Selections for June 2016

Swanky Stuffe, more attainably priced

2013 CRU CABERNET SAUVIGNON from Vineyard 29 – Napa Valley

Let’s talk about the odds. 

With a vintage as excellent as Napa’s 2013 the odds are very good that just about any Cab from there and then will be solid.  Remember how delicious those 2012’s were?  2013 trumps its predecessor.  The fruit is even darker, depth of flavor more profound, and a more significant tannin structure makes these Cabernets the more durable.

With a winemaker who has demonstrated his abilities with Napa reds as impressively as Philippe Melka, the odds are very good that you have a winner here; this is a Melka-guided 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet.

With a winery whose 2013 Estate Cabernet (costing $250, if you can get any) received a 100 point rating from Robert Parker, the odds are very good that Vineyard 29’s entry-level 2013 ‘Cru’ version doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Indeed, a 93 point rating for a 2013 Napa Cabernet you members can access for less than $50 indicates very good value these days.  Here are Mr. Parker’s thoughts:

“ . . . the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Cru is meant to be drunk by eager consumers unable to defer gratification, as well as any restaurant looking for a realistically priced and delicious, dense Napa Cabernet. The 2013, which is no surprise, is basically two-thirds from St. Helena-area vineyards, and is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. It has terrific aromatics of spring flowers, licorice, tobacco leaf, charcoal and a touch of graphite. The superb aromatics lead to a seductive, juicy, soft, round opulent style of wine, with medium to full body, an opaque purple color, and gorgeous ripeness and richness. A major sleeper of the vintage, you can get this for the full retail price of about $60 per bottle, probably double that in any restaurants.”  

With The Wine Steward having brought your club at least two previous vintages of Cru, the odds are very good you’ll be loving it again.  To Parker’s abundant description I’d augment:

“Violets, camphor, licorice, black and blue fruits, and sweet charcoal fly from the glass.  Your sip delivers the smooth, barely-ready pleasure of black cherries and fresh dark chocolate.  Drink now or hold for five to seven years.”

How ‘bout them odds?!

My Favorite Recent Cabernet Vintage

2010 TRIONE ‘Block 21’ CABERNET SAUVIGNON – Alexander Valley

When the 2010’s were first released and poured for us, whether from Napa or other Cabernet Places to our north, I was immediately impressed.  This was the first year since 1999 that was delivering such focused impact to my palate.  Yes, many good vintages had come between these two.  Critics had been especially noisy about the 2007’s, but I found that year to show more classical balance and a little less weight than many Cab lovers want for their money.  2010’s long, cool growing season which finished with a crescendo of fruit-ripening heat caused a smaller grape on the cluster which in turn made for a larger skin-to-juice ratio in the fermentations.  The skins deliver color and flavor and tannins of course, so 2010’s got a lot of all three.  When tasting the 2010’s in their youth we were wowed by the density of purpleness and power of flavor - and respectfully frightened by the tannins.  However, we knew that latter aspect would subside over time to reveal a beautifully-developed full-bodied wine.

Here it is:  Not from Napa this time but from the land of Stonestreet, Jordan, Stuhlmuller and other worthy Alexander Valley neighbors.  You can SMELL the concentration of this wine.  Framboise and cassis vie with dried herbs and bittersweet chocolate for your attention.  The palate is long and broad, yet lithe with juicy acidity.  Like the Korbin Kameron provided last month, this is less of a “cocktail Cab” than – say - the Vineyard 29 Cru presented above.  Match the acids and intrinsic Alexander Valley earthiness of Trione with roasted or braised meat (short ribs, anybody?) to fully honor it.  Revel in the 2010 vintage – it’s high time!