This is the second release of Napa cab from R&B Cellars. I haven’t had any of the recent offerings but did have the opportunity to taste several of their early vintages when they were released. Those early wines were remarkably consistant. I can’t seem to find any reviews of the ’98 but affairsofthevine.com has a review of the ’99:
“Complex aromas of creosote, leather chair, berry, brown spice, cassis, pomegranate, and black fruit. An irresistible palate and long finish make a good combination.”
With all due respect to the good people at Affairs of the Vine, I call bullshit. This thing is a monster; a sledgehammer that practically knocks you over with chocolate, dark fruit, and every adjective you can think of to express that this is extraction non-personified. With the exception of a relatively low alcohol percentage (in the mid 13% range) it is everything that critics of California cabernet point to and say “Hoot!” It’s a bomb. It is a varietal shock, no sense of terroir, huge, no finesse. It’s an absurd wine and not what I usually prefer to drink. That said, while I was contemplating the the wine over a bite of overwhelmed veal, I realized why I love this wine so much. It’s like Casablanca: a series of cliches that when strung together becomes something pure, monumental, and unbelievably interesting.
It’s been while since I had previously tried this wine, so I don’t feel comfortable commenting on how this wine has or has not mellowed over time. While I suspect that winemakers Kevin and Barbara Brown have developed as wine makers since they made the ’98 vintage, I hope they haven’t mellowed. This wine is cool. Good luck finding it. If you are lucky to come accross it, buy it and let it knock you over. It should cost around $100 to $120 dollars in a wine shop, more in a restaurant (am basing that off of the only wine list I could find on online, which is in Toronto, and then pretending I know the current exchange rate.