2009 pureCru Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
 
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Mitch Cosentino The Mystery Clone

At first glance, Mitch Cosentino's 2009 pureCru Cabernet Sauvignon seems perfectly in keeping with many other rich, forward wines harvested 10 days before the rain began to fall on October 12. The color is deep purple, edging towards black. The classic minty, black currant aromas of the vintage are on full display. But it's on the tail end of the nose — and then again on the back palate — that one of the more unusual Cabernets of the voluptuous 2009 vintage speaks both of mystery, and a bit of Tuscan rusticity.

Cosentino, of course, is one of Napa's Cabernet pioneers. Much like Tom Eddy, Mitch has always had an eye for unusual vineyards, and even more so, mystery clones. In the 1990's, Mitch learned of a grape grower who returned to Napa Valley from Italy with a suitcase full of budwood. Purportedly drawn from a planting in Bolgheri — where Cabernet-based Bordeaux blends, Sassicaia and Ornellaia reign supreme — the grower proceeded to cultivate vines off the budwood on the eastern side of Howell Mountain. In 2001, Cosentino purchased some of the grower's fruit and crafted a stunning micro-cuvée, which would make its debut at the Napa Valley Vintners Association auction in 2002. Only two Stags Leap Cabernets outpointed Cosentino's surprising entry, the most famous of which was Schafer's Hillside Select. Ten cases of Cosentino's "Secret Clone" Cabernet Sauvignon would fetch $56,400 — or $470/bottle!

"What first enchanted me about the 'secret clone' was the berry size: much smaller than anything I'd ever seen in Napa. The skins were thick, and there was high skin-to-juice ratio. But even more remarkable were the flavor characteristics," Cosentino told me. "When you taste Sassicaia, you're not only shocked by the concentration, but the exoticism of Bolgheri. Until I tasted that 2001, I assumed that the rustic beauty of Sassicaia came from those Tuscan soils. While that can't be discounted, I now believe it has more to do with this suitcase clone."

While the 2009 growing season much mimicked 2007 until the early October harvest date, the tannins in 2009 proved to be far softer and more supple than 2007. This would pay handsome dividends for Cosentino. After a gentle, non-interventionist vinification, Mitch transferred the Cabernet to small French barrels where the wine would stay for 34 months! The extra year in barrel allowed the small-berry, Tuscan tannins to soften, as the wine added girth and density. Finally bottled early in 2013, Mitch held the wine the back for another six months before release. It would be one of the more powerfully sumptuous Cabernets of Cosentino's 30-year career.

The 2009 pureCru Cabernet Sauvignon is purple/black to the rim, featuring flashy aromas of blackberry, mint, violets, and sweet Tuscan herbs. The attack is broad, plush, and fat, packed with blackberry preserves, laced with sweet crème de cassis, buttressed by the dusty tannin backbone that speaks so eloquently of Bolgheri.



Tasting Notes

2009 pureCru Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
"(Made from the Tuscan Cabernet "mystery clone." Aged 34 months in small French barrels, 33% of which were new.) Purple/black to the rim, featuring flashy aromas of blackberry, mint, violets, and sweet Tuscan herbs. The attack is broad, plush, and fat, packed with blackberry preserves, laced with sweet crème de cassis, buttressed by the dusty tannin backbone that speaks so eloquently of Bolgheri. Drinking beautifully right out of the gate, but don't be fooled by the early accessibility. Given the clonal makeup, this one will age incrementally, reaching its peak shortly after 2020."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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