Once Upon a Time

Back in the olden days when I was young and didn’t have much of an international palate and even less of a wine budget, I was always blown away by these wines and touted them as some of the best values in hi-production, supermarket darlings. That opinion hasn’t changed significantly, although the wines–like every other brand–have gotten richer and riper and rounder and more user-friendly at a young age. I’ve had the pleasant opportunity to taste BV Ruth many MANY times in the past 20 or 30 years: several late-70’s, an 84 and 85 I can still remember plain as day as stunning, and then all through the 90’s and forward. When I see a great price I buy a few, and have a small vertical therefore. Obviously the days of 12-5 wonders that would age 30 years are far behind us, but they still show pretty magnificently, and here at 13, this one’s laying down some sweet grooves. They have also doubled in price during that time–I can easily remember paying less than 20 bucks for them–and now as they approach $40, I can name a dozen brands–none anywhere NEAR as large or well-marketed of course–where you probably get a bit more of that old-school texture for nearly the same PP.

But let’s not ruin the romanticism of it for me. For me–and I know many others–this was probably the first district-designate wine I was exposed to. Of course it should be noted when I started drinking BV Ruth, it and GdL PR were basically the only two cabs from Beaulieu. The ‘Napa Valley’ and ‘Tapestry’ would be *invented* somewhat later: the former–though considerably lower-priced–a vague mere SHADOW of this wine. Although in its heyday in the 70’s and 80’s it could stand tall alongside Heitz or Stag’s Leap, Burgess or Clos Du Val, those days are pretty much over, as it has *softened* for the user-friendly marketing demo.

Dark dense ruby with no bricking. It STAINS the glass terribly. A bit of bottle-funk on opening decreed decanting, although it definitely maintains a dank atmosphere in the nose. Black pickled cherry molds deeply to spicy earth, rich and robust, concentratedly nasal-clogging with heady blackberry and Comstock pie-filling intensity: leather, urine, and decadent sweetness. Tertiary is apparent on early swirls, but it all goes luxo-california with air.

In the mouth, pristine cherry sweetness abounds. The acidic edge of old times is visible, but it is just flat-out YUMMY. It’s SOOOO concentrated, and yet wings of beautiful Rutherford distinction don’t allow it to get bogged down in jammy charades. Tannins are soft–but obvious–almost invisibly tied into the husky fruit.

Hell, maybe this wine CAN go 30 years.

2007 BEAULIEU VINEYARD ‘Rutherford’ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 14.5


2 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time

  1. Rattle off a few of the dozen or so smaller productions at similar price point… always trying and buying what you recommend.


    1. White Rock. Beringer Knight’s valley. CsJ Sonoma. Kenwood Jack London. Yao Ming’s second label. Paso: Ancient Peaks. Broadside. Santa Barbara: Brander Bouchet. Holus Bolus Genuine Risk.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.