If you are a serious wine person who has been awake for the past 20 or 30 years, you have BV Rutherford stories. I feel like I have hundreds. It was probably my first experiment and exposure to actual quality Napa Valley juice and definitely my earliest exposure to a specific Napa Valley AVA. With the only possible competition being Sonoma’s Beringer Knight’s Valley, one of the oldest and longest-running AVA-specific bottles to grace supermarket shelves everywhere. Shall we talk about consistency? I go back and forth between BVruth and BerKV in ‘favorite’ and could NEVER pick one. One also has to remember–just like Mercedes used to have an S-class and an E-class, and THAT’S IT–BVruth used to be the second bottling, the only other bottling, after Georges De Latour PR. Now there are Tapestry and Maestro Reserve and the Clone-series and occasionally a few out-liers in between GDLpr and BVruth, and of course BVnapa directly below and more Maestro and Beaurouge and Red Wine before you get down to the serious boxwine-quality stuff of BVcoastal and who knows what else. I really don’t look on those shelves. For decades, there was Georges De Latour Private Reserve and Rutherford. That was it. I remember buying BVruth down in the 12$-15$ range and even today it can be found in the very low 20’s–making it a seriously long-term good deal. I started buying it in the early 90’s–I definitely wish I had more of those now–and a client gave me a 1985 as a gift in 2001 which I opened almost immediately. It had sat in a brightly-lit rack in the hallway of his house in Sacramento (25F to 105F range) for nearly its entire life and was absolutely stunning. Nearly a perfect wine. I can still taste it. I drank a fair amount of BVruth in the early 2000’s and then–with the prevalence of BVnapa and Tapestry fighting for shelf-space and what I felt was a slide in classical style, I really have not kept up–skipping many vintages completely. The last time I tried it was the 2010 vintage and was under-whelmed. I’m sorry, but as badly as some of the stalwart bottlings had slid in quality in the 2000’s, I could name a half-dozen I feel hit an additional wall with the 2010 bottling and the 11’s and 12’s reflect the same. Everything seems too over-loaded and that whole ‘perceived sweetness’ thing and anything even remotely briary or minty or tannic has gone completely away in favor of more oak. Forget any acid. The pH and AL has drifted too high and far too much emphasis has been placed on early mouth-feel. This is called the *Consumer-Driven-Palate*. BV Rutherford was designed to be a fairly easy-to-drink wine, but always had potential–if you set them aside LIKE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO WITH CABS!!! for a few years you always had something amazing. It just was built that way. Now it is built for lushness and Tupperware parties right off the shelf barely 2 years after harvest. So, considerable anticipation went into opening this 2005 tonight at age 9. I am happy to report it felt like the olden days.
Dark dark ruby with wide garnet edges. An absolutely magical bouquet of considerable polish but absolutely not ag-ed AT ALL. Piles of wonderful spice and mild briar with a heady floral perfume, jasmine, gardenia, mint, fresh lilies. Underdeath all lies a huge acreage of perfectly-still oak and earth foundation. A teensy alcoholic note–wrapped tightly in more mineral and crushed leaves–hits at the top end. Positively chewy in the mouth. This is a good one. It comes in hard and fast, coating the tongue and filling the mouth with… just… wonderful… CABERNET FRUIT AND ACID. There is no other way to put it. It’s CAB! If you follow me, you know there have been a couple-three recent cabs which sounded great, looked great, smelled great, and FINISHED great, but there’s this teensy-weensy section between SMELLING and FINISHING which was just… vapid….*poof*… Meager enough to seriously affect the enjoyment of the wine. I am glad this one has corrected that thread. MASSIVE mounds of black cherry tart and fat, plump, wild blackberries scooped on piles of sharp cassis and licorice and acid crescend into a massive tannic finish so seamlessly you really can not determine the transition. There’s this 5-minute block of time with fruit at the beginning and structure at the end and in between a perfect storm of everything fighting to be the last thing you remember in your mouth. The tannin wins, of course–and it is a nicely polishing sort but still quite virile. This wine has another decade on it EASY.
2005 BEAULIEU VINEYARDS Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Napa Valley 14.4