A Wolf By Any Other Name Is Not As Sweet

Clear garnet with purple thin edges.  Somewhat typically closed-in at first, gradually blossoms into an intoxicating sweet, sweet cedar-box, frankincense, wet black walnut, old varnish beauty.  Woodsy but exotic, is that possible?  Yes, briary and packed with peat and loam but carrying a spice and perfume headline.  I don’t think I have ever seen this wine before.  I have been trying desperately to like the Cabernet and Zinfandel versions of this label for DECADES.  I have always found them thin, awkward and marginally-fruited.  I love this label so much–maybe it’s a dude-thing?  I mean… it’s Jack London!!!  Have you been to the museum and ruins of his house in Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Sonoma?  When you are in wine country, please make time to visit.  If you have an interest in literature, or architecture, or just California history, it is a MUST-SEE.  A nice short hike down to the MASSIVE house–which burnt down practically the day it was finished–and the upper, Mrs. London house, which is a fascinating museum to all things Jack London.  Not to be missed.  Needless to say, this label has beguiled me for ever and ever and it is not an expensive Cab or Zin and “Sonoma Mountain” and all that and the silk-screened label is an absolute CA CLASSIC.  But try as I might, I have never been able to heartily endorse either the Jack London Vineyard Cabernet OR Zinfandel.  While head-and-shoulders better than Kenwood’s ‘normal’–and good value–offerings and almost always better than even the Reserve offerings, I have never been wowwed by the wolf-head bottling.  Until now.  Honestly, this is very good SY.  It is not fat.  It is not decadently ripe.  It is not particularly tarry or leathery or funkily-fruited or any other hallmark of 95-point SY, but it is good.  It comes off as a cool-climate situation but without the vegetal often present in young versions of North Coast SY.  In the mouth, thinnish entry emphasizes acid as it expands into beautiful tart fruit complimenting all of the licorice and leather in the nose.  A violet, tomato-seed vibrancy complicates the fruit, which is showing a teensy bit of the beautiful polish of age–as are the soft tannins.  5 years have been good to this wine, and another 5 will do likewise.
2010 KENWOOD Syrah Jack London Vineyard Sonoma  14.5


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