2013’s Should Be Barrel-Samples

Clear purple ruby with microscopic clear edges.  Initially fruit-FWD, young and almost cloying with little else in the nose.  Terribly closed-in and only revealing microscopic bits of this and that–all cloaked behind the adolescent fruit.  Decanted.  Slowly a complexity grows, showing little bits of musk and sweat and briar, tiny bits of red dust and the fruit intensifies over several hours to a dark blackberry drop rounded out with banana peel, root and a lovely slight vegetal.  See, now THIS is where 2013 Napa cabs should be at at this point in their career.
I’ve only tasted a few 13’s so far, and read about far more.  There was, of course, the steaming pile of concocted crap STACKHOUSE the other day.  There was the highly-lauded CLOS DU VAL a couple weeks ago–which I liked–but still had very little of the *rawness* of this bottle.  There was the excellent FORMAN second label which was *closer* to this, but that’s about it in a quick scan of my blog.  The point is, in my very humble and EXTREMELY OLD-FASHIONED opinion, 2013 Napa Cabs shouldn’t be drinking all that well.  I don’t CARE if it is the Vintage of the Decade (of course you’ve never heard THAT before), it should not be big and ripe and lush and have elegance and polish:  It should drink like a BARREL SAMPLE.  And this one definitely fits that profile.  Barrel-tasting in CA has taken on a whole new focus–or LACK of one–in the past 20 years with the demise of ‘futures’ and the almost ubiquitousness of that loveliest of all cash-cows for 2-digit IQ’s: the Wine-Club.  Barrel tasting in the days of futures mean honestly analyzing and evaluating still-evolving red wines at an age they WERE NOT meant to be consumed in order to lay stake on something you hope your tongue–and especially nose–would thank your wallet for many years later.  In the current era of wine-marketing, barrel-tasting is an opportunity to bring all the tourists to the winery, make them feel like they have some sort of connection with the wine-making process, giggle, BBQ, and get drunk.  No one really is critical of the barrel-samples now; they already belong to the club; they’re GOING to get the wines eventually in the mail; and “Oh hey, that’s young!” is about all you get.
I know this wine is not a blingy bottle.  I know it is on the list of every pseudo-French old-school restaurant in the United States.  It falls slightly above my favoritest of all wine topics: 25$ Napa Cab.  There’s no catchy label, no rock-star winemaker (other than Justin Meyer), just the same old wine made in the same old place–like it has for 40 years.  Yes, it is Constellation, but whaddya gonna do.
In the mouth, bitterly rich, with that magnificent BDX *richness & thinness* at the same time.  Fruit ripe and grainy, more blackberry candy with high-desert sage and chaparral combining with the blowing saline dust.  Green, massive, un-relenting tannins take hold almost immediately, attempting to obfuscate the fruit.  They do a pretty good job at it, but the fruit puts up a lingering fight long long long into last light.  A full 1-point-oh below the three mentioned above, so there’s THAT.  This is a classic wine I would happily drink in 20 years, but in terms of the current American palate I guarantee it is not more than an 87-point wine.

2013 FRANCISCAN ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley  13.5


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