What's life without a little splurging? What's California without a little Cabernet? California cabs put us on the map when it came to wine in the 1980's and they continue to be the most popular and expensive wines made in the US. This wine may be a classic example of both (popular and expensive), and it is most certainly a classic example of the category.
Heitz Cellars is one of the original "cult" producers of wine in Napa. So consistent and revered are their wines, that their Cabernet is used by some collectors much like the Dow Jones Industrial Average to gauge the quality and value over time of a given California vintage.
Heitz has been around since 1961 when it was founded by Joe and Alice Heitz who purchased the homestead of an old Italian-Swiss family and its eight acres of vineyards which include the now famous Martha's Vineyard and Bella Oaks Vineyard. The winery has expanded more to more than 300 acres and now produces more than just the original Cabernet.
This particular wine, from the banner year of 1997 in California, is 100% Cabernet, aged for an astounding 42 months in first American Oak (1 year) and then French Oak (2.5 years) before bottling. It was released in February of last year, and every one of the 5600 cases was probably sold out before they even went on sale.
A dark garnet in color, this wine has a remarkable nose filled with classic cherry aromas mixed with dark wet earth, flint, and even some floral notes which were elusive but reminiscent of lavender or sage. In the mouth it is perfection -- satin smooth with flavors of black cherry, cassis, black tea, and luxurious soft tannins that cushion the flavors and envelop them as they head towards a finish that seems to go on for minutes. Exquisitely balanced and complex. Truly extraordinary.
With a wine this good, one hardly needs much. Something simple with basic essential flavors and some sauces that can be mopped up with bread, like this veal roast with fresh figs.
Overall Score: 10
How Much?: $150
Who buys $150 wines anyway? Not a lot of people. Certainly not me with any regularity. However, some things are worth a splurge, and if you ask me, this is a deal compared to paying $350 for a Chateau Latour or some other major French wine that got 98 points from Parker. (This one only got 90). It is available at higher end wine stores like K&L or Plumpjack.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
I'll Drink to That: Nicoletta Bocca of San Fereolo Book Review: Shadows in the Vineyard by Maximillian Potter Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 5/8/16 I'll Drink to That: Tom Peters of Monk's Cafe Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 1, 2016 I'll Drink to That: Daniel Brunier of Vieux Télégraphe Vinography Images: Green Gold I'll Drink to That: Angelo Gaja of Gaja Winery Hungarian Wine: Hope, Dreams, Heritage and Progress Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 5/1/16
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune