Domestic Selection: Cabernet Sauvignon, 1984, Jade Mountain

If you want history, try to read the label on this bottle. Some cor­relation! But here is the current story of this winery.

Proprietor Dr. Douglas Cart­wright has actually been growing grapes for many years on his spa­cious ranch in Northern Sonoma County, having planted 34 acres there in 1964. Prior to the 1984 harvest he sold all of his grapes to other wineries, notably Louis Mar­tini and Chateau Montelana (for those of you who don’t remember, the Chateau Montelana Cabernet’s of the ’70’s were exceptional, making Napa Valley Cabernet makers nervous). This is prime vineyard territory. In fact, the Icar­ia Creek section of Dr. Cart­wright’s 2000 acre ranch has had vines cultivated on it since the turn of the century. All this produces a very unique situation; a brand new winery with it’s first release being made of grapes from vines at least twenty years old ! Currently, Ca­bernet Sauvignon accounts for more than half the annual yield of Jade Mountain Winery.

A famous “immigrant” from France’s fabled Bourdeaux region, the Cabernet Sauvignon grape lends itself to being vinified into two main styles of wine. Frequent­ly encountered, the “classic” Cali­fornian Cabernet is a “big” wine, formidably full-bodied, full fla­vored, and moderately to heavily laden with tannin (that component of wine that in the finish makes you feel like you have tea bags in your mouth). The second style less commonly seen in California is the somewhat lighter-bodied, user-friendly, “claret” style cabernet, bestowed with Bordeaux-like gen­tility produced by vineyard manag­ers and winemakers who under­stand the meaning of restraint. This months wine is a splendid ex­ample of the latter.

Opening with a deceptively Bordeaux like clear regal garnet color this wine offers a rich, entic­ing, bouquet of cedar (ageing ha, enhanced this), black cherry, plum, and vanilla. The wine has “grip” – a firm body which, though lean, impinges itself upon the pa­late. The black cherry component really coming through here. The finish is velvety and lingering. This is definitely a “food wine” that demands to be served at room temperature with roast beef, lamb or sweet breads. Or try with rich buttery cheeses like Boursin and St. Andre on crispy french bread.

Cellaring Notes: Smooth now, this wine will continue to soften for several more years. A collectible Cabernet.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

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