Vineyard 292003 Cabernet Sauvignon
(St. Helena ~ Napa Valley)
There can be no question that this is a Cabernet Sauvignon fashioned and stylized by Napa Valley uber-winemaker consultant Philippe Melka. Yes, the fruit is forward – luscious and sweet from estate grapes that had been left out in the vineyard until they reached 26.7 Brix. But it must be said, that Melka, who came to the valley from France, has had enough experience now with the region and its terroir, that his wines, while once were decidedly showy – are now more in balance.
Melka made this wine for Covad founder Chuck McMinn with restraint, in spite of the fact that he utilized all new French oak for 20 months; and he managed to bring the wine in a shade under the Maginot line of 15 percent. Here, it’s at a listed 14.8 percent, but the alcohol as well as the oak, are all of a piece.
Perhaps that’s because the vines from which the wine was made, like Melka himself, are maturing as they reach the 16- to 19-year range. Additionally, the wine was neither fined, nor filtered – a good thing as it ages, as I think it will, for at least a dozen years. It’s approachable now – if you don’t mind drinking up what is a sizeable investment before you have a chance to make some equity. McMinn, who earned his money when he founded one of the first broadband providers, has produced only 550 cases of this wine.
Reviewed July 3, 2006 by Alan Goldfarb.
Alan Goldfarb has been writing about and reviewing wine for 17 years. His reviews have been published in the St. Helena Star, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Examiner, Decanter, and Wine Enthusiast, among others. Not once has he used a point system, star system, or an iconic symbol to quantify a wine. What counts in Mr. Goldfarb’s criteria when judging a wine is: how it tastes in the glass; is it well-constructed; its food compatibility; and presence of redeeming regional attributes.