“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with them…the people who give you their food give you their heart.”….. Cesar Chavez

This one was easy.  I went to their house and brought the food.  To cinch the deal, I also brought the wine and cooked the food. But we were already long-time friends.  In retrospect, I think the wine assured we would remain so. This is Napa juice in that rich, lusciously decadent style that earned Napa Cabernet Sauvignon international attention.

The entree plate served up thick slices of sweet onion baked in beef broth and coconut aminos, drained then broiled quickly with Gruyere cheese.  Oven roasted beets (red, golden and Chioggia) with goat cheese, fresh thyme and sage and, finally, grass-fed filet mignon over a bed of Shitake mushrooms finished in a light sherry cream sauce.

Cabernet Sauvignon is to steak as the magician is to your kid’s party.  Its tannins transform the steak’s protein and it’s magically symbiotic; the steak elevating the wine and the wine returning the compliment, eliciting oohs, aahs and wows from the “audience”.  Putting a meal together for five by one’s self and in someone else’s kitchen guarantees that some things will not go well, especially for just an average cook, rushed, and with less than acceptable plating skills.  But as I’ve often said, if the wine is good, really good, some errors will go unnoticed. And yes, this wine is that good.

The juice is 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot, aged 80% in NEW French Oak and comes from their estate vines grown on the eastern side of sun drenched Oakville. All that sun creates rich, fully ripened fruit and all that new oak adds luxurious secondary notes.  The nose is rich with blackberry, currant, black cherry and cedar woven together in a fine tapestry with a hint of sage.  Blackberry carries onto the palate, joined by cassis, bell pepper, black olive, graphite, oak and vanilla.  Fruit is rich, but offset by the cedar and notes of leather, herbs and spice.  Other tasters note anise, mocha, mint, licorice and charcoal.

Despite its rich fruit, creamy, silky and gliding across the palate, Plumpjack is concentrated and focused and should age well, becoming more complex, through 2029.  It has a medium plus finish that will probably extend itself with aging but is a delicious experience now.  Tannins are perfectly integrated.  And there’s no “heat” on the finish, allowing the fruit and secondary notes to dissipate naturally without being cut short or obscured by alcohol burn. 

The Plumpjack Winery and Vineyard dates back to 1881 when it was then known as Mount Eden Winery.  Multiple shifts and changes to 1995 when it became Plumpjack.   In 2000 (because of cork taint damaging the wine industry across the board) Plumjack boldly moved to twist-off closures on 50% of their Reserve 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon, demonstrating a commitment to quality at the risk of market perception. Forward to 2016, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate awarded 100 points to Plumpjack’s 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Back now to this 2009: Despite its ARP of $130, supplies of Plumpjack sell out quickly with bottles of this vintage now being sold on auction at prices above $210. At either price, this is not your “daily red” but a special occasion bottle or gift bottle for lovers of Cabernet Sauvignon.   Look for current vintages.  2009 was rated (as a vintage) 96, but so was 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 and can you some money on that “once in a lifetime” experience.

………………… Jim

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PlumpJack Winery
620 Oakville Cross Rd
Oakville CA 94562

ALC:                                                  14.8%
Robert Parker                                     94 Points
Wine Enthusiast                                 93 Points

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