Tuesday, January 23, 2007

[Fruit] Bombs Away!! Balance at Over 16% Alcohol??

I don't get up in arms like some about the inexorable increase in the alcohol levels of both red and white wines in California. Severe crop reductions, leaf pruning and longer hang time push the sugar content of the harvested grapes higher, resulting in the rising alcohol levels. Or so we're told. At any rate, some complain that the increase in alcohol makes for huge fruit bombs that are searingly hot or port like. Maybe. My biggest complaint is that after two glasses I get a wicked buzz and end up with a headache the next am; not advisable on a school day if you KWIM.

Which brings me to Delectus Winery in Napa Valley. Started in 1995 by Austrian owner and winemaker Gerhard Reisacher, his wife Linda and their dog Flash ( now deceased ), Delectus survives on purchased grapes and makes fantastic red wines of all types, focusing on Cabs that compete with the top 10 or so best wines in any given vintage. The Delectus Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Sacrashe Vineyard 2001 received a 96 from the Wine Spectator and at $75 a bottle is a relative bargain. The Reisachers, with daughter Julia adorning the Cuvee Julia labels with her art, purchased over 100 acres in the Mount St. Helena area overlooking Knights Valley and they are in the process of planting all Bordeaux varietals plus Petit Sirah. The future is wide open for this winery, and I have found their club, unimaginatively known as Club Delectus, to be a fine value both for the regular shipments of really good wines, often "libaried" and no longer generally available, and the discount on club member purchases.

Anyway, last evening I opened a bottle of the Delectus 2004 Argentum Napa Valley Red Wine, a Cab-driven blend including Merlot, Petite Sirah and Syrah. Halfway through my second glass I noted that the wine has an alcohol content of 16.2%. Holy S&$t!! The wife grabbed a full glass and loved it, not knowing what laid in store in the morning (she's a lightweight). At $22 a bottle this is a real value but I only wish that it was dialed down a notch or two so I could drink more of it at one sitting; as it was I had about a half glass too many and my head hurts.

Tasting Notes: Nose of chocolate nougat, blackberry and black licorice, loads of rich dark fruit and cinnamon, supple with teeth-coating tannins, a bit muddled/confused mid-palate, with a very strong Cab finish of tar and black cherry. Good balance given the alcohol level.

Rating: Tasty

Cheers, Barrld


Jack said...

"Severe crop reductions, leaf pruning and longer hang time push the sugar content of the harvested grapes higher, resulting in the rising alcohol levels."

Actually, the recent clones used are also thought to have upped the alcohol.

-- Jack, www.ForkandBottle.com

Jack said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Barrld said...

Thanks for the comments Jack, I made some changes! You can reach me at barrld@yahoo.com.

Cheers, Barrld

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