Good Morning Gentle Readers,
First impressions of the the Vine Cliff were pretty good. A little oak and some ripe bing cherries on the palate with some firm tannins on the back side. Good legs too, but, by the third or fourth sip, the whole thing went south and the oak simply overwhelmed the wine. I began to feel as though I were drinking a lousy wine that somebody tried to salvage by dumping a couple of bags of Texas Smokin' Oak Chips into the vat. Too much oak is akin to infusing the wine with vanilla syrup.
We served the wine with mesquite grilled filet mignon, asparagus garnished with Mrs TWC's hand made hollandaise sauce, and unexploded baked spuds (butter, sour cream, and fresh chives from the Gardens of Casa de las Rocas Grandes). Yes, Gentle Readers, TWC fell right off the wagon and inhaled a fair portion of carbohydrate-laden baked potato.
Vine Cliff was way ahead of the organic curve, having converted to organic, sustainable farming methods two decades ago. Sorry, I have to hold my nose and try not to gag whenever anyone uses the term sustainable. Can't believe I used it my own self.
Since 1990, all of Vine Cliff's vineyards have been managed according to the principles and practices of sustainable viticulture, with a renewed emphasis on natural farming. This has meant that no commercial pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers have been used, when possible, on the vines for more than a decade. Additionally, 10 tons of organic materials are returned to the soil as compost annually. The vineyards have native species of grasses planted as ground cover between the rows of vines. These are never ploughed under but only cut-allowed to naturally compost and further enrich the soil. The most ecologically complex and diverse biosystem has been established at Vine Cliff estate vineyards over the years and has resulted in the protection of its wildlife and habitat.
I'm getting a bit off track here, this is a sixty dollar wine with 90 points from Wine Enthusiast, hence I thought it fair to put it aside for the morrow. Sometimes you're just off your game. Well, now the morrow has come and the bottle sat open on the bar for about 24 hours.
It helped. The wine still has solid tannins & ripe bing cherries. The oak has mellowed, but is still greatly in evidence and detracts from the wine. There is now some pencil lead (cedar) and the wine remains a bit fumey on the nose (fumey is a technical term that means it has the distinctive odor of alcohol). Lissen up Dawg, the wine is just OK for me. For sixty bucks a wine should rock me right.
WINERY TASTING NOTES:
Aroma: An array of fruits with plum, blue berries, red currants, cranberries, and baked cherries. Cinnamon spice, bay leaf, cocoa and white chocolate add depth and complexity.
Palate: Bright sweet fruit at entry with plum, cherry and blueberry fruits. The palate texture is rich, full bodied and powerful. Nuances of mocha chocolate and molasses add oak complexity which lingers with hints of cedar on the finish
2005 was a very good year for California Cabs and Napa Cabernets in particular. One would suspect that in five, maybe ten years this will be a much better wine than it is today. I've got a couple more put away, I'll let you know how it fares.