Brand Apart

Easily one of my favorite producers in Santa Barbara County, their Bordeaux sensibilities translate smoothly into both their red and Sauvignon Blanc bottlings. The Bouchet is an inexpensive cuvee, a strong vertical I keep in my cellar. Often showing more balance and finesse than the straight-cab or Merlot offerings. I love pulling these old things out of the rack and surprising people who equate the region with Pinot-only.

Deep ruby with a bit of bricking, heavy sediment and THIS particular bottle: cork completely destroyed on removal, a soft, extremely challenging thing to remove. The wine is absolutely perfect though, rich and heady in the nose, gobs of sweet cherry nectar and tertiary glow. Not particularly spicy or briary, the bouquet a calm sentiment to careful BDX blending and classic claret distinction. Round and lovely, packed with leather and dusty velvet saline, it begs you to drink it.

In the mouth, a perfect wine easily at near-peak. Licorice and cherry–the former a whim and the latter a magical ripe experience–it soothes a cabernet craving, sparks the corners with cab-franc exoticism and smooths everything with merlot suppleness. Of course, the age doesn’t hurt: the entire package polished to perfection. This is now fully recognized as the Los Olivos district, something the founder of this winery worked hard on. Sandwiched between Ballard Canyon and Happy Canyon AVA’s, it carries distinct nuances, most of which the wines from Brander share with the more-famous Cab-producing area to the east.

Every time I trot one of these out it wins in any tasting. I can not stress enough how world-class these Bordelais offerings are, and if you aren’t convinced by the reds, try any of Brander’s 6 or 7 Sauvignon Blancs.

2002 BRANDER VINEYARD ‘Bouchet’ Cab/CF/ME 68/24/8 Los Olivos District Santa Ynez Valley Santa Barbara Co. 13.0

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