I opened this $30 negociant Rutherford cab two nights ago–after setting aside THAT night’s wine for relative unenjoyable-ness–not expecting much and was instantly shocked and saddened. Shocked at how ridiculously STUNNING it was; saddened it was my last bottle: murdered at least a decade before its potential. Gassed and pumped with only a glass removed, I knew it would hold for spotlighting the following evening. Well… events and dinners got in the way, and now am re-visiting it 48 hours later, and it is none-the-worse for wear.
Incredible–and not terribly pleasant–bottle-funk on first pour, a quick decant resolved that issue completely. What remained is easily one of the finest Napa Cabernets in recent memory. Fruit shy but obvious under close inspection, a ripeness restrained with angsty eucalyptus briar and dusty mineral. Cherry and blueberry a grainy vision behind the spectre of structure, it is tight and un-relenting in grip and careful focus.
I am floored at how CLOSE this feels to early adventures with wines from the 2011 vintage, a note which will gloriously spark the imaginations of the 1% and cause the shallow judgement and sweet-tooth of the 99 to click away. AS GOD INTENDED. A furious blast of impenetrable acid and early tannin controls the entry, the sheer power of the wine intimidating and obfuscating. Is there even fruit? Yes: leathery and tobacco-ridden, veined with pine-pitch and sarsaparilla, the 7 years of age a mere scratch in its merciless armor. The slight oxidation it has experienced over the past 2 days HAVE thickened and enriched the body, plumping the lurking berry to appreciable levels from a crazily austere presentation on opening. But everywhere it again reminds me of 2011: harsh and unforgiving, while containing ALL the elements of an infinitally-ageable, layered powerhouse of classic Napa cab.
I hope you have some of these. A quick search comes up empty, but if I could find a few I would pay DOUBLE for it, and prods me to pick a few from his current offerings: probably some 818, 797 and 788. I am reminded how hard it is to go wrong with these bottles.
2014 CAMERON HUGHES ‘Lot 606’ Cab Rutherford Napa Valley 14.3