Valley.
Petit Verdot has always been used as a minor blending grape in concert with its Bordeaux varietal partners: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec and is rarely made into a single varietal wine in Napa Valley. Yet Derek believed in its potential to make something compelling and worth experiencing on its own. He has done just that with this richly textured, dark-fruited example he aged for 30 months in 30% new French oak barrels. The 2014 is the second release of the Cerro 100% Petit Verdot and it was a happy coincidence that Derek had two consecutive superlative vintages (unfortunately thanks to the drought) to premiere this unique wine. The color is dark and opaque with purple-ruby edges indicating this is not only a unique wine, but a very serious one. Aromas on the nose are pungent with ripe notes of blackberry, sweet red plum, clove, saddle leather and dried violets. The full-bodied palate is rich with layers of flavors from blackberry jam to baked plum to chocolate mousse and spiced nuts. The wine ends on a spicy and minty note with sweet, ripe tannins. Only 285 cases were made.