44 bottles of wine on the wall, 44 bottles of wine…
The 2½ years that Your West Coast Oenophile has devoted (so far) to creating Sostevinobile occasionally encounters moments that make my inexorable efforts seem all worthwhile, though, to be perfectly honest, attending an event like Taste of Oakville several weeks back, offers little relevance to the Wine-by-the-Glass program I am building (let’s see, if I can pour five glasses from a bottle of $400 Cabernet, that rounds out roughly to $80/glass—assuming I do not intend to make one single cent of profit). Still, depending on how we evolve, our Reserve Wine list and our retail sales will happily embrace each and every wine these über-premium labels allot us.
It would probably be hyperbolic for me to make the assertion that being afforded the opportunity to spend a glorious afternoon amid the hallowed chambers of the Robert Mondavi Winery, sipping what is inarguably the pinnacle of Napa Valley viticulture, seemed tantamount to ascending to heaven. On the other hand, having Zhang Ziyi serve me almost eighty indescribably wondrous Cabernet Sauvignons, Bordeaux varietals, and Meritage blends would come pretty close to my definition of sheer, unadulterated ecstasy.
44) It seemed only fit to begin this afternoon with the 2007 Opus One from the autonomous joint venture of the same name that was founded by Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild (of the two Premier Cru vineyards that bear his name). Though these two departed titans obviously no longer manage this venture, Rothschild’s daughter, the Baroness Philippine, has striven to ensure that Opus One not be enveloped by the corporate ownership that acquired Mondavi in 2004. The result? This vintage of the first true cult wine remains as near-flawless as ever.
43) A quick Internet survey shows bottles of the 2007 Harlan Estate selling for $895 or better. Can a wine really be worth such an exorbitant price? Given the perfect scores it received not only from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate but also the secret Sostevinobile talley sheet I never let anyone view, this flagship bottling from Meadowood’s Bill Harlan could very well be.
42) Joining Opus One and Harlan in this august circle was the 2008 Collina Dalla Valle from Dalla Valle Vineyards. A breathtakingly beautiful wine, it was juxtaposed against a library sample of the 1994 Maya, Dalla Valle’s acclaimed Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon blend that proved stunningly equal, 17 years after bottling, to its younger cousin.
41) There is a sense of prestige and accomplishment in owning a Porsche—unless you happen to own a Lamborghini first. Similarly, the next tier of wines poured at this tasting could have easily headline nearly any other event. A metaphoric Turbo S Cabriolet, Futo Wines offered an astounding find, pouring their 2008 Futo Estate, a multilayered Cabernet Sauvignon blend underpinned by Cabernet Franc.
40) Another 530 Hp wine, the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Tierra Rioja unveiled from its library, presaged an auspicious evolution for the yet-unreleased 2008 vintage they also featured here. I would also note that the winery’s name, meaning “red earth” could not be more befitting the velvety crimson hue of this wine.
39) I can’t keep pace with the various permutations with “Oakville” incorporated in the name of estates that produce wine in this AVA, the most specific being Oakville East Exposure. Their exquisite 2008 Core Stone presented a balanced, textured blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot.
38) I tend to believe that the length of one’s name denotes to an inherent depth or quality. Vine Cliff Winery would probably be concordant with this notion, especially as it pertains to their delightful 2007 Private Stock 16 Rows Cabernet Sauvignon, a label that could not be more precise, unless they identified each individual bud.
37) An interesting winery I had not encountered previously, Spoto, brought out a decidedly mixed selection of Bordeaux style wines, leaving me with a profound preference for its 2007 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon over the other selections in the vertical tasting they poured, as well as over their Meritage blend, the 2008 Cuveé Arianna.
36) Next to Spoto, the renowned Screaming Eagle allotted fractional sips of their Cabernet, the 2008 Screaming Eagle. Make no mistake, this still is a profound wine, but at a minimum of $1500/bottle, I expected not simply to be floored but blown across the room. Allora, this is what inevitably happens when dedicated founders sell their winery—the Jeannie is out of the bottle.
35) Admittedly, I (as do most folks) can sometimes be swayed by attachments or predilections; it has been well documented throughout the years I have been penning the Sostevinobile blog that, in the 1980s, I often made the trek to the real estate offices of Phillips & Harris, Land Broker spurred by an infatuation I never found the temerity to verbalize. Similarly, I concede to having a pronounced affinity for wineries that resonate with my background or feature other commonalities.
I nonetheless am not averse to criticizing places that my predisposition might lend to me favoring, nor have I been daunted from praising the efforts of wineries even if it might raise contention about my objectivity. Case in point, my effusive praise of late for Gargiulo holds no correlation to our shared ties to Hotchkiss but highlights the strides they have made with the Aprile, its Oakville Sangiovese. Here, they even surpassed that effort with their 2008 OVX Cabernet Sauvignon, the fourth bottling of this special estate wine.
34) Had I discovered the website for Hoopes before I had sampled their wine, I am certain I would have found myself just as biased toward their Cabs. In a realm where compelling readers to scroll through a page for content is generally verboten, Hoopes’ home page features a 750 ml bottle of their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon amplified to 333⅓%—a 40" image! The wine itself drinks like a bottling that could easily command similar inflation to $200, despite its relative diminutive $60 retail price. I easily enjoyed it as much as the bold statement its pictorial depiction implies.
In my own efforts to reduce scrolling by my readership, I need now to bring this post to an abrupt halt, knowing full well that the ensuing installment will pick up with yet another eleven amazing finds from this luxuriant gathering.