THE first wine I had which made me fall in love with Cardella, and re-visiting today brings all those quality things back with a vengeance. I had never heard of this little oasis on I-5 in California’s central valley–amid miles and miles of forgettable plonk going into boxes on the bottom shelf–and yet here was STUNNING wine crafted from old selections among this myriad of watered-down flatland vineyards. Ruby-garnet in the glass, dark and concentrated, throwing off a musty nose of beauty mired muddily deep in earthy splendor and fruity complexity. Asphalt and barnyard meld perfectly with tertiary leather and patina’d berry, feeling quite *old Italian* but with the focus of new-world ripeness and force of direction.

Tasting it is a wonder: chalky brilliance hits hard and early, acidic rasp edging plump cherry and raspberry in well-defined pathways of elegant balance. Nothing glares at you. No fruit-forward asterisks of chubbiness or cloying sunshine flabbiness. Ruby Cabernet never really *made it* in the ways early proponents designed–kinda like Symphony–it just never really made a conclusive statement. But here the hybrid shines, pulling notes of Cab and Sangio and even Nebb into the glass and onto the palate. Distinct Bordeaux beauty: vegetal and thick with wet linen and petrichor creating briary visions of delicious fruit far into a dusty finish still meandering through tannic corridors. These wines are TWENTY FIVE BUCKS, so stop it with your allegations of my snobbishness! One of the hidden wonders of California.

2014 CARDELLA Ruby Cabernet Vyd 22 District 13 Mendota San Joaquin Valley California 14.7

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