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Listen up Cab collectors! Nothing’s tastier than a well-aged Cabernet, and Bernardus is a blue-chip producer of long-lived, plump and poised Cabernet blends that go the distance. Prospectors unearthed this untouched lot of their 2005 vintage “Parrot Ranch” bottling, which tastes like a fine Paulliac – real deal Cabernet from end to end – but the price looks like it’s missing a zero or two…A case is a must – and a few will hold on and drink well for another half decade. Ludicrous value here!
About the wine
When Ben Pon came to America, he was already in love with wine. That was certain – but he was blindsided when he laid eyes on what was to become the Marinus vineyard. This perfectly situated vineyard captured warmth and would grow the ripest, most complex grapes – and Ben had to have it. His life changed that day. Nearly three decades later, the critics have long ago confirmed the regal reputation of what Ben’s intuition promised. Marinus is a top expression of California winegrowing – and Parrot Ranch is the rarely offered “B-Side” of Marinus. This particular wine provides excellent richness and complexity at 12 years of age – with a lovely bottle bouquet and refined tannins that are only possible with time. As good as young Cabernet is – nothing beats drinking a wine at its peak! How cool is this find? Parrot Ranch is rare enough, so sourcing an aged parcel feels impossibly fortunate. Serve with a short decant and pair with well-marbled meats.
Winemaker: Dean DeKorth
Appellation: Carmel Valley
- 95 pts: Walter Moore, WSET Diploma, CSW
- 4.2/5.0: Vivino Users (51 ratings)
Grapes: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard: Marinus Vineyard
Cooperage: 100% French Oak, 50% of which is new
About the winery
Bernardus Marinus Pon first visited the Carmel Valley in the early 1980’s and absolutely fell in love with this lesser-known California paradise. He’d been a race car driver for Porsche, as well as an Olympic skeet-shooter. His thirst for new challenges brought him stateside, with the ambition of being a European who helped enrich American life. His father, Ben Sr. had imported the first Volkswagen Beetles to America, and was the primary designer of the iconic VW Bus (the Type 2). Having established a large wine negociant in the Netherlands, Ben, Jr. had visited the world’s great vineyards and saw something special in the land that would become Marinus. He meticulously planted Bordeaux varieties in a high-elevation spot and has since become the most famous producer of the emerging Carmel Valley appellation.
About the vineyard
Planted in 1990, the Marinus vineyard lies on rolling hills with an elevation of 1200 feet. Of the 36 acres, 25 acres are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, 9 acres to Merlot, 1 acre to Cabernet Franc and 1 acre to Petit Verdot.
Close vine spacing is matched to the soil potential of each block or section. The vines are vertically trellised and careful attention is given to the orientation of the different varieties based on their individual characteristic needs. Each block produces unique qualities derived from the soil and microclimate. The health and balance of the vineyard are maintained as part of the natural environment. This results in the least possible use of chemicals and artificial fertilizers.
Carmel Valley is surrounded by the ridges of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Cachagua Valley is a sun-trap, a "bowl" in a high elevation that is shielded from the coastal fog and ideal for growing Bordeaux-style grapes.
About the winemaker, Dean DeKorth
American born, DeKorth trained in Burgundy and the Loire Valley in France for a decade before he returned to the United States to make wine for Bernardus, where the 2016 harvest was his 12th. His foundation in France informs his style, which focuses on balanced wines with the right degree of complexity and mouthfeel. De Korth, a native of the Monterey Bay area, moved to France in the 1980’s where he first earned a degree in French language studies at the Université de Nantes before pursuing his Enology and Viticulture degrees at the Lycée Viti-Vinicole in Beaune and the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon. He then spent four years working for the celebrated wineries of Olivier Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet and Domaine des Comtes Lafon, before working for three years as cellarmaster for Domaine Pierre Morey in Meursault. In the 1990’s, Dean returned to the Monterey Bay area where he worked as winemaker for several of the Central Coast’s most prestigious wineries, including Morgan, David Bruce and Talbott. Then in 2005, De Korth began his collaboration with Ben Pon at Bernardus which was immediately rewarded with their 2005 Sauvignon Blanc being declared the best in America by the Wall Street Journal.
95 points, Walter Moore, WSET Diploma, CSW
"There's a richness of experience and layering of flavor in this beautifully aged Carmel Cabernet that's extremely satisfying. Without swirling, the glass fills with that plummy, black olive fruit and a cedar chest nuance that then expresses cassis, rosemary and licorice with agitation. On the palate there's beautiful balance between the dried blueberry, bold black cherry and tart red cassis fruit. Sweet oak, judiciously applied, adds fineness to the long full finish. I'm seriously digging the complexity of this Cabernet; you can't find this kind of aged wine for this value really anywhere. I think I found my next end of winter house wine!"