Friday, June 20, 2008

Frazier Cabernet Sauvignon, Lupine Hill Vineyard 1998

Napa Valley, California 14% alcohol

The first thing I noticed about this wine was the cork, which was longer than average. It felt longer when I was using the Screwpull, and it measured 5mm longer than a typical (I randomly looked at it against half a dozen other corks I had laying around).

The color was dark garnet, with the edge just beginning to turn orange.

Right out of the bottle I got some funk, but it blew off in a few minutes. It was then truffles, black currants, and black fruit, followed by a quick hint of green pepper followed by definite cedar. I thought that was it, but as I brought it to my nose I got tobacco, as well. It was actually pretty hard to separate and identify the different things, it is all so well knit together.

This was just as well knit on the palate. It took some time and a lot of swishing around in the mouth to separate out the different elements. Black currant was there, but so were plum and tobacco, along with nutmeg. On the midpalate this wine added cedar, a passing glance of green olive, then the black fruit again.

This still had a strong backbone of smooth tannins, and finished with tart cherries, plum skins and cloves, which lingered for a long time.

Two hours later (have you tried to get 3 and 5 year old boys to bed in the summertime?) it had changed some. Note, just to be fair to the wine, that it had changed temperature, from 57 in the cellar to (air-conditioned) room temperature. Now there was a touch of vanilla, some plum, and cedar, along with a bit of brambly vegetation - the fruits had calmed down and the tartness of blackberries and currants were not as obvious. I would be far more likely to peg this as a Bordeaux this time around (mostly because of the vegetation and lack of overpowering vanilla/oak).

Blackberries dominate the palate now up front, with tobacco and mushrooms on the midpalate. The mouth feel is a little thin, the wine's Achilles' heel that will keep it from being great, but it is integrated and balanced enough to be very good. Tannins are just barely dusty, not quite silky, but firm, and the backbone is still firm, the finish still long and a bit more tart.

I am really curious how this will show tomorrow night.

Second night, and this has really undergone some changes. Flowers wafted through the room the second I popped the Vacuu-Vin top. The complex nose pumped out gardenias and violets, their sweetness countered by liquid smoke and tarragon, the whole thing held together by an underlying dark fruit.

The palate, too, had added complexity, starting with brambles and licorice, followed by the gardenias and plum skins. Truffles were there, too. Chocolate and the very dark fruit from the nose made their appearance midpalate, then the violets. Burnt caramel and smoke led their way to the finish, a lovely long finish.

This is a nice wine, a very good wine. Based on the two-day drinking I would say it has some more cellar life in it, too.

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