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02.03.2005

2002 X Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

Why should wine lovers constantly be tasting wines, even from wineries that don't make great wines? Because they can, and sometimes do get better. Now I'm not saying you should be going out and buying cases of stuff from wineries whose wines you don't like. But what I am saying is don't write anyone off completely. Case in point: this wine from X Winery up in Napa. Their 2001 Cabernet was one of the first wines I tasted and wrote about after starting Vinography, and frankly I hated it. It was vegetal and tannic and really closed. I was probably unduly harsh on it at the time, perhaps I even had a bad bottle, but it really didn't do much for me. However, I had an opportunity to recently try their 2002 Cabernet, and what a difference. The '02 is a completely different wine and one that I would buy and recommend to others.

My earliest review of their wine was also a little short on the details about this winery, so let me fill some of them in. X Winery (and it's parent/sister label, Amicus) got its start relatively recently (2000?) as the brain child of Reed Renaudin, who, after getting multiple degrees in winegrowing and winemaking from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, spent time working for Gallo, Heitz, and Cuvaison before deciding to start his own gig.

X seems focused on leading edge technology as well as leading edge branding. From the use of Controlled Atmosphere Pressing (a technology that prevents the crushed grapes and their juices from coming into contact with oxygen in the attempt to preserve certain flavors which are believed to change with air exposure) to the use of naked women on their web site with the winery's logo tattooed on their backs, X seems focused on pushing the envelope of what winemaking is and how to sell the results. For this alone, they deserve some attention. When you couple that with their dedication to alternative packaging (they are experimenting with boxed wines) they're definitely one to keep an eye on.

X Winery got its name after a search for potential names yielded a list of a few possibilities, and to decide on a final one, everyone put an "x" next to the one they liked. It turns out that everyone liked the "x" better than the names, and so it stuck.

The winery is rapidly expanding its portfolio of wines to include a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, a red blend, a syrah blend named "Syrahtica," a Pinot Noir, 2 Cabernets, and one single vineyard Cabernet under the Amicus brand.

This particular Cabernet is made up of a mix of fruit from appellations all over Napa valley: 40 % Yountville, 25 % Spring Mountain District, 20 % Rutherford, 8% Howell Mountain, and 7% Saint Helena. I believe X is an estate-less winery, meaning that they purchase all of their grapes on contract with different growers, who give them a certain level of control over sections or even entire vineyards for one or more growing seasons.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is a medium ruby color in the glass and has a nose dominated by aromas of blueberries, chocolate, black cherries and the slightest hint of black truffles. In the mouth it is all cherries and chocolate, with some notes of mint and anise in its moderate finish. The light tannins and decent mouthfeel are balanced by a reasonable acidity making it a very easy wine to drink.

Food Pairing:
Since this wine is young and hip, let's not pair it with the traditional steak or prime rib. Let's go for something cosmopolitan, like kefta kebabs, those mouthwateringly tasty ground lamb brochettes from the middle east.

Overall Score: 9

How Much?: $18

This wine is available from various Internet merchants.

Comments (4)

02.03.05 at 8:08 PM

I just tasted today the X Winery Red X, which is a blend of Syrah and other Bordeaux varietals for $12, and really liked it. Great nose and flavors for the price. Highly recommended!

jeremy s wrote:
02.06.05 at 11:09 AM

Agree fully with previous poster. The Red blend is excellent and surpringingly complex for its price point. I was a little skeptical (as is natural with a somewhat gimmicky presentation) and I only bought it because Vino! in Berkeley had it in their recommended section; but, boy I'd love to have a few bottles stored away.

Scott Humpnreys wrote:
05.12.06 at 10:31 PM

I have bought two cases of this and really love it. A great wine for the price.

Randall Brownbury wrote:
07.30.07 at 5:27 PM

The X Winery Napa Cab is such a treat, and it has gotten better each year. I was just able to find the 2004 for the first time, and it is amazing! Great berry flavors, it's a fantastic example of a great vintage. It is good now, and good for aging. I bought 6 bottles, and might join the wine club to get deals and cases. I love their stuff too, and I was just looking online, and apparently they have a new Tasting Room that just openend in downtown Napa. I will definitely be checking that out when I visit!!

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