That’ll Leave a Mark

Dark pristine ruby, nearly impenetrable and staining. A nose that smells like Napa. I mean–one whiff and you know you’re in Napa, there’s no doubt. Ridiculous ripe fruit, but tempered with heroin-shares of cassis and mint, pie-spice and hard candy, with just enough innertube-air to prove it is real.

See now I know you read last night’s review and you’re thinking to yourself, Now wait a cotton-pickin minute there, McConnell. You all but trashed that Napa cab for being pancake syrup, stopping just short of calling those who drink it *lowest-common-denominator* and they are pretty much the same price-point. You hate that one and like this one, while admitting they are both somewhat touristy and over-stuffed. What gives? Well, it’s very simple. This wine has elegance. This wine smells like Napa. This wine tastes like Napa. It’s unmistakable and plastered all over it. There’s just that under-lying oomph, that sex, that dirt, that volcanic and myrrh and beautiful buttery black cherry. Last night’s wine had NONE of this. It was like watching the second installment of a really great movie. It was like going to a really great restaurant and discovering the shrimp are frozen. It was like visiting a historical monument and being ushered into a room with photos. It was a decent bottle that will sell like hotcakes but there wasn’t any depth to it.

Well, hey. Let’s re-visit last night’s Napa Cab, shall we? It’s still sitting here, gassed, pumped, well over half full, and 4 years younger, so it should have a huge head-start in the *won’t-fall-apart* category. Oh god. This is just a shell of a wine. It’s all banana and lemon today, but the alcohol still burns. The fruit has gone thin and melon-y, the packing behind it even more contrived and one-dimensional, and in the mouth, straight sugar-syrup. I guarantee this stuff will sell like crazy.

But back to TONIGHT’S WINE. This thing smells gorgeous. Diesel and dust and voodoo black velvet vanilla oak in a musty cellar-experience briary and beautiful, tinged with old theatre seats and wet silk, and a scant alcohol touch–and I PROMISE you the AL is nearly identical on the two bottles. I’m sure they are both 14-5-ish.

In the mouth, nectar edged with rocks and ferns, tannins working their way in early, woody and beautiful–not green anymore, starting to polish but still lacking much tertiary. All the mountain cedar and tiny-berry fruit you can handle runs seamlessly elegant and refined with biting acid. Tannins in a death-match with chalky fruit far off into the finish where neither will win.

This is a stupidly luscious bottle of wine which drinks amazing now and probably could go another half-decade easy.

2011 WATERMARK Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder Napa Valley 14.4

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