2007 Morlet Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Magie Rouge Napa Valley
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RP 94 points
(Read the full review below)
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Morlet Family Vineyards A 94pt Red Magic Gift from Luc Morlet

Call this one a gift of red magic.

In 2008, while up at Vineyard 7 & 8, we first met Luc Morlet. Morlet, of course, was fresh off a long winemaking stint at Peter Michael and had just turned over the cellar keys to his brother, Nicolas, so as to hang up his own shingle. One look at what Luc and Jodie Morlet have accomplished in four short years makes our WineAccess adventure look like a walk in the park.

Luc was born in Avenay-Val-d'Or, on the red grape hillsides of Champagne. Both Champagne's barrel-fermented reds and whites are terrifically acidic, creating challenges for inexperienced tasters. But while still in his early teens, working at his father's side in the cellar, Luc Morlet was a prodigy, purportedly blending with a perfumer's precision.

In 1996, having completed his enology thesis at l'Universite de Reims, and after a two-year stint as winemaker at the Margaux Classified Growth, Chateau Dauzac, while still in his 20s, Morlet would move to Napa Valley, marrying his wife, Jodie Morlet, while succeeding John Kongsgaard at Newton Vineyards. Five years later, Morlet was recruited by Sir Peter Michael, and would be largely responsible for launching Sir Peter's winery into the 100-point stratosphere.

We'd been tracking Luc's work for years at Peter Michael, particularly his Cabernet-based "Les Pavots." When word leaked out that Luc and Jodie were setting up shop, Robert Parker was quick to come calling. We weren't far behind.

The Morlets' first releases would be in 2006. Despite Luc's resume and the early scores and Parker press, Luc was forthcoming as we tasted in the cellar space he rented at Chateau Boswell. Morlet would have no problem selling his small production, he told us. But as to alerting hundreds of thousands of wine enthusiasts to the rich, sleek, marvelously pure Cabernets, or the olfactory precision of his whites -- Luc needed a little help. We went all in.

During Premiere Napa week, the valley was packed. Every hotel room was booked. The restaurants were mobbed. Even our typically subdued coffee roaster in St. Helena felt like Grand Central Station. When we drove over to the Morlets' new digs, smack dab on Highway 29, we knew we wouldn't have much time. The black Suburbans were parked in front of the sweetest little tasting room in the Valley. Inside, their tables were set. Riedel all around. But before Luc and Jodie tended to two groups that we later heard dropped nearly 75k on that Saturday afternoon, the most entrepreneurial couple in the valley led us into Luc's office. Once there, Avenay's olfactory prodigy gave WineAccess "un cadeau."

The 2007 vintage, of course, will go down as one of the greatest in Napa Valley Cabernet history. The summer was marvelously mild and dry. As Luc told us, "The wines really made themselves." Robert Parker went gaga, as did Wine Spectator. Morlet would make five tiny-lot Cabernet Sauvignons, all earning 93-98 point scores. Four are long gone. As for the last 40 cases of the 2007 Morlet Cabernet that never saw a retail shelf -- all have been earmarked for WineAccess.

Drawn off Luc's prized rocky patch in Oakville, a stone's throw from Magic Road, the 2007 Morlet "Magie Rouge" (Red Magic) is massive on the attack, featuring explosive black and crushed red fruit aromas, sweet spice (100% Darnajou, direct imported by the Morlets) and anise. Rich, voluminous and precisely defined on the attack, packed with ripe currant and blackberry, finely muscled, at once sleek, refined -- AND built for the long haul. Parker suggested not touching a bottle until 2013, with the wine hitting its peak in 2027. Based on our tasting in Luc's office, this one is just beginning to fire on all cylinders.

Tasting Notes

2007 Morlet Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Magie Rouge Napa Valley
"The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is a huge wine bursting with dark fruit, mocha, spices, tar and licorice. It shows remarkable depth, richness and intensity from start to finish. This is a dazzling wine. Dark fruit, spices, leather and licorice are some of the nuances that emerge from this huge Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2007 needs a year or two to shed some its baby fat and tannin. I don't see it offering much pleasure before then, but it is superb. It is very 2007. The 2007 is 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2027."
94 points -- Antonio Galloni, Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate (December 2011)

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