Drinking the USA
It was the 4th of July and it felt a bit unpatriotic to drink anything besides domestic wine. In the spirit of the holiday, I opened myself up to revisiting some Napa Valley wines, which is one region I don't traditionally drink.
Oh man, I am so happy I gave myself over to the West Coast. At dinner Friday night, we went with a bottle of Jordan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, CA, 2010 and Saturday we gave the 2009 a test run.
By law in the US, these wines need to be composed of 75% of the primary grape in order to be named single varietal. What this means is that although they are dominantly Cab Sauv, technically they are a blend (I dare you to try pulling this stunt with a Brunello) The 2010 was 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec. The 2009 varied slightly, with 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec. How did the compare? The 2010 showcased riper, richer berries and the tannins were softer and better integrated. Hints of mocha and chocolate also came through as the wine opened up. The 2009, on the other hand, felt a bit leaner and more angular and there was a more dominant presence of oak tannins on the tongue. This vintage could probably use a bit more aging and the bottle itself could have benefited from some decanting.
The shining diamond in all this was the other bottle of wine on Saturday: the Opus One, Napa Valley, CA, 2006. Opus One makes a Bordeaux-style blend: 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec. Interestingly enough, although the wine contains the required 75%+ Cab Sauv, it chooses not to identify as a single varietal.
Truthfully, I've always been put off by Opus One. When I visited the winery a few years ago, I wasn't overwhelmed by what I tasted and I couldn't get over the audacity of charging me $35 for a 1/4 of a glass "taste." That's some shit right there.
However, this wine was stellar. Deep raspberry and blueberries were immediately apparent and met by tobacco and smoked meat. Chocolate and mocha again made an appearance, rounded out by a full body and silky feeling in the mouth. I wish we had decanted it for a bit before we started drinking because those last few sips were something special.