NOT Second Fiddle

Oh how I love second labels. I’m kinda cheap–loving value over pure label bling–and second labels give me what I want, both in price and often, an edgier wine: less lush and *reserve-ish*, often with harsher tannins and more acid, less *perceived sweetness* and angular. Or: they can be more approachable in the near term. This wine somewhat favors the latter, though aspects of the former are apparent. In Europe, second labels can be a bit more predictable, with Napa Valley, you never know. Also a mystery–second labels are FAMOUS for sketchy info to protect the value of the main brand–is the provenance of juice: is it declassified over-runs or barrels that *didn’t quite make the cut* or is it straight-up purchased fruit–in Napa’s case–from the valley floor? I almost guarantee the former with this bottle.

This one has all the black, staining concentration of Secret Door, and a nose reflecting many parallels. Heady ripe cherry, tinged with piles of tropical perfume, dusty oak and earth, banana and pineapple, balsamic and blackberry, ruddy leather intertwined with clean Cabernet fruit delicious and compelling.

Tasting it proves what a bargain it is. Spicy and dancing, beautiful ripe blackness crams the pores while acid and minerality weighs in with the juxtaposition reflecting a considerably lighter hand in the barrel programme. The fruit shines sparkling and glamorous, anise, clove and licorice measured out in careful doses, the berry sharp throughout: an agreeable *lightness* of palate able to emphasize these nuances, never obscuring them with the things a lot of people drink Napa Cab for. Ridiculously young, tannins measured but green, chalky grapefruit and black walnut dominate the late-middle and finish, the brash crushed seed at the core of the fruit shining brightly LONG after swallowing.

A stunning value in Napa cab, and although it is cheaper and therefore most-likely looked down on by those with more money than sense, a wine like this carries all the hallmarks the wine 1% look for: glamorous fruit modified with edgy structure, a bit more vegetal and rustic than ‘The Main Event’, lighter body and a price that can’t be beat. My only problem is the second label being named after the wife. In today’s mentality, it could seem sexist and demeaning, but having spent MANY years around Asian culture and Asian women, I’m fairly confident SHE calls all the shots anyway, so I’m OK with it. Donald: your wine’s up next, and I’m gonna be harsh on it.

2018 J-M-L ‘Lot 2’ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 14.0

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