Staining ruby with just a hint of brick in the narrow rim. Smokey, chunky nose, all 92% chocolate, hedge-trimmings and a grainy, petrol-viscous-sweet-dirt-licorice REALLY strong in the bouquet. Creamy pie-crust, BO, and a toasted sugar glaze belie all the sharp earthy mint, creating a most memorable and enjoyable nose–but it is not petrichor.
This winery is gone. What happened to Venezia? Was this Sebastiani? I remember this label, and as I recall they had 3 single-vineyard bottlings which were interesting if not stunning. But the thing is: Unlike normally, this is NOT a refugee from my cellar. I bought this YESTERDAY at a major national chain store. I go to World Market (us old-timers still call it Cost Plus) for lots of things, rugs, greeting cards, sometimes dishes, always spices and ethnic foods–and ALWAYS OF COURSE cruise the wine for giggles. You USED to be able to explore regions and labels quite effectively at Cost Plus, but just like Trader Joe’s, in the past 20 years they have somewhat dumbed down the selection, and now you can STILL explore a variety of regions, but you will be drinking only the cheapest, most americanized, watered-down, giant-corporate versions of those regions. They still have pretty good bubbly prices, and their rosé-game has stepped up nicely, but other than that, from France, through Italy, Germany, Spain, rounding South America, Africa, Australia, and sliding in to California cab-pinot-zin-chard home-base, you are drinking absolute PLONK.
But you probably know where this is going. Yup, cruisin through, rolling my eyes at everything, there’s this stack of 10YO Alex Cab. WTF??? $23, buy 4 and it goes to 18.99 I think. DOUBLE-WTF??? Me, being the crafty wine-vulture I am, did NOT get suckered into the 4-option (and there literally wasn’t three other bottles in the joint I wanted) but instead paid the full price for ONE as I have taught myself BECAUSE I’VE BEEN BURNED SO MANY TIMES LIKE THIS BEFORE.
In the mouth, all that aged Alex beauty–classic and true–comes bounding out, tight with lovely polish and patina on this one, smooth dusty velvet, sweet sage and ridiculous amounts of controlled bright cherry. Clamoring for bitter attention over the middle, the steely grate allows only the finer rocks to gently tumble through onto the tongue, before tangy tannin raises its hand. Flat-out gorgeous.
If you like wine-bargains, I would definitely check with your local World Market and see if they have this. A BANGIN vintage addition to your cellar. You remember 2009, right? An INCREDIBLE vintage which got buried under the supposed bling of 2010, probably one of the more balanced Napa-Sonoma vintages of the 21st century.
2009 VENEZIA Meola VYD Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley Sonoma 13.7