The Sonoma Take on 12

I’ve been a huge critic of the 2012 vintage in Napa and Sonoma, and I am going to use that fulcrum to leverage my opinions of this wine. When WS gives a vintage a 96, you KNOW I’m not gonna like it and I am also going to be extremely critical of ageing potential. Most of the cabs I drink from this vintage are fat, chubby, vapid beasts, sweet and acid-less, tannins either a plush non-event or construed garishness. First of all, this is not a bad wine: it is one of the most acid-driven un-flaccid examples of 12 I have dranken. 50% Merlot from Serras Ranch, along with remaining chunks of Knight’s Valley cab and DCV CF is a pretty gorgeous little recipe and the wine shows well. Bright ruby, no brick, nose writhing in tertiary and the fruit a very ripe cherry: fading, but not oxidized or pruney. This thing is all beautiful piss-stained leather and crushed velvet theatre seats and mid-century attic-dust but WITH a good solid streak of coffee- and tobacco-ridden black cherry. With air, the fruit plushens.

I visit my 2012 Cabs frequently, and while they all feel round and reubenesque, they don’t feel OLD yet. And I should remind you this vintage is knocking on TEN YEARS OLD. Scary, huh? But it just occurred to me this is the FIRST 2012 that tastes OLD. That has significant tertiary. That has fading fruit causing acidic juxtapositions. That I’m gonna put a timeline on. I’m going chalk this up to the half-Merlot.

In the mouth, we’re back to the ridiculous Bordeaux texture I felt in the Cabernet. Mellow rich fruit pleases on all levels, gloriously tinged with acid, and not playing to the tropical or banana gods, but still managing a page from pomegranate and pie-cherry charts. But with that said, I think this wine is at about peak. Tannins are strong, the chalkiness of the acid gropes deliriously along grapefruit corridors of minerality, there’s a black, burnt concentration to the pulp of the fruit, but the fruit itself: It’s not keeping up. It is being over-shadowed by structure in classic fashion. This wine probably has 5 years of enjoyment on it but to ask it to go farther is a risk. It is a great educational-piece now and will morph into a curiosity quickly. If you find it: buy a shit-ton of it… jesus christ at these prices it is an INSTANT cellar and you can chug it for a few years.

2012 SUNCE Meritage ME/cab/CF 50/33/18 Sonoma Co. 13.8

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