So I'm sure a little context here is in order so you don't think that I was actually struck twice by lightning. I'm sure that's not something that I would like anyway.
So I need to take you back a ways. Back to my days at the wine shop and a few months into my position as the high-end wine buyer there. I have vivid memories of the events leading up to this one wine I purchased, and you'll see why.
So here I am at my favorite Saturday breakfast cafe having my usual breakfast and on this particular Saturday, I happened to have a new issue of Wine Spectator magazine with me. As I usually do, I started reading through and looking for possible wines for the shop. Towards the front, they have a one-page section dedicated to different wines they highlight for one reason or another. One or two might even have their review along with a picture of the wine. That was the case in this instance. Saw this Cabernet from Sonoma that they rated at 93 Points (not too bad). The write up sounded good as well. So then I follow my usual tracks and start to see how other reviewers may have rated the wine. Low and behold, Wine Advocate rates the wine at 94+! Similar review and what looks like a wine selling around $45. This really sparked my interest.
So on Monday, I email the rep who distributes the wine and ask him if he has it and can I get some. Affirmative and it'll be at the shop on Thursday. I usually work Thursday so I was there when the wine arrived. Couldn't wait to see how I did, so I bring a bottle home to try that night. With the first sip, I was in love, again!! (The again has more to do with my love life than wine, so let's let it cease there).
From that moment on, until I could no longer get any more of the wine, I sold the (insert your favorite expletive) out of it. The wine??
Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 55% Slope 2009
So you know the story, this is a wine that is made from grapes that happen to be on the West side of the Mayacamas Mountain range. That means it's Sonoma. On the East side rests Napa. That difference means a savings of a good 50% over Napa Cabs! The 55% means the grapes are literally grown on the mountain slopes that have a 55% slope to them (this means the vines struggle for their nutrients - a good thing). They are at an average altitude of 1500 feet, meaning they are mountain fruit (another good thing). They produce about 3,000 cases per year of this wine and a much smaller amount of what they call their Impassable Mountain Reserve. 2013 was rated 100 Points by Wine Advocate. Small production, you guessed it, another good thing.
To add one last item, and to toot my own horn at this point, as I mentioned, I told everyone that pretty much came into the wine shop looking for a Cabernet about this wine, AND IT SHOWED! Everyone loved the wine and repeat buyers were rampant. When all was sold, I happened to ask my rep if he knew how well I faired in sales. I was told I sold more of this wine that ANYONE else in Illinois! One important note, I can't take all the credit for all the sales. The others working at the shop jumped on the bandwagon and help sell the wine.
So you're saying "Don, what does this have anything to do with anything?"
I know I repeat myself, but I really like to say this; "Let me tell you."
Just recently, I received an email for the 2013 vintage of this same wine. It touted the Robert Parker Jr. review which I feel compelled to add to this blog:
Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 55% Slope 2013
"The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon 55% Slope comes from the Sonoma side of the Mayacamas Mountains. It is 100 % Cabernet Sauvignon from a vineyard planted at 1,700 feet. This is a remarkable wine and reminiscent of the great classics from the golden era of the Mayacamas on the Napa side (such as the 1968, 1970, 1973 and 1974) come to mind when tasting this beauty. It is simply loaded. Dense purple in color, the wine has notes of licorice, crème de cassis, Asian plum sauce, cedar wood and earth. Full-bodied, opulent and irresistible already, it is capable (because of the impeccable balance and purity) of aging 20-25 or more years. This is a modern-day classic that could compete with very finest Cabernet-based wines in the world." - Robert M. Parker Jr. - 97 Points
HOW COULD YOU NOT LIKE THIS WINE?
So I buy some and, like the 2009, I plan to open and try this wine the same night I bring it home. Back home I pop it open and plan to decant a couple hours as I know that 2013 was a very extracted vintage and the wine will probably need some time to open up. Now if you really think I waited 2 hours to try, you don't know me very well. Upon opening, it was tight and needed some time, but I could still reminisce about how it compares to the 2009 vintage. An hour or two later, IT WAS MAGNIFICENT. Similar to a tee to 2009. Like my dating habits, I fell in love once again. There is little more I can add that the Parker review didn't already say. Well, one word - "WOW!"
Two tidbits I need to mention before I put this blog post to bed. First is the review from Wine Spectator. They reviewed this wine and scored it at 89 Points. Same reviewer as 2009. I can't account for the difference, as the wines are so similar, maybe reviewed too soon or some other variant. Lastly, the price has also changed. While it's been four vintages since 2009, the increase is rather a little extreme in my mind. I got it for $90 a bottle. That puts it in line with their Napa brothers and sisters. Still an awesome wine and worth it, but not as spectacular as it was at $45. Availability may be a little tough as well with so little produced, but if you can find it and you like great Cabs, BUY IT!
So there you have it. Lightning DOES strike twice!