History Lesson at 14-5

Dark ruby with a bright pink rim. Crazy bottle-funk on first sniff. Decanted heavily. The majority of if blows off, but it remains flaccid and dull-feeling, dirty work-boots and vegetal not-quite unpleasant and an absolute dearth of fruit or spice without lots of air and careful searching. Early-on flat un-identifiable nothingness, tiny expressions of what I suppose could be called cinnamon or anise in a best-case-scenario sorta compliment sorta linger somewhere in the thick blandness. Then it starts growing: Eucalyptus and black cherry–and still that glorious funk.

Seen this label a few times and always been curious. A glance at the website shows a winery still selling futures–a plus for me–and a shocking plethora of wines across a dozen+ AVA’s. Reading their roster is a rather educational tour of California and vineyard pockets all OVER.

But let’s taste it. Things DO flesh up a bit, and the needle moves considerably above average on the tongue. Maybe this is just their style, I’m not necessarily COMPLAINING about a nose un-effusive, because lord knows the opposite would be a bigger turn-off–and THOSE popular examples abound. I just haven’t tasted a CA Cab like this in a while, and am torn between WTF and WTF. Clean and cool on the palate, the thin-ness of the fruit flies in the face of the dense color, but we don’t complain about that in Pinot or Grenache, so why Cab? Ridiculously even and restrained, the fruit a strangled pie-cherry, granny smith and seedy berry over a blitheringly dry raspy landscape. A wall of black-walnut, gunpowder-tea roily bitterness invades mid-palate–another big plus–and the funk on the nose is growing on me as a juxtaposition to this. It reminds me of Togni or Corison or Forman at young age: so tight and fresh and reined-in, the magic is hard to imagine. Way more tannin than fruit at this point, but even then: the crispness of both the finish and the entry provide a compelling argument for restraint.

This wine feels like Bordeaux–but ripe. It just flat-out doesn’t feel like modern California cab. An hour or two in I am quite seeing a wine impressing more and more. This could be BV Ruth or Franciscan or Clos Du Val or Burgess from the late-80’s. They either goofed on this wine or it was their intent all along. Either way, I’m callin this wine: THE most old-school version of California Cabernet I have tasted in some time, and could be a 20+ year aging candidate.

2017 SUNCE Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley 14.5


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