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2000 Rudd Estate Jericho Canyon Meritage

I'm in love with a vineyard. Yes, I know it's irrational, but it's true. There seem to be only two wines made from this vineyard (based on a quick trolling through the top 150 search results on Google) and both of them have been great, one of them unbelievable.

My first exposure to this lovely little nook was off the end of the unbelievable scale. If only I had follwed my instincts and re-mortgaged my house to buy up every last bottle of the 2001 Ramey Jericho Canyon Cabernet when I tasted it at the Family Winemakers event in November. Four weeks later it had 97 points courtesy of Mr. Robert Parker, and it disappeared from the market.

My second was with this wine, which was lovely. The Rudd label is a recent addition to the Napa valley, occupying the Girard vineyard in Oakville, with neighbors like Silver Oak and Opus One. Winemaker Charles Thomas seems well integrated to his neigborhood based on this recent effort. It is a bright, but velvety, oak infused wine done in a classic Bordeaux style, that is reminiscent of Silver Oak. Here's what Robert Parker had to say: "A superbly dense, full-bodied, exquisite effort, it is a blockbuster, yet incredibly harmonious... a winemaking tour de force."

I wouldn't call it a tour de force, especially compared with the Ramey, but it's a darn good wine, and it turned my burning crush (if you'll forgive the pun) into a strong devotion for the fruit from Jericho. The wine is a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is the perfect shade of deep ruby that you dream about for your Cabernets. It shines like a great gemstone in the glass. It's nose is redolent of black cherries and fresh ground coffee, with a hint of woody scent that I am tempted to call cedar, but which eludes that label. The body of the wine is velvety with well integrated tannins, but does not feel as round as it could. The flavors on the tongue are of cherry, smoke, chocolate and a hint of floral notes that may be due to the Cab Franc or the Petite Verdot. The winemaker claims this wine has a long finish, but I found it medium at best, and unfortunately, a slightly hot finish which a wine this well made should not have. This ultimately lowered its score for me. I intend to drink it again over the next couple of days.

Food Pairing:
I just got a new barbecue, and served the wine with a rib eye and grilled asparagus. It was lovely with the meat, and brought out the sweetness of the asaparagus nicely.

Overall score: 8.5

How much?: I got mine for $59 at Cal Wine.. I believe it retails for anywhere from $63 to $100.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud