A nose like straight nose drugs, rich and gloriously burning and sweet, a nectar tinged with minty fire, eye-crossingly concentrated, a thick, Q-Tip-requiring clog of mud and volcanic fire and the sort of fresh-baked-bread/burnt-rubber/chocolate that makes parts of you tingle. No idea what this is. I’m thinking at least half cab, probably ME and then…. SY? I dunno.

This is one of the last–possibly THE last–wines I purchased on Tom Pelter’s recommendation at his old shop in the train car in Calistoga. There are only two or three people in the state of California involved in wine sales who I will take buying advice from–and Tom was one of that tiny club. His shop always had these amazing little curations–much of it from tiny producers in the hills around Calistoga and over the Mayacamas ridge into Sonoma–a line imaginary to the vines, but where the price drops exponentially. There were always interesting bottlings available for great low prices–both from people you’ve never heard of and second-labels of big houses. Of course there were always the normal smatterings of well-known producers–and he’d order anything for you–but the weird gems was what I made Tom’s shop a must-visit EVERY time I went to Napa Valley. I have discovered SOOOOO many great wines over the years through him. Tom’s daughter is now running the shop and it has a new location in Calistoga–one with probably better visibility and marketability than the old train car.

Holy crap in the mouth. Juicy, disgusting fruit, blistering cherry, blackberry, blood orange, black walnut, tea and sagebrush and warm earth, a fruit concentration held slightly below its possibilities in order to keep balance with structure. A classic example how *restraint* can happen in a big wine. Pepper and cappuccino and a cigarette after sex–even in California. I’m changing my mind. There’s no SY in this. But it is not awash in ME either. There’s something else. I don’t think it’s CF. PV dat you? Clean and insistent on the finish, bitter to a TEE, fruit still causing a scene.

2013 H-L-R CELLARS ‘Hella-licious’ Cab/ME/PV 64/29/7 Fountaingrove District Sonoma 14.8


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