Happy Constraint

Nice clear ruby with a thin clear edge. Ridiculous briar hits hard and heavy, green and Caltrans road-side fresh, heading immediately into a soft burnt-rubber, gear-lube and Luxardo-cherry fruit thinned to very un-Luxardo levels by bright acidity, raw beef and Mercurochrome. Late-breathe brings out far more meatiness, but never does the green brushy steminess subside.

I think most people identify Jeff Fischer’s wines more readily with soft-shouldered bottles of cab-franc, grenache, chenin and gruner, but here we have a proper sharp-shouldered Bordeaux blend with a majority Cabernet Franc NOT from his Loire-style place-mark, but from some of the flagships of Happy Canyon–the HEADQUARTERS of proper Bordeaux varieties in Santa Ynez Valley.

In the mouth, all that pistachio and citrus dumps itself DIRECTLY and un-apologetically onto the tongue, chalky and grainy, mineral on 11, stupidly rich black cherry, dried cranberry and rhubarb pie splash around the back and middle. But let’s be CLEAR about something: This is “stupidly rich” fruit under behind and around all that briar and acid. It is NOT “stupidly rich” as in heavily extracted, highly concentrated Paso Robles and Napa Cab bombs. If you go into this wine expecting Napa, Paso, or even many of the higher-priced Happy Canyon offerings, you will be sorely disappointed. This is a little California sunshine dazzled upon St-Em. This is an old-skool Alexander Valley or a new one with restraint. Fit and fury drawn out in a most luxurious way–the way great young Bordeaux in a good year causes your tongue to pucker but your eyes roll into the back of your head and your toes curl.

Literally a meritage with so much joy in it, alive and interesting, writhing with suspense and verve. This wine is NOT FOR EVERYONE. If you like your big fat oak-swaddled 4.0 jam-sicles, you will HATE this stuff. But for those of you with a pulse, find it.

2014 HABIT WINE CO Red Wine CF/ME/PV/Cab 46/27/14/13 McGinley/Grassini/Curtis Santa Ynez Valley California 13.5


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