The first thing that flashed through my mind on first sniff was old Napa cab. Not OLD Napa cab–young cab, but Napa cab from an older time. Not Napa cab the way it smells now, but back 20-30 years ago, when the fruit had a bit different profile from the cabs of today. Crazy spicy eucalyptus buttered down on bright cherry with slight earthy notes of dust and composted berry. A large portion of this blows off with air, showing firm fruit form its black, ruby core.
Tasting it hits hard on these–and other–notes: it’s sharp, it’s brittle and biting, it layers the deep dank notes well down into high sparks of acidity and juiciness. It’s not Merlot. It’s not Cab Franc. It’s not PV or Malbec. It is its own thing, balancing somewhere between Aglianico and Carignan, peppery items showing strong against raspberry and cherry shockingly bright, but never going *fruit-forward* slutty and ripe. The middle is squared off with vegetal, a green-brier lasciviousness perfectly completing the bouquet. It churns and burns at the edges of the tongue, while the core lays down woodsy, tobacco- and leather-infused sexiness. I can’t imagine this thing NOT having 10 or 15 years ahead of it.
2019 DOMINION TANTARA Carmenere Los Olivos District Santa Ynez Valley Santa Barbara Co. 14.0