Napa Cab.

Dark clear ruby with minuscule pink edges. Not opaque by any means, but glowing transparent. A chorus of equally dark fruit rises out of the glass, a sharp vegetal and peaty burn riding on concentrated cherry and effusive briar, green and pointed, piercing the tiny visions of dark chocolate and vanilla barely visible at this age. Decanted heavily, and to be honest very little submission is expressed by any of these components. This thing just powers on, undeterred by air, gorgeous fruit expressing merely a bit more soft cherry underneath all that fire and brimstone.

I love these wines, and have been quite vocal in that regard. An opinion which has got me some strange glances over the years. I think Yao Ming is doing everything right, and while stalwart cabernet brands slide into mediocrity all around, he continues to put out a product the valley can be proud of. It’s beautiful Napa Cab, and the raised eyebrows come typically from people who have never tasted it and assume a) it is just another hollow celebrity vanity project or b) so gummily sweet, oaky and touristy nectar, no serious wine-person could possibly appreciate it. I’m here to tell you you are wrong on both accounts. I mean sure: they are big, rich and have a nice chunk of new French oak. Name a 100$ Napa Cab that isn’t. Add to that it is NOT seeing crazy 40-day macerations, native yeast and ML ferms are encouraged, it’s basket-pressed, unfiltered, is 3.6 and I’m guessing in the mid 6’s. Still, it is probably 14-5, and at LEAST 50% new oak.

There’s also Yao Ming’s conservation efforts–mostly to educate his countrymen of the gross environmental scars left by the shark fin soup industry. And it is making a HUGE difference. There has actually been noticeable, measurable change.

OMG shut up and taste it already.

In the mouth, beautiful and clean with the sweet blackberry base lean and transparent beneath the throbbing structure ALREADY apparent in the entry. Smokey jam is still flowing off the nose, and is impossible to ignore when little bits of olive, black walnut and ridiculous cherry coat your tongue. And that mean streak of tannin. Oh boy. THIS is the whole reason behind #drinkemyoung, isn’t it. There’s nothing like it. Far more polished than a barrel sample, but FAR from integrated perfectly into tertiary properties, it still fits PERFECTLY in this mouthfeel, generous and compelling, shocking and invigorating, stunningly complex.

This wine is actually QUITE drinkable now, for those of you who I KNOW WILL. But oh boy let’s put a healthy chunk away. Buy a case and drink one a year.

2015 YAO MING FAMILY WINERY Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 14.6

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