Alibi V.16 No.9 • March 1-7, 2007 

It's Just Grape Juice

Drink What I Like

“Drink what you like” is an old adage in the wine community, meaning you should drink the type and kind of wine that you enjoy. What nonsense! You want to know what all the cool kids (mainly me) are drinking and what great wines I collect and drink, so let’s change that adage to: “Drink what I like.” It’s only natural for people to want to know what the fabulous people are doing. And now that I have obtained my allotments from the local stores, I am happy to let you fight over what's left. Let me give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at what I bought this past year to grace my fabulous wine cellar.

2002 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon ($185)

Shafer vineyards first popped up on my radar when I read an article about their winemaker, Elias Fernandez; one of the very few Hispanic winemakers in Napa. (Thought there’d be tons of Hispanic winemakers, right? Nope. They pick the grapes, but rarely control the winemaking of one of Napa’s most powerful vineyards.) To my delight, not only did I like the story of their winemaker, but their wine is top-notch—every wine with the Shafer label is phenomenal. It is one of the only brands that I am completely loyal to. From their Merlot to their Chardonnay, they never disappoint. But no one wine in their portfolio is more sought after than the world-famous Hillside Select.

Aptly named, this wine is grown on a glorious hillside of their vast vineyard. While extremely closed off and too young to drink, this wine embodies perfection with its deep, rich, toasty fruit flavors. How they’re able to balance such intense concentrated power with unbridled elegance is beyond me. But really, to drink this wine is to ruin a great piece of art—this wine is the shining star in my collection, the precious gem in my crown (or should I say tiara?). And if I ever go broke, I could easily auction it off.

2003 Staglin Cabernet Sauvignon ($125)

Staglin is a super-exclusive, super-classy vineyard. So much so that I couldn’t even get into the tasting room on my last trip to Napa. (Bastards—don’t they know who I am? At least they didn’t ask me to get back to picking the grapes.) Take a moment to breathe this wine in—the perfumed fruits are gloriously ripe. Swirl this wine in the light to see it shimmer like crimson glitter. Taste the supple, ripe plum, cassis and slate. This wine will only get better with age and is one of the best wines to collect due to its low production and high demand.

2003 Hewitt Cabernet Sauvignon ($70)

For the money, this Hewitt is huge—so deep, so rich, so classicly Cab. The tannins are exquisite; the dark berry and plum flavors are scrumptious, like pouring liquid elegance on your tongue. It even comes in a really substantial bottle that makes you feel like you spent your money well. While this wine doesn’t have the collectibility of the other wines on this list, it does have the ability to win over anyone who drinks it. I love to pull this wine out to impress my dates without having to sacrifice one of my truly collectible wines.

2003 Kathryne Hall “Sacrashe Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon ($75)

If you ever make it to Napa, you must visit this winery. Kathryne Hall—or Hall, as their more popular second label is known by—is the friendliest tasting room in Napa. You’ll feel completely comfortable as the salespeople rape your wallet of hundreds of dollars. This Cabernet, however, is like a kick in the ’nads with its amazingly enormous fruits. And don’t look for the structure to soothe the sting, because it’ll just kick you in the ’nads again. You are in for a treat!

2004 Rubicon Estate Blancaneaux White Wine ($35)

This is a gorgeous white wine blended from some classic Rhone varietals. You probably haven’t tasted a white wine like this—rich, round and fruity, while still structured. Depth isn’t something usually found in many white wines, but you’ll find it here. If you like red wines, you’ll appreciate the complexity. If you like white wines, you’ll appreciate its delicious tropical fruits. While not necessarily collectible or cellar-worthy, it is a unique wine worth trying.

2003 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, La Crau ($65)

When I think of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, I always think of Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe—it was my very first exposure to this French appellation. It’s filled with so much pepper and spice, you’d think it was a fine Latin lover, and filled with so much glorious saddle leather, you’d think it was a leatherman in buttless chaps. Doesn’t that wine sound great? Yes indeed, it is a magnificent example of a Rhone wine that’s very collectible and worth every penny.

2002 Viader Cabernet Blend ($80)

Yes, Viader. Like Darth and just as cool. When I was in Napa, everyone who was anyone was talking about Viader. It’s ultra-hip. This Cab is everything you want in a Cab—big fruit with complexity. Unfortunately, it’s also a bit jammy and forgettable. No, the wine isn’t all that great, but I have the insatiable desire to collect wine that will make me cool. My therapist says I’m trying to compensate for something, but for what I’m not sure. Think of this as a really high-quality wine that you don’t have to wait to age and will make your stuffy cellar totally awesome.

2002 BV Tapestry ($30)

I call this wine my everyday drinkable. No, I don’t drink every day ... anymore. A friend described this as the most concentrated wine he’d ever had, immediately after which I noticed his teeth were stained purple. Filled with a huge array of out-of-control fruits, your mouth will also be stained satisfied. Don’t freak out because this marvelous Bordeaux blend is unfiltered and will leave some soil in the bottom of your glass—the sediment should be hidden by its gorgeous, inky purple color until the last drink. This is the perfect wine to drink while you’re waiting for your “good” wine to age to perfection.