Niebaum Cave Diggings

Big bottle funk straight out of the neck settles down to beautiful barnyard, charming caramel and a weedy sort of Caltrans mowing dirty vignette into what’s to come. Steely dust, a signature of Rutherford edgy abrasion muddled against sultry fruit.

In the mouth: clean direction. An old-school austerity against New California complexity but never losing its acidic theme. Green tannins curl into the middle defying the strong legs in the glass that tells me this is ripe. I’m sure probably 14-5 in keeping with everything Napa Valley these days but the backwater pitch that climbs in makes this not the opulent jam & oak bomb I was completely expecting.

This is an old-school nod with a brilliant touch and for a sub-$50 bottle of Napa cab I have a hard time not recommending it. Dirty muddy and concentratedly black cherry still green, and you know how I love that if you read my reviews, it’s actually quite alive and abrasive while maintaining relatively un-forth-coming austerity. I am somewhat shocked that I found this in a supermarket but it is a beautiful testament to the grandfathers of Cabernet in Napa Valley. I recommend it wholeheartedly. A bit disjointed, but where’s the ill in that? I get alarmed when they are so ridiculously perfectly fitted and structured and balanced that I know there’s checkbook manipulation going on. This doesn’t have that: this is not a tourist wine. The old world patina that grinds away at your core and throws sage and walnut shell in all directions prohibits tourist appreciation.

This is a pretty well done wine and I’m proud of the Niebaum brand here. It is not Rubicon–don’t get me wrong–but somebody put a fair amount of thought into this and it works.

2013 NIEBAUM ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 14.5

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