Secret-Handshake Cab

Rich, somewhat seddy garnet with orange edges.  Pretty and young bouquet–mild as it is.  Not at all a massive voluptuous blast in the nose.  It honestly smells like a young, pretty Syrah or Pinot.  Effortlessly perfumed, but the mild floral is almost overwhelmed by the briar.  Sweet sweet rain-on-dust and an ever-so-slight vanilla-tinged alcohol high note.  Just so delicate, but far from fragile. Big initial age-problem in the nose but completely disappeared after just a few moments of air (no decanting) and it did not fall apart at ALL over the evening.  Drinking amazingly over 4 hours after opening.  This is an orphan I found on a recent road-trip.  Discounted a little bit, but only a 25$ bottle to begin with.  Never heard of it or seen it before.  Rear label indicates this 1999 is Mason’s “first Cabernet bottling”.  What a crazy contrast to the much larger but not-holding-up-early-as-well 2003 Sadler-Wells Sonoma from the other night.  In the mouth, still bright and acidic, but you can definitely taste the 15 years.  Mildly nutty with a touch of spice and Granny-Smith fruit.  While still a viable, solid wine, fruit has definitely faded and the whole taste-package quite meager.  Bright, steely tannins prop up the rear end and show no signs of polish.  It is a strange, closed-in see-saw act between ‘green’ and ‘tired’.  Very interesting little wine.  Good.  Quite good–but interesting.  13-9   ♦

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