What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 18
2019 Shafer One Point Five
When it comes to wine, one of my most painful regrets happened decades ago at Napa’s Shafer Vineyards.
I was enrolled in a multi-day wine course at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in St. Helena. On the last day of class, we took a field trip to Shafer. Arranged in front of each of us was an array of nearly half a dozen glasses of some of the most impeccable Cabernet Sauvignons I’d ever had. I sipped, savored, enjoyed each mouthful blissfully, and then — I spit it all out.
Because right after class, I had to drive home in traffic, hours away. Ouch, the pitfalls of being your own designated driver.
All that glorious wine down the spittoon. It still haunts me. So, when a sample bottle of the 2019 Shafer One Point Five landed on my porch, I nearly leapt for joy.
The name “One Point Five” takes its name from “a generation and a half,” which is how John and Doug Shafer described their father-and-son wine-making partnership. This wine is 83 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 percent Merlot, 3 percent Malbec, and 2 percent Petit Verdot.
The grapes come predominantly from Shafer’s two Stags Leap District sites: the “Borderline” vineyard near the winery and Shafer’s hillside estate vineyard, which is the source of some of its most coveted wines.
This wine is as smooth as it gets for a big red, simply velvety with tannins that caress yet add structure. In the glass, it is redolent of cassis, black cherry, cranberry, lavender and a touch of anise.
Cheers: At $110 a bottle, this is a special-occasion wine for most of us. For me, it proved a fabulous way to complete my husband’s birthday dinner of a massive grilled tomahawk chop with ember-cooked loaded potatoes. And because we cooked it all at home, I happily swallowed every sip.
2020 Blank Verse Chardonnay and 2020 Dirty Minded Sauvignon Blanc
Spain’s RaventÃ³s CodornÃu, one of the oldest wine-growing businesses in the world, has added two new brands to its portfolio — with evocative names meant to make you slow down, sip leisurely, and ponder deeply. Both are made from California Central Coast grapes.
I had a chance to try samples of each: the 2020 Blank Verse Chardonnay and the 2020 Dirty Minded Sauvignon Blanc.
The 2020 Blank Verse Chardonnay ($17.99) sports a whimsical label resembling a collage of cut-out magazine texts pasted together. It bills itself as “poetry in a bottle.” It’s certainly flavors of white peach, quince and pear in a bottle with refreshing acidity and minerality, and just a hint of toastiness.
Don’t worry, there’s nothing X-rated about the 2020 Dirty Minded Sauvignon Blanc ($14.99). Instead, the name is meant to be a reminder that rich soil and good management of it matter greatly in wine-making and environmental sustainability.
The crisp and breezy Sauvignon Blanc smells like summer melons, and tastes of lemon, pineapple, guava and passion fruit.
Cheers: Look for the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc trickling into stores near you. And keep a lookout for Blank Verse Pinot Noir and Dirty Minded Cabernet Sauvignon to be released in May.
2018 Adaptation Cabernet Sauvignon
As John Conover, managing partner, stated in a press release, “Though the name was chosen pre-2020, the timing of Adaptation’s official debut feels especially poignant after a year where we learned to adapt in ways few of us would have thought possible. The 2018 vintage in now a celebration of that resilience…”
The wine was crafted by Jeff Owens, the winemaker behind PlumpJack Collection’s Odette Estate’s inaugural release that scored 100 points.
The 2018 Adaptation is a blend of his favorite local growers: Ink Grade Vineyard, Oso Vineyard, Odette Estate Vineyard, Blue Tooth Vineyard, and Las Amigas Vineyard. It is comprised of 80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 18 percent Merlot, and 2 percent Petite Sirah.
Dark and commanding in a glass, it is full-bodied yet elegant on the palate with lush flavors and aromas of bramble, black tea, dark plum, cherries and blackberries.
Cheers: Find it for sale on the PlumpJack site, Wine.com, and Bounty Hunter. Pour yourself a big glass, and revel in the fact that you’ve not only adapted, but made it through a very trying two-plus years.