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04.20.2005

2002 Whispering Dove, Oakville, Napa

Mr. Cult Cabernet I presume? Surely you've heard of Screaming Eagle. I tend to use it here at Vinography as more of a metaphor than actually a real wine. It's the 400-700 case production Napa Cabernet made by Heidi Peterson Barrett that sells for $1400 and change at retail. I think I've only ever seen one bottle in my life, and that was a mistake because I don't make enough money to be allowed to see the bottle (they check your tax returns before opening the box at the 3 wine stores in the world that get it).

Well someone has come up with a darn good branding idea. It's called Whispering Dove, "The Alter Eagle" and wants to be the cult Napa Cabernet for the rest of us. Or at least several thousand more of us than its inspired cousin.

The debut vintage of Whispering Dove was cloaked in rumor and intimation, and during the 6 days it took to sell out completely, allegations flew wildly. Some claimed it was excess wine from Screaming Eagle that they didn't want to bottle. No, no, said some, it was merely made from grapes purchased from Screaming Eagle. Others claimed yet that the grapes were from Pahlmeyer, and that Helen Turley was the winemaker, while still others claimed that the whole reason it had the name it did was because Heidi Barrett was the winemaker.

Well I can't clear up all the mysteries on this one, but here's the dirt on this wine: It is a legitimate Napa reserve Cabernet Sauvignon made from grapes of an unnamed source in Oakville (where Screaming Eagle happens to be). It is a label created by Allen Myerson and Mark Newman (who may or may not be the former CEO of eWine.Com, now defunct). They are very tight lipped about who the winemaker is, but seem to indicate that the relationship to Screaming Eagle is in concept only, but again, they're not saying anything.

So what have you got here, then? A little mystery and a lot of marketing. Can't tell you much more about the wine other than what I can guess from tasting it. I'd say that it was picked very ripe and partially destemmed, it saw more new French oak than less, aged for probably 10 to 16 months.

If anyone knows more about this wine, let me know.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is a med to dark ruby color in the glass, and has a perfumed nose of chocolate covered cherries and mocha aromas. In the mouth the first thing you are hit with is a massive amount of sweet oak, that gives way to bright cherry fruit flavors. The wine is supple in the mouth and somewhat well structured, though ultimately unbalanced in favor of the oak and forward fruit, and not as complex as it could be. The finish is moderate, but overwhelmed by oak.

Food Pairing:
I think the high tones of this wine would seem less aggressive if paired with something earthy and meaty, like a beef bourguignon.

Overall Score: 8.5

How Much?: $30

This wine is readily available for purchase via several Internet merchants.

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