Ahhh, Pine Ridge. The thing is, I know that I love them, so I usually end up expecting too much them on the outset and truly appreciating the wine midway thru the bottle. The other part is that their wines usually need to sit and open for an hour or two, until they really start to shine. I’m halfway done by then as well. (That one is my fault.)
Pine Ridge is nestled (literally) in the foothills of the Stags Leap District. I had driven by Pine Ridge a few times in prior Napa Valley visits, but nothing really enticed me to pull over until a friend told me to. Personally, I’d suspect that this is how the folks at Pine Ridge PREFER it, as would I if I had a vineyard in the Valley. Tour buses and limos are the kiss of death to a high end winery.
Now that I live on the East Coast – anything I get sent to me needs 3 months+ to settle down until I know what I am dealing with. By then, all the deals are gone and you are stuck or blessed. I bought up a few of these ’05 Oakville Cabernets last year during a special promotion, as they are out of my usual price range at $75/btl. I tried one of the three that I own the week I got them, and I was admittedly disappointed. It was definitely ‘travel sick’, and the fruit was so far removed from the tannins, that it amazed me they could ever charge $75/btl for this. However, my what a difference a year makes!
Now, I need to be honest and say that I have 2 preferred regions of Napa Valley that I like my Cabernet’s to come from – Rutherford (hot, fruit driven, and big) and Howell Mountain (lean, mean, tannin machines). I don’t usually prefer Oakville Cabernets given their prices though. YES, I know the ‘best’ Napa Cabs come from Oakville – I just don’t buy in to it so blindly as some. Maybe the best Napa ADDRESSES are in Oakville, but I think that each AVA and district offers something special.
With that said…This ’05 Oakville Cabernet impresses now. It’s settled. It’s refined. It’s ready to dance.
It opens with a nice mocha/cocao powder and cassis nose. Almost dusty like a Rutherford Cabernet…almost. The other thing that struck me right off the bat was the beautiful fruit to tannin ratio is back and where you’d expect it to be. It doesn’t overpower, but is solid and strong – I suppose that this is what Oakville is known for. (OK, Oakville – you’re swaying me.)
There was an interestingly light peppery/nutmeg note on midpalate, almost baking spices. It almost went unnoticed until I went out to the grill to flip the steaks. The cool fresh autumn air changes a wine (or at least what you notice) instantly, and this subtle spicey, leathery, tobacco-y notes came right thru.
Once back inside the luscious, structured fruit began to take center stage (2 hours since opening) and it just got better and better. This is a wine that is aging VERY well. I think that 3 more years and this will be perfect. Either way, it is a very nicely structured wine from what was a relatively a hot year.
The fruit was a beautiful blend of cherry, raspberry, and cranberry fruits. It was a range of tart to sour, and all wonderful. If you are looking for a Thanksgiving CABERNET, this one would do perfectly.
All in all, The ’05 Oakville has settled down properly, and is beginning to hit it’s stride. It’s is a good representation of what a Stag’s Leap vineyard does with Oakville fruit, and holds true to the tradition of the Pine Ridge style. Nice big ripe Cherry and Raspberry fruit combined with perfectly balanced tannins. Lean, mean, and a long finish…which all adds up to a heck of a bottle of wine.