What if I told you Baron Herzog had a buck-75 Cabernet? The response is always the same: No one can BELIEVE the same people who churn out those $12 wines at the supermarket over in the weird section between the marsala and Sutter Home Fre–along side the Manischewitz–ALSO produce serious bottles. But they do, and any loyal reader will know I’ve reviewed a bunch of them–as they LOVE sending me samples–and I was as shocked at first as you are. I relish receiving these wines now, as the quality speaks for itself.
Black, impenetrable ruby with a crimson, staining rim. Musty dust piled on dark berry eases out of the glass, presenting a lush, leather-ripe affair classically edged with herbaceous petrichor hinting at minty eucalyptus. The pure Cabernet fruit is voluminous, touching stony AND sweet, but showing neither adolescent austerity or oak-ridden cloying-ness. The bouquet is supple and rich: cherry and blackberry at now-standard copious amounts of ripe harmony. Decanted an hour, which rather nicely brings out the green vibrancy, stoning the edge of luxury.
Tasting it reels things in a bit from the pure decadence of the nose. And nothing could make me happier about this turn toward *restraint*. Brittle acid and structure accompanies the fruity entry, making it TOWER with power and proper varietal gristle. Burningly harsh–while doing it SO methodically complex–the early fruit strains at heavy chains of bitter briar and shows stuffing to be reckoned with. Tight citrus minerality claws at every surface, reflecting chalky pith mouth-wipingly intense though gorgeous in every detail. And the DETAILS are what keeps bringing us back to expensive Cab. Nutmeg, clove and salty cinnamon adorn lavish cherry, solid and overwhelming over the middle and never taking a break into finish. Tannins are a monstrous chore: sweet and timed perfectly against a steady beat of forever fruit.
I know a good number of my followers dabble in these semi-splurgy California cabs, and THIS one–though I know it’s from an un-blingy producer which creates startled conversation whenever I share–shows chops FAR beyond its humble source and the pure magic, integration and structure contained guarantees a 30-year wine. Buy as much as you can afford.
2017 HERZOG WINE CELLARS ‘Clone 6 Edition’ Cabernet Sauvignon Chalk Hill Sonoma 14.5