It’s possible I may have a bit of a bucket list for wine-related things, just sayin’.
I’ve enjoyed fresh oysters in Cancale buttressed by glasses of Muscadet, had a private tasting with the Queen of Priorat, and in summer 2015, got Steven Spurrier to sign my copy of The Judgement of Paris. While he didn’t author it, he was the protagonist.
Another of my wine bucket list goals is to make it, eventually, to all of the wineries that participated in that event – the Judgement of Paris. This famous double blind tasting organized in 1976 by the above-mentioned Spurrier introduced Californian wines to a very skeptical France.
Freemark Abbey, whose 1969 Cabernet Sauvignon and 1972 Chardonnay were part of that storied tasting, can now come off my list.
Logan – who has a Canadian fiancée pastry chef studying at the nearby Culinary Institute of America – was our guide. Their first sampling room opened in 1946 and is resplendent with its original stone and old growth, California red wood. Home to Napa’s first female vintner and now to the same winemaker for the past 36 years, the stunning facility was retrofitted 2 years ago and boasts an incredible, live edge, red wood tasting table.
I tasted the 2014 Viognier, Oak Knoll – super peachy and nectarine with honeysuckle, the 2013 Riesling, Los Carneros, Napa Valley – with its whiff of petrol and light lemon – and the 2014 Chardonnay – 20% oak, no malo, pineapple and mango, tons of citrus, minus the butter – to start with.
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – 75%, 5% Petit Verdot and the rest Merlot, a nice snapshot of valley and mountain fruit, the 2012 Bootleg Cabernet Sauvignon – more valley dynamics from different vineyards, fruit forward with boysenberry pie and big tannins – and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain – with its purple fruit and heavy tannins – followed.
I also tried the 2012 Ted’s Blend – a Cabernet Sauvignon of all three Rutherford vineyards – and the 2012 Cabernet, Bosché from the vineyard that produced the valley’s best grapes in the 60s. This 2012 version was awarded 97 Robert Parker points.
I left Freemark Abbey with a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bosché. Ready to drink, we enjoyed it recently. Deep, deep garnet with a slight browning on the rim, it was loaded with aromas of dried strawberry, sagebrush, saddle soap and a touch of fern. Initially there was tobacco which faded as it opened in the decanter.
On the palate, it is dry with medium acidity and softly strained tannins that melted with our steaks. Flavours include bramble berry with tobacco, leather and a solid finish. Initially restrained, after breathing, it opened up.
If you’re holding a bottle, drink now and don’t wait on this WSET Very Good version of the famed Bosché vineyard.