Black black purple impenetrable black purple with no edge. Thick grainy and staining. Huge eucalyptus and alcohol roiling up at you, tethered with sweet sweet cassis, oak and toffee–all the while arguing desperately with the ripe cherry fruit, concentrated and heavy. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows 2nd labels are one of my favoritest topics on the planet. I LOVE second-labels! They almost ALWAYS represent an INCREDIBLE value. Yes, they almost always require a little extra explanation, as people can not spot the pedigree from across the room. This one is a little atypical as the primary winery plainly prints their name on the back label: DARIOUSH. This is very rare. Almost NEVER do wineries take credit for their 2nd labels. They usually have their own websites and everything. And the TRUE value of 2nd labels comes from Napa Valley, where finding a cab under 60 bucks is becoming quite a chore. 2nd labels typically represent a good 25%-30% lower price than their flagships, and often it runs more like 50%. I’m not sure what this one runs, but am guessing 60-70 retail to Darioush Cabernet’s 110-120? I adore Darioush Cab and their Merlot almost moreso and sample it whenever possible. And now we have Caravan. I am not suggesting they are the same wines. Not. At. All. I had Darioush Cab recently and I can promise you they are not the same wine. I am not going to compare them here–this post is about CARAVAN, not Darioush. In the mouth, a slight pause on the tongue before the fruit and tannin fairly explode across the palate in more grainy, thick waves. This thing is so thick and dark when poured and transmits absolutely NO light and tastes so grainy, I inspected it closely under bright light and it is indeed crystal clear! It just doesn’t look or taste like it. So thick and inundatingly dense with heavy concentrated black fruit, tar and leather balled up against all sensors, you have to CHEW your way through this wine. But it’s balanced! We’ve all ‘chewed’ our way through tannin-bombs or jam-bombs which leave you wanting in the opposite category but this one WORKS. Initially I was concerned there was not enough fruit to withstand any sort of aging against this tannic monster but with a few hours air, I am no longer worried. There is TONS of fruit–ripe, decadent, bright, pungent, elegantly abrasive fruit–dangled seductively over an inviting bed of tannins, which at first light are huge and bitter and finish out to green and sprightly. It’s only June and this is EASILY in contention for Top-5 WOTY. Get it locally at The Grape Empourium.
2012 CARAVAN Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 14-8