Don’t Take This to a Bunco Party

Bright sparkling ruby out to tiny pink edges.  Really closed-in initially so decanted heavily.  Ripe cherry notes with  marzipan cassis background but the *cheap* edge is visible in the nose.  Not too much goin on in here.

I remember when this wine hit the shelves.  For decades, you had two BV Cab choices:  GdLPR and Rutherford.  Rutherford was 15-20 dollars and the GdL ran 40-50.  Then one day NAPA and TAPESTRY appeared.  At the time, Napa Valley was very close in price-point to the Rutherford and Tapestry was only slightly below the GdLPR.  Today–and in a positive nod to wine marketing–the *Napa Valley* has failed to keep up with inflation, still being considerably sub-20, Rutherford is in the 25$ range, Tapestry is rarely under 50 and of course GdLPR is barely sub-100.  I paid 17 for this wine at a store which sells Rutherford for 25, so the spread has become very obvious.

I bought this by accident:  I was purchasing several bottles of the excellent 2010 Rutherford and this one got in the mix–the labels are nearly identical.  The grocer refused to exchange it–citing ABC rules.  So, I have to drink it.  This post will be a boon to middle-america super-market shoppers, as this bottle is readily available across the country in every chain imaginable.  The bottom line remains: here we have a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon of excellent pedigree comfortably under the 20-dollar P-P!!!  But what do you get?  It is austere, structured and balanced and at the same time contains small bits and pieces of what cheap wine-buyers want.  Is it horribly flawed and cloying like last night’s sub-20 Napa?  A resounding NO.  Is it flirting, structured and nuanced like BV Ruth?  Again, NO.

Crisp and round, meager of fruit but not shockingly so, brightly acidic but mechanically structured nearly to the point of imbalance.  But just not quite.  The round headiness of the briar comes through nicely with considerable air, and it takes on definite floral.  Unlike Rutherford, there remains a certain thinness in the mouth which negates a heavy endorsement.  And, again, the finish contains no substantial tannin.

I see what BV is doing here and I applaud it.  This is a *gateway wine*.  One which 95% of the people in the room–groomed on today’s miserable extraction and ripeness–will poo-poo, but that one person will say, “Hmmm maybe there’s more out there.”  It is never cloying or artificially flavored.  The fruit is present, but not forward or Ladies-Who-Lunch pleasing.  Acid and structure just toy with a serious wine-snob’s palate.  You can’t write this one off as plonk.  There are no flaws.  I wouldn’t lay a bunch down, but remember, it is a Napa Valley Cab under 20 bucks.  A solid recommend.

2010 BEAULIEU VINEYARDS Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 14.5

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