License to Thrill

Literally the thickest densest blackest impenetrablist darkest Napa Cab I have ever seen in my life. I mean… we’re talkin Paso proportions here. Garnet edges all of an 1/8″ wide dividing thin air from pitch black. The nose, likewise, follows the same dense impenetrable fashion, throwing up a wall of mud–thick, sticky black clay mud that sticks to your boots–the sweet, equally sticky fruit has a hard time peeking through. But it’s there. The green-stemmy pitch perfectly frames the dirty fruit, and the more air, the better its chances against the wall of mud. 15 minutes now in the glass and bright spicy points of light are poking through–little pinholes of excitement, mint and cherry pie. The fruit early on almost felt pruney, with heavy layers of caramel and chocolate, but now it has lightened and diversified, with wet bark and sharp herb-tea-honey. This thing HAS to be 15-oh, and I’m going to give it a vigorous decant.

Beringer’s Cabernet line-up has always been kinda a puzzle to me. Growing up, Knight’s Valley and PR were the only offerings available. I just never really knew there was anything else in between. Literally only in the past 5 years have two others come into focus. And the price-points–depending on where you buy them, of course–don’t always make sense. The Paso Robles cab (Wayfarer? Wanderer?) is more expensive than the Sonoma (which is weird) and this Napa Valley is well less than half of PR (what is PR these days… buck-twenty-five?).

Wow, the fruit flies love this thing.

In the mouth, hold on a second–I’m still smelling this thing. There’s a chunk of alcohol, but it is tempered with a latex streak, but now the fat, sticky fruit–yes, sorry, I have no other words for it or any other way to slice it: This thing has fat, sticky fruit–is being carried in a cold-water stream. See, now going in, I was going to say this thing REALLY felt like Paso. Granted, it would be the best goddamn Paso cab you ever did done had, but still: it has a lot of Paso characteristics. I think blind I might have pegged this for a Paso cab. But it continues to shape-shift and throw little Napa fast-balls at you, sealing its provenance. I still haven’t tasted it!

In the mouth, just straight graphite and lead. Pitchy conifer branches plan a smoky fire over piles of tiramasu but there’s just not enough oak to get it started. Gobs and gobs of thick ripe fruit slide around the mouth while a nice mineral twangs against taut rubber band. The 3/4 view is back to fruit on a GRANULAR level. Purée. Literally chewable in its concentration. Tannin? Oh yeah. Fresh-cut weed sap flinging hard into your throat, but everything is weighed down with the fruit you can barely suck through the gap in your front teeth.

For $20 more than Knight’s Valley and $10 more than Paso Robles and 1/3 the price of PR, I’d call this wine a bargain. I mean–if you’re into this style of wine. It’s a little *wow* for me, but it’s a stunner, that’s for sure.

2010 BERINGER VINEYARDS Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 14.3

2 thoughts on “License to Thrill

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