Selections for September 2017

The Classic


It is our pleasure to offer you the ultimate wine experience:  Difference.

While some of our clubs roam the world and its vast array of wine types with a bit more freedom, even your more delineatedly-defined wine club allows for Difference.  Last month we showed you a young and modern whopper of a Merlot right beside an older, more elegant and suave one:  Two very different wines within one grape.  The variety of our provisions continues this month with a more conservatively-styled Cabernet and a more full-throttle, modern-styled Cabernet-based blend. 

Let’s begin with Robert Craig, no stranger to your club.  This is the classic, the more durable, the cellar wine, the wine remembering how they used to make ‘em using 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Malbec.  Sagebrush, brine-cured black olive, and oregano are just as pronounced as the cherry, coffee, and mocha.  This panoply of savory and fruit nuances continues in the mouth, murmured with a more modest body and cellarworthy acidity.  If this wine seems not so “big” to you that’s the point of it, and all that Robert Craig seeks to produce.  His wines, more discreet at release, LAST.  Drink this now if you’d like, but you’ll better honor it with three to ten years of aging!

Yet another Rock Star Winemaker

2014 TETHER RED – Napa Valley

It seems we spend more writing time on famous or soon-to-be-famous winemakers for you Red Collectors than we do for any other club.  Maybe that’s because the location and quality of the Napa Valley is alreadyso well known to most of you.  Sometimes the difference lies in the maker and his or her personal way of working with those grapes.  Over the years we have told you of Philippe Melka, Michel Rolland, Heidi Barrett, Denis Malbec (r.i.p.) and many others who make their own signature wine, but also apply their talents to the small projects of other owners.  So let’s introduce you to yet another shepherd of the fruit.

Benoit Touquette was born in Lyon, France and received his Masters in Oenology at the University of Bordeaux.  His early years of winemaking happened there, and an alliance with winemaker Andy Erickson was established here, too.  These two then worked together in Napa at Hartwell, and when Erickson relinquished his winemaker role there Touquette took over.  Since then, Benoit has amassed several other winemaking gigs, with cult wine “Realm” being the most notable and highly-rated. 

“Tether” is Benoit’s own baby (broker of all things GREAT and NAPA Kimberly Jones is a partner), a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 14% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec sourced mainly from Yountville and Calistoga vineyards.  Like Touquette’s Realm and Familiar Air wines, this Cabernet-based beauty sports a full-throttle muscle car mentality with its nearly-opaque darkness of color, intense scent, and graphite-framed black fruit and espresso flavors.  When the wine leaves your mouth the memory is prolonged with a delicious debate between chewy grip and fudgy sweetness (though the wine is not actually “sweet”).

How long such a wine will age is a puzzle for me.  Cellaring this for five or so years means sacrificing some of the fresh fruit in favor of a softer mouthfeel.  I imagine this particular kind of “fruit” will achieve a caramely quality, desirable to many of you who curl up on the couch with naught but a healthy pour of this, barely clad in a slinky robe and bunny slippers.  Others drink this kind of thing sooner, forgiving or even preferring the grippy tannins.  The ribeye steak awaiting you from beneath the glass counter at Gene’s Fine Foods will certainly accommodate the latter!  168 Cases Made