BV=Before Varicose

Diggin into the old-school bin tonight, and noticed I had several of these 09’s lurking. BV Ruth needs no introduction to the wine 1 percent–though those under 40 will probably roll their eyes a bit. I don’t care–and I know for a LOT of people my age, this wine represented one of our first early experiences with singly-appellated Napa Cab. Even at 20-25 bucks, these were a bit of a stretch for my wine-budget in the 80’s and 90’s, and now they SOAR into the 30’s haha. In the grand scheme of things: STILL quite a bargain. I keep a fairly stiff vertical of these in the cellar–not really methodically–just pick them up randomly when I see a great price. 2009 is an under-rated vintage–probably my second favorite after the OTHER great early-under-rated year: 2011.

Bold ruby in the glass–a hint of brick, but clear and dense. Spicy, sanguine nose pours out of it: dusty velvet with a definite green streak of conifer and eucalyptus. Minty leather pounds a base-line, fruit still a ridiculously firm cherry with licorice and cigar-leaf undertones. Initial pour shows outstanding bottle-funk–something I rank as clear pedigree. Stunning and perfect in bouquet: you literally COULDN’T ask for more from this price-point.

Tasting it is a head-shaking experience. I mean–HOW could you not like this. HOW can something this mass-produced be so compelling. HOW has this bottling managed the transition from vintage second-label through collectible mid-priced supermarket offering through mass-produced trademark with such grace and finesse? It is deliriously-good wine! And yet so over-looked. The crisp, acidic berry roiled in pith and briar, tannin exploding in all directions, everything encased in an ever-so-slightly-polishing shell of rich fruit and grandeur. Concentrated in EXACTLY the right places, no fruit-FWD sluttiness, no glycerine or sugar or expensive oak to detract from the NAPA VALLEY CABERNET. The finish a rich, bitter testament to juiciness and structure, the middle a left-bank depository of grime and mineral, the entry a PRIMER on WHAT FRUIT IS. There are a lot of cab-producers in Napa who would do well to study this model.

2009 BEAULIEU VINEYARD ‘Rutherford’ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 14.5

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