Loyal readers will know I don’t tell stories–at least in the modern way “You can’t sell wine without the story” is applied, where the Wine-Demystification Industry attempts to make *everyone a winemaker* and ‘personal interest’ over-shadows concern for what’s under the cork. But this wine has a story: the kind of story I like to tell as a consumer. I have looked at this exact bottle for 15 years on the shelf of a local liquor store selling… well… things neighborhood liquor-stores sell, the emphasis being of course NOT high-quality wine. I cruise mom & pop liquor stores regularly for *finds*–mostly stuff from the days when such outlets carried much higher-quality items. I have been watching this particular bottle for 15 years. It sat on the shelf for EVER, and about 10 years ago was moved inside the refrigerator alongside the other Champagnes and sparklers–still all by itself. The original orange pricetag (half the price of current release) became worn and faded, peeling and dusty, and I touched this bottle many times, thinking, “It’s shot.” “Un-air-conditioned liquor store.” “Not worth it.” “Too big a risk.” But today, I rationalized the facts: on the shelf for most of its youth, stored at dullingly benign refer-temps–but also vibration–for the past decade of its fragility, and I decided to rescue this lonely bottle.

I’ve had this wine twice before–and have driven by the Deveaux Vineyard millions of times. If you look carefully on the left as you head into Napa from Sonoma, you will see small signs announcing it. I had it once as the ‘Deveaux Reserve’ bottling and once as the new, re-branded, DVX Cuvee.

Tight, dense cork–soaked and un-swelling–extracting itself shyly with a gentle *pffft* but not requiring a pull. Huge foam on initial pour, settling to a myriad of trails of tiny bubbles from the base. Legal-pad bright color was a shock–as I expected considerable amber. First sniff was all apple and apricot, second sniff–almost instantly behind–began pulling out amaretto, bourbon and caramel. Lazy, solitary threads of bubbles. Buttered toast and applesauce–creamy and bright throughout.

An absolutely pristine wine. Shocking darts of sprite attack the palate, citrus-sharp, though molded thoroughly from 22 years of bottle-age–an aging process I believe the past 10 of which at sub-40º contributed heavily. Nutty marzipan, green banana, perfect pear and peach-fuzz, the bitter finish grimy with black walnut and petrol. Stupidly beautiful, a stunning example of well-made California sparkling.

1999 MUMM CUVEE NAPA ‘DVX’ PN/CH 50/50 Carneros Napa Valley 0.8 12.5

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