Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cult vineyard?

So I have been giving some thought to the whole cult wine phenomenon - just a little, not a lot. (The subject was recently raised, in the comments section of my 'Pluviophile...' post, by New Hampshire Wine-man.)
I have to say, I am more than a little sceptical when it comes to the whole cult wine thing, (I have been accused of being a doubting Thomas in the past).  But I cannot ignore the fact that some people might, and do, pay an ungodly amount of money for a wine that merely has the perception of being extra special, for one reason or another.  To me the whole cult wine faction, amongst the wine buying public, is akin to those folks who have to wear the latest designer labels.
Just last week, at a Napa Valley Vintners event, I was able to taste a Herb Lamb Vineyards, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley AVA).  The vineyard this wine is produced from, the Herb Lamb Vineyard, is perhaps better known in cult wine-circles as the vineyard from which one of the first cult wines in the Napa Valley hailed; the Colgin Cellars, 'Herb Lamb Vineyard' Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Colgin was a wine with all the hallmarks of cult status; small production, vineyard designation, high critical acclaim and a lofty price point.  But what actually made it a cult wine in the first place?  The proprietor?  The winemaker? The vineyard? The farming practices?  Hmm.
Well, the commonality here, with Colgin and the wine I tasted, is, of course, the Herb Lamb Vineyard itself.  The seven acre vineyard is located in the hills just below the Howell Mountain AVA at some 800 feet in elevation. The soil is rocky and the exposure is northeastern.  Is great terroir, a terroir that produces high quality grapes, the sole factor in determining that a resulting wine will be of cult status?  I think not. To me it is arbitrary and faddish.  There, I said it.
And how was the Herb Lamb Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon?  Smooth, sufficient fruit up front,  soft tannins, a little lacking in the acid department, a brusque finish, just okay.  But then, I'm not really a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon-type Vinogirl.  No, I happen to be in the possession of taste buds of the doubting Thomas-persuasion.


Dennis Tsiorbas said...

VG: Thoughtful good read! The key word is perception, and I'm a "doubting Thomas" too, however at an average price of $156, is this a 'Cult' Wine?
The one consideration which applies to Bordeaux wines, is "Wine Futures." There is an economic investment aspect to some wines, I have no knowledge as to its application to California wines.
Thanks for taking the time to reply!

Vinogirl said...

NHW: Is the Herb Lamb Vineyards CS a cult wine? Or does it merely hail from a famous vineyard? I'd opt for the latter. But, because they only produce about 300 cases, I'm sure there are some individuals (maybe 900 peeps with a 4 bottle allocation), that could skyrocket this particular wine into cult status.
As for futures, there are some Napa wineries that offer futures, e.g., Nickel and Nickel. And, if the winery employee who had taken up the entire foyer of the Oakville post office yesterday, and was frantically hand cancelling a mailing (which I assumed was a release offering, that I would guesstimate at about 4000 - 5000 large envelopes), I would strongly presume that Bond Estates do too.