"In some vintages, the decision about when to pick is a tough judgment call as we closely follow the maturation of the grapes` flavors and tannins. Both Chris Phelps and I found this vintage less demanding, as we achieved the level of ripeness we were seeking from area to area in the vineyard with perfect, rain-free weather conditions. This was a great vintage mainly due to Mother Nature, who gave us a cool, long summer and held off the winter until true physiological ripeness occurred and all the grapes were off the vines. Due to the cool start of the growing season, we did even more cluster thinning than usual to balance the crop load on each vine and ensure maturity. The resulting yields were only about half of normal, but the quality of the Cabernet Sauvignon was extraordinary. In the small vineyard blocks that consistently produce grapes of the level we require for the Special Selection designation, the flavors were lush and substantial, and the tannins had a ripe, melt-in-the-mouth quality. We hand-harvested the grapes from September 25 through October 18. In many ways, the 1999 vintage wine made itself. Overnight after crushing, we saw intense color and great concentration in the juice, which only deepened during fermentation and the three-week maceration period. In this vintage, Chris selected 93 percent new French oak barrels, crafted by half a dozen different coopers for additional complexity and nuances of aroma and flavor. The wines aged in barrel for 17 months before we elected to capture the exuberant fruit flavors, the hallmark of this excellent, ripe vintage. I believe the resulting wine defines pure pleasure-and Special Selection`s true pedigree."