The Last Letter in Napa

There are so many old- and mid-school wineries in Napa that can fall off your radar in the current inundation of high-profile, well-marketed brands, vapid #influencer saturation, shelf-placement, purposeful catchy labels and packaging, and trendy infatuation by the 99%. It has been a decade at LEAST since I had a ZD, and given a quiz–non multiple-choice–I’m not sure I would reference the brand readily. There are SO. MANY. WINES. and then one of these plops in your lap to beautifully spark your memory. I don’t think the label’s even been touched in 20 years. But it’s wineries like this which really form the foundation of Napa Valley. And the bottle contents easily show why.

An almost garnet interpretation of dark ruby in the glass, something a little concerning of a wine this young, but not gonna let it bother me. But there’s no bricking: the tiny pink rim offsetting the nearly impenetrable maroon core. Effusive floral in the nose. The kind of crushed, dusty velvet theatre-seat beauty that has seen a lot of butts. And popcorn, and tears, and Coke & Red Vines. Probably even cigarette butts. The fruit has a chocolate-coffee sweetness, hints of maraschino and mascarpone climb over the piquant yogurt-queso acidic sprite. A slice of oak plies the earthy tincture, but honestly these are all tiny nuances–everything dominated by ridiculous rich berry and an appropriate complement of spice.

Easy and welcoming in the mouth. Tea and walnut accompany the entrance of gorgeous fruit, the full concentration of blackberry, rose hip and petrichor spreads TBO’s all around, going hard into the finish before thinning slightly to OceanSpray to brace you for what HAS to come next. And there it is. The silkiest tannins–no-nonsense in their culmination but entrancing in their smoothness–play a little joyful drizzle on the cellar floor. Minty eucalyptus gives the grainy vegetal blessing, making sure you understand this is Napa.

What are you gonna say about a wine like this? I mean–it’s just flat-out gorgeous start-to-finish. Classic Napa, elevated to the 21st century.

2014 ZD Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 14.5

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