If there were ever a shining example of a vin d’effort, this wine is likely it.
Unfathomably black in the glass, this wine smells damn good in exactly the same way that breast implants look good: you can’t help but like it, even if you recognize that those tell-tale half-grapefruits aren’t even remotely, you know, human. The color of this wine is straight up sci-fi, the color reminiscent of an inky black, otherworldly, viscous ooze that looks like it’s about to do something nasty to Tasha Yar. The nose is moderately complex, with suggestions of Asian spices in a forgotten cedar box that someone’s stashed in amongst strawberries mixed with rising dough; yes, it’s very Cabernet after a fashion, but entirely without the green, leafy notes that so often add interest. At times, though, it reminds me of a shoeshine stand in a dusty Delta town not too far away from Napa; at other times, it tends towards stewed prunes and pencil shavings. You have to admit, though, that this wine is incredible value for what it is: with all of this going on, I’d expect the price tag to be twice as much.The progression of the wine is simultaneously surprising and trite. Wonderfully balanced the initial impression (fleeting, mind you!) is of a vapid California cabernet, quickly resolving into something much more interesting, with sneaky acidity firming up against a billowing cloud of smoky red fruit, which suddenly vaporizes into an entirely delicious, savory, dark expression of Cabernet that – although it doesn’t really seem particularly Californian, or particularly anywhere in particular at all – is admittedly entirely fabulous. It smooths out on the finish even further, transmogrifying into something that damn near approaches pure pleasure, going on for an age, suggesting nothing more than raspberry liqueur, baker’s chocolate, and perhaps star anise. Tannins make themselves known, yes – who snuck in and put socks on all my teeth? – but they’re fully ripe and in their right place here.
To sum up, this is for my money a home run, no questions asked. Sure, there’s no real sense of place or any strange, haunting beauty here, but honestly: do we always, always have to care? Surely it’s sometimes enough to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the contents of a shrink-wrapped magazine or bottle of well-crafted wine? Isn’t it?