Thistle and spirit, a sharp squirt of black cherry and fresh-ground nutmeg comes right at you after a generous decant. Fruit showing near-perfection in restrained cab nuances. No flabbiness or overt maceration, just clean beautiful fruit, spicy and hedonistic, but balanced smoothly across all planes. Canned peach-juice amidst piles of wilting weeks work around a 72% cacao, showing things can be plump and lovely while not bottoming out for the Milk Duds crowd. A little leather strop creeps in for the barely age-rubbed set, setting the stage for what I am assuming will be the mouth-experience of a wine *just* coming into the toddler-steps of its drinking window–although a gravely-tight window–while chalky-licorice-taffy pokes around in the background.
When exploring out-of-the-way California wine-production regions, do NOT ignore Livermore Valley. Doesn’t get a lot of pub, but there are people making SERIOUS wine there.
In the mouth, the scrape of structure is impossible to ignore from the first splash. Fruit heady and concentrated–at LEAST as much blackberry and cassis as I expected–but providing merely the foundation to massive rocky peppery acid and tannin. The balance they strike is, again, nearly as perfect as you can wish for, minuscule droplets of mint, euc, resin and tobacco-water. Cramming your nose into it between sips merely reminds how creamy and full it was: a sensation that translates itself onto the tongue only to be dashed by the reality of a wine with gobs of things lurking under which will only show themselves with time.
Don’t get me wrong: it drinks beautifully. But it holds itself back flirtingly, only showing enough briary thigh and fruity bosom to wink of things to come. Buy a case, drink one a year.
2016 NOTTINGHAM CELLARS Cabernet Sauvignon Smith Ranch Vyd Livermore Valley Central Coast California 14.6