Going down to the cellar for National Cabernet Day–Wait. When did that start?!? Who thought if it?!? We’ve never had Cabernet day!!! This is absolute Social Media BUNK, sheeple!–anyways… going down for a cab tonight I was thinking Napa, definitely, and perhaps boutique, because the large wineries either have a) decided not to play the public-pity-game, b) locked doors and put a strangle-hold on staff and cleaned up in silence, or c) suffered no damage whatsoever. Of course, a lot of this goes back to my Map of Napa. You all have seen my patented Map of Napa, right? Maybe it is time for me to trot it out. Help everyone understand Napa.
Now, there are still a lot of people who will not get it, but the basic point is: there aren’t a lot of wineries in Napa. The huge power-houses we associate with Napa are in The Napa Valley–St. Helena, mostly, and therefore my vote is for c) above in the earthquake damages. In NAPA PROPER, there are custom-crush facilities and cheap warehouse space, which is the reason so many tiny, boutique wineries were so impacted by the earthquake. Napa Barrel Care? The place all the pictures you have seen are from with the mountains of toppled barrels? There were probably 200-300 labels represented in those pictures.
But remember? I was going down to get cab. With boutique in mind because of all the small producers destroyed by the earthquake. But I have also been having a bit of a nostalgic streak going and as I perused the shelves, it intensified. There are two sides to wine country. The fresh beauty and the nostalgic. For whatever reason, I chose a grand-daddy to open tonight.
Now, I had a pretty pre-disposed opinion of what this would taste like. Classic Napa Valley wineries fall into one of two categories: Watered-down and over-blown. Sometimes it is hard to tell them apart. The bottom-line is the need to adapt to a tourist-driven palate. Wineries have Boards-of-Directors and Shareholders now. Put it this way: You pour a three-year-old 1996 BV Rutherford today and not a SINGLE person on the Wine Train is gonna buy it. But pull out a 24-month-old Sinegal and everybody gushes.
But back to this selection. I assumed this wine watered down and sold-out, but astonishingly, it is not horribly. It actually is QUITE an unfriendly wine, up front–a death-knell for touristy wines. Deep, deep clear ruby with garnet edges. Big, musty CLASSIC NAPA mineral nose with that St. Helena plum and an old barrel lurking, but hark! What is this: Alcohol? Breathes off a tad ripe and glycerin-ey too, so sad. Fruit is noticeably riper than 1996 and 1986 and 1976, but somehow it still carries all those classic nuances behind it which scream, “100-year-old Napa Winery.” Maybe it is the overall thin-ness which separates this from a boutique wine. It is NOT thin–it’s just EVERYTHING doesn’t have to be Silver Oak and Shafer, people!
I really like this wine, the licorice and vanilla nose is absolutely intoxicating and the supple old-cellar nuances over the middle turn into tannins only a mother could love–with just the right amount of polish showing. I dare say this wine COULD be good in 20 years. And that, indeed, is the true test of Napa. They have done a bang-up job of balancing the heritage of Louis Martini with the desires of a modern palate. The classics, man.
2006 LOUIS MARTINI Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 14.2