Armstrong Ranch sits high atop Diamond Mountain, just west of Calistoga. The vineyard blocks are planted on an extreme hillside with an elevation range of 850 to 1,200 feet. The thin, volcanic soils are laden with obsidian (volcanic glass) and very limiting; each vine produces only 2 tons per acre. Due to the varying elevations and row orientations, this vineyard is typically harvested three or four different times; sometimes a quarter of a row is left behind to ripen further. All of these factors make it a difficult place for a grapevine, and the resulting wines are incredibly rich in flavor with a complex tannin structure. In 2006, Diamond Mountain experienced a late bud break due to cool spring temperatures. Warm daytime temperatures during the summer and fall allowed the grapes to achieve ripeness of flavors and tannins, and harvest was completed by the first week of October.
This wine opens with rich aromas of blackberry, roasted coffee, anise, dark chocolate and a hint of smoky oak. The palate is full-bodied with well-developed tannins and flavors of black cherry, bittersweet chocolate, dried cranberries and toasted oak. The wine is aged in French oak (95 percent new)for nineteen months.