Selections for May 2017

“Another vintage already?”

2013 DANCING HARES ‘Mad Hatter’ – Napa Valley

To know more about this wine you must simply refer back to February’s club notes.  Yes, we meant to do this; providing the next vintage of ‘Mad Hatter’ but three months later.  We do not apologize, and you will almost certainly thank us later! 

Our reasoning:

Scarcity and Time Sensitivity.

Nearly all of the 2013 Mad Hatter not sold by Dancing Hares themselves was spoken for by a chain of Texas steak houses.  Our vendor was alerted to this and passed the word on to us just in time:  “If you want the tiny leftovers you’d better speak NOW.”

The 2013 Vintage.

This is one of the few club submissions we didn’t get to taste for you beforehand.  There were no bottles in the vendor’s sample budget based on the lack of cases to promote.  For once, we didn’t care.  If someone’s 2012 is outstanding, their 2013 counterpart is sure to “trump” it.  The first Napa year delivers rich generosity; no 2012 Cabernet is without it.  From 2013, when all went right weather-wise and the drought’s water deprivation began to be sensed by the vineyard, we got smaller and darker berries.  This concentrated fruit provided more darkness of color, more depth of fruit, and more “important” ageworthiness.  Our follow-up purchase of this 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot 2013 Mad Hatter was a smart bet.

The Accolades.

94 Points, Robert Parker who reports:

… a big-time winner. It has a gorgeously deep ruby/purple color, a sweet kiss of licorice, blackcurrants, black cherries, camphor and incense. The wine is fragrant, with supple tannins, an opulent lushness and a total hedonistic and intellectual turn-on. Drink it over the next 10-12 years.

You’re welcome!!!

(By the way, with no re-ordering option our supplies of this limited wine are on “lockdown” until all members receive his or her first bottle.  We’re happy to take reservations for the precious little that will be leftover!)

More wonderfully “curmudgeonly”

2013 RAFAEL et FILS CABERNET SAUVIGNON – Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley

When I smelled this wine with its vendor and saw “Oak Knoll” on the label I had to ask, “WHERE in Oak Knoll?”

“On the west side, on the benchlands of the Mayacamas Mountains,” was Henning’s reply.

And then the scent and structure of this wine made sense, for this wine experience is not too different from that of long-admired and nearby Hendry Vineyards.  I’d like to think the aspect of “place” still appears in Napa Cabs when fewer winemaking buttons are pushed, and I’d like to think that’s happening as much in this new-to-us Cabernet as it has in many a vintage from its Hendry neighbor.

Here is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (obvious to the happily-aggrieved palate) raised in French oak for 23 months.  A strong sense of cedar, black olive, cherries, and vanilla syrup attacks the nose, declaring, “Pay attention!”  In the mouth you’re tasting and feeling a more classical Napa Cabernet experience; this wine is equipped with age-able, black-earthed structure, to be sure.  If the 2013 Mad Hatter described above can be regarded as a cocktail Cabernet by some palates, dismiss the idea with respect to THIS 2013.  Be sure to have it with a good piece of beef, with the assistance of decanting or cellaring.

We’re lucky to grab this for you and had to be a little deceptive to do so.  Outside of direct sales from the winery it’s meant to appear mostly in restaurants.  Our “by the glass” license came in handy in this case!