Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2004 Grgich Hills Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon

What makes a wine very good?

"Seamless" is a word I read or heard about a fine wine recently, and it strikes me as a good word to describe very good wines. Wines that aren't clunky or spiky or busy with cherries and brambles and barbecue, wines that don't make you anxious to identify everything you are tasting, or think you should be tasting. Wines that are simply all they could be, and very pleasantly leave the need for language behind.

I am sipping Grgich Hills cab for the third night, and it seems to be getting better, more -- seamless. The first night there was smokiness and a tad too much acidity and even that hint of green pepper which, I have heard winemakers say, is not something they strive too eagerly for. I even read somewhere that a big dose of it can indicate underripe grapes. (But Grgich Hills is the place run by the nice man legend who made the Chateau Montelena chardonnay famed for winning that blind "Judgment of Paris" tasting in 1976. His grapes, underripe? Surely not.)

Tonight the wine seems to me relaxed, soft, not particularly berry-like or chocolaty or leathery or anything, but so very seamless and sophisticated and well, so very good. Last night, its second, it "stood up to" a platter of fettucine Alfredo and asparagus -- red wine and asparagus is a revelation, you must try it, but only in that order -- and now it just stands by itself.

Grgich Hills Cellar, Rutherford, CA. Retail, yes, about $65.

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