2009 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
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Jeff Mathy and Karl Lehmann
'07 & '08 Member Reviews:

2008 Vellum Cab Napa Valley
Given as a gift and was well received by a worldly wine connoisseur.
-- Garry from Stanwood, WA

2007 Vellum Cab Napa Valley
Deep, luscious. Best wine, best value purchased here yet.
-- Maryann from Richmond, VA

2007 Vellum Cab Napa Valley

Delicious and complex. Really enjoy this one, nice fruit, complex wine. I hope I can save a couple for a few years.
-- Kris from Cedar Springs, MI

2007 Vellum Cab Napa Valley
Spectacular Flavor. This is a wine that you will enjoy with a steak...or just after dinner while relaxing. I wish I had purchased more than 1 case!
-- Rick from Verona, WI

2007 Vellum Cab Napa Valley
Really liked this. We can't always drink the really heavy Napa Cabernets, but it's hard not to like Napa fruitiness. The description was right on. The Vellum is dark and rich like the others, but it's just fresher. Is there more?
-- Judy from Rochester, NY

A Most Prescient Handshake

It's not as if we didn't see it coming. In the early spring of 2010, with the country still in the throes of the Great Recession, WineAccess was in the driver's seat. For over a year, and right up until that October harvest, Napa Valley was our oyster as we treated members to a steady diet of superb 2007 Cabernet Sauvignons, all offered at prices that now read like a misprint.

But even as our luck held out, we could see the writing on the wall. The Dow had rebounded, and with the mid-term elections approaching, the Democrats were already talking about an elusive recovery. More importantly, both 2008 and 2009 had been excellent, short-harvest vintages. If yields were down again in 2010, the glut would quickly become a shortage. So we hatched a plan.

Up and down the valley, particularly with a handful of excellent, young wineries, we went to town. With wholesalers still playing possum, WineAccess agreed to push out hundreds of cases of top-notch Cabernet Sauvignon -- much of it drawn from superb, rocky patches along the Stags Leap line. The demand curve was on our side, so we took no prisoners, first negotiating razor-sharp prices, then making multi-year agreements, each sealed with a handshake. Or so we thought.

When the market suddenly rebounded and prices began to spike (now surpassing pre-recession levels), we returned to our 'partners.' Many seemed suddenly afflicted with selective amnesia. Others remembered, but were apologetic. In the end, just a few remained true to their word -- none more remarkably than Jeff Mathy and Karl Lehmann at Vellum.

The 2007 and 2008 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignons, drawn off a two-acre rockpile in piping hot Coombsville, just south of Stags Leap, took WineAccess by storm. Lehmann has a brilliant hand with the small berry fruit off of Jerry Linstad's vineyard, crafting back-to-back black fruit powerhouses, featuring rich, bombastic, blackberry attacks, all framed by chiseled, rugged soil backbone. The two wines would earn a whopping 70 5-star ratings, 199 4-star accolades and a bevy of rave reviews. Still, if you listen to Mathy, neither the voluptuous 2007, nor the harder 2008, would hold a candle to the lavish, black fruit vibrancy of this stellar 2009.

As Robert Parker's exhaustive report on the superb 2009 vintage would explain, we can divide the '09 Napa Cabernets into two camps -- those that were harvested before the rain of the second week of October, and those that were obliged to wait until after. "The 2009 growing season in Coombsville really mimicked 2007, with one exception. The heat in 2007 seemed to thicken skins. When crop levels were too high, the seeds didn't reach full maturity, and the tannins were hard. The summer of 2009 was milder and more regular, though similarly dry. We had everything in by October 7th. It would be Karl's finest Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon to date."

Deep purple in color, with luscious aromas of boysenberry and blueberry preserves, all bracketed by new wood cedar. The attack is rich, yet marvelously lively -- true to its rocky soil roots -- infused with juicy black fruit, laced with crème-de-cassis, buttressed by the sleek, dusty tannins that so distinguish the great Cabernets of Stags Leap and Coombsville.

Will this be the #1 Napa Valley Cabernet bargain of the year? It's too early to say, but one thing's for sure. Following the tiniest harvest of all in 2011, it's hard to imagine a 2009 Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon of this pedigree being offered at anywhere near this morning's price. All courtesy of a most prescient handshake.

Tasting Notes

2009 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
"Brilliant deep purple in color. Luscious aromas of boysenberry and blueberry, light framed with new wood cedar. Marvelously rich and opulent on the attack -- still harboring the vibrancy that so distinguishes the top Cabernets of Coombsville -- packed with crushed black fruit, laced with crème-de-cassis, all bracketed by the sleek, dusty tannins just south of the Stags Leap line. Drink now for its primary fruit hedonism, or lay down for a decade in a cool cellar."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

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