Hello friends. The sad truth of a wine buyer: you can’t taste everything all the time.
(Or perhaps I should say: *I* can’t taste everything all the time. I have seen others buyers give valiant efforts at trade tastings, usually ending with a slurred goodbye and a wobblewalk out the door).
We all have our own personal rubrics for what to taste when, and why. One of my rubrics is the penalty box (thanks to growing up as a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, who spent plenty of time there). If I taste one rough wine from a producer: two-minute minor. A second: five-minute major.
And friends, I must admit: Patit Creek was in my penalty box for a few years. But the reason I like the penalty box is that it allows for redemption, for second chances. Why write off a winery forever? Things can change.
And in this case they have changed. Dramatically.
A recent tasting of today’s wine was a total shocker and sent me scurrying off for details on how this winery could have altered its course so drastically, so wonderfully. Along with securing those details, I was also able to secure a parcel at a December-only tariff that is nearly 50% off the release price of $29.
The more research I did, the more the quality of this wine began to make sense.
The first fact to be revealed was that Patit Creek had hired a new winemaker (always a good way to swing open the doors of the penalty box): Joe Forest. Long time list members will know how much I admire the work Joe has done under his own Tempus Cellars label. He is a skilled winemaker who works with excellent fruit sources.
The next course of action was to flood Joe’s inbox with questions about the fruit sources, because this just did not taste like a $15 Cab (or a $25 Cab for that matter). When Joe’s e-mail came back, my jaw dropped:
46% old-vine (1972-planted) Cabernet from Sagemoor Vineyard
27% younger Sagemoor Cabernet
15% Pepper Bridge Cabernet
12% Sagemoor Merlot
What-what-what?!? So nearly half of this comes from some of the best old-vine Cabernet material in the state, and all of it comes from superstar growers. I just don’t know what world we live in where this is a $15 wine.
Given those facts (fine winemaker, impeccable fruit source), it’s no surprise that the wine is outstanding. The nose combines plum and violet fruit with dusty notes and barrel nuances of espresso and high-cacao chocolate (58% new oak here; another aspect that belies the tariff). The mouthfeel is rich and plush on the attach and mid-palate, with flavors of crème de cassis and kirsch. Then that old-vine depth emerges, as Cabernet’s lovely black-tea tannins take over in the middle and carry through a long, chewy finish. Power, complexity, balance: all are punching well above their price class here.
Again, today’s tariff only applies to December orders. We may be able to reorder this, but it will be at a higher price. First come first served up to 24 bottles, and the wine should arrive on Wednesday and be available for pickup during our final TPU days of 2012 (or later, of course) or shipping during the spring shipping window.