2013 Croze Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville
For our first Grape note we wanted to pick a wine that has character, is meaningful and also represents a certain connection to the wine selection at Pipe and Pint. The 2013 Croze Cabernet Sauvignon seemed like a perfect fit. To start things off, winemaker Daniel Benton is originally from North Carolina and a friend of Larry’s and Pete’s. Also, Daniel is a great fan of Bordeaux style wines which as I will talk more about later, clearly shows in this particular wine and definitely appeals to me personally.
Let me say this up front, I love wines that apart from being powerful and bold, also show finesse and a somewhat classic style and this wine definitely matches those criteria. I quote the great wine writer Jancis Robinson in saying that “wine is geography in a bottle” and with a bit of experience it’s usually quite easy to at least somewhat narrow down the region where a wine is from. For example, Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley tend to be big, bold wines that are not afraid to hide the sun they have received in the vineyards and the new oak barrels they were aged in during the wine making process. Lots of dark fruit (blackberry and black cherry come to mind) and maybe some spice and wooden notes paired with smooth vanilla aromas and a rich smooth finish are common descriptors. Open up a bottle of high quality Bordeaux on the other hand and while showing similar aromas both on the nose and palate, the overall characteristic and texture of the wine tends to be a little more edgy and not as quick to reveal everything up front which makes it quite intriguing. The best analogy I can think of is comparing the general easy-going way of Americans with the sometimes a little more, let’s call it eccentric personality of the French. The wines from these respective origins seem to follow those traits somewhat.
Daniel Benton’s 2013 Croze Cabernet Sauvignon is a great wine because it doesn’t necessarily reveal its origins right away. It sort of keeps you guessing for a little. Is it a Napa Cab? Could it be a Bordeaux from the left bank? And that’s exactly what makes it so incredibly appealing. Think of it as combining the best of both worlds. Yes, it does open up with powerful and bold aromas of fresh blackberry, a little cassis and plum notes and continues with mellow spice and a hint of chocolate and mild tobacco flavors on the palate but it does so in an incredibly balanced and almost subtle way. The aromas don’t overpower and it becomes clear that the wine was never overexposed to too much new oak (in fact only 30%) which preserves the fruit, a nice acidity and finesse along with a soft but definitely present tannin structure. With a little air there was further development in the glass with hints of freshly cut cedar wood and the balance of dark and red fruit became even more integrated, leaving me wanting to pour a second and third glass to find out what else it would reveal to me.
So, this is definitely a Napa Cabernet, in fact it is grown in one of Napa’s most outstanding vineyards in the Oakville district, often referred to as Money Road because of the density of high quality vineyards. When drinking it you will feel the attention to detail and origin for sure but if you close your eyes this wine can also take you on a journey to the old world which in combination with its overall excellent structure, makes it a true gem for me. It definitely drinks bigger than it is and represents great value for money. It can be enjoyed now or age another decade. Congrats on a great wine, Daniel Benton!