Here’s a wine that stumps a lot of people. Flagship cab or BDX-blend from a well-marketed producer, relatively inexpensive, and yet you almost NEVER see it. There’s a few others which come to mind… Clos Du Bois Marlstone, Kenwood Artist Series, Chateau Souverain Signature, J. Lohr Cuvee Series, the late Villa Mt. Eden Grand Reserve, Gallo Signature, Ferrari-Carano Tresor, and on and on. Actually–looking at this quick list–HALF of these are now gone, but Élu remains, and NOTHING evokes more “What the hell is THAT?” And it’s a sad reality, as these are beautiful wines.

This particular bottle has a bit of a story for me: There’s a group of liquor stores in my area all owned by the same middle-eastern family (I think they’re Syrian, but doesn’t really matter) and scattered one-or-two to a town. I started noticing a pattern and discovered they MOVE wines from store to store–especially the older stuff. I ran into 4 bottles of this maybe 6 years ago, bought two, opened one–it was PERFECT–and returned the following week to clean them out only to be met with an empty shelf. Oh well, no big deal… it’s not like I need to rescue ALL the wine! Fast-forward to last week and I popped into a store in a part of Pismo Beach no local EVER goes. I had been in this store once before–almost 20 years earlier–and found a half-case of the aforementioned 1996 VmE Grand Reserve Cab. There, sad and lonely–pricetag torn to un-readable–sat a bottle of 2005 Élu. WAIT! I spun to the proprietor, “Do you own (that store) over there?” “Yes we do.” Now it all made sense. I asked the price–always worried about *what the market will bear* on un-priced wines–and he said, “Make me an offer.” I was generous–with $35–and he agreed.

Gorgeous deep maroon, touches of brick glowing at the far rim. A STUNNING bouquet of sharp fruit, savory leather, dusty oak and brilliant minty spice exploded out of the glass. Supple while invigorating on the palate, it enters clean, smoky blackberry, crescendoing up through marzipan, maraschino, raspy black walnut and an absolute Heaven’s gate of acid-rimmed cherry. Thick and unctuous, the fruit grainy and chewy, sweaty black sex dripping from all corners of velvet theatre seats and soggy peat-pits.

I expected the worst, and was rewarded with stupendous greatness. And that’s my orphan-story for the month–and the best wine I’ve had this year.

2005 ST. SUPERY ‘Élu’ Red Wine Cab/ME/PV/CF 75/19/3/3 Napa Valley 14.3


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