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Peter Paul is riding high off an impressive auction performance that got him mentioned in the same breath as Stag’s Leap, Pride Mountain, Sequoia Grove and even BV’s special bottling from Rutherford. Now he brings out the big guns, a Rudd-grown Mount Veeder bottling that outdoes even the auction wines in terms of pure decadence. Think of the last macho Cabernet you had – and add twenty pounds. The intensity is paired with a clear and beautiful range of fruits that are underpinned with serious tannic structure primed for aging. This is real deal Cabernet – straight-on and powerful notes of cassis, white flowers, mountain minerality - and no chaser. A deliciously full-featured red showcasing the best attributes of the 2012 vintage.
About the wine
After the Napa auction fervor over the “Earthquake” barrel known as “Mary”, the wine world has turned its attention to the tiny production at Peter Paul. Frustratingly small lots are the norm here – even a six-barrel production is big by their standards! That’s barely enough to cover wine country! So buyers are moving quick as Paul releases wines and next up is their big bruiser, sourced from Leslie Rudd’s Mount Veeder property. After the tough 2011 vintage, growers were on guard for 2012’s knuckleballs – which never came. The resulting fruit enjoyed micromanagement and doting care that sent quality skyrocketing. In Peter Paul’s most serious Cabernet, one can taste that attention in this beautifully concentrated and proportioned wine. It’s suffused with dark fruits that even hint at deeper flavors in reserve, available with decanting. But even after a “pop and pour” this comes out swinging with ample fruit on a big boned structure and a chewy, palate-staining finish. Great craftsmanship here.
Winemaker: Jeff Morgan
Appellation: Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley
- 95-97 pts: Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
- 96 pts: Vintage Rating (WA)
- 96 pts: Vintage Rating (WS)
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 169
Vineyard: 100% Rudd Vineyard
Cooperage: 20 months in 100% French Oak, 50% of which is new
About the winery
Peter Paul was just a teenager when he tried his first epiphany wine – a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem his father purchased for $10. Big bucks at the time, but what Peter would give to get d’Yquem for a sawbuck nowadays… Nevertheless, it set him on a course of a lifelong appreciation of wine. When Peter went off to school, his father relocated to Napa Valley and so the education continued with weekend visits to see Pop. He eventually made his way into the wine world from finance, and he started a wine club management company which helped supply the clubs from the Wall Street Journal, Williams-Sonoma and Food & Wine. He was tasting great wines and meeting vintners, but the lure of becoming a winemaker himself still was too irresistible and in 2001, he founded Peter Paul Wines. He keeps production small, focusing on Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Russian River Valley.
About the vineyard
Mount Veeder is a crucible for aspiring winemakers. Wine Spectator calls it “the smallest and most unique appellation in the Napa Valley.” The Cabernet here is extremely low-yielding, producing a double-edged sword of midnight-black berries with outlandish structure. Many winemakers fall short when confronted with such awesome fruit. Those who do succeed are destined for greatness – just look at the track record of Mt. Veeder’s Lokoya, recipient of no less than four 100pt Parker scores. The vineyard sits at 1800ft and the soil is a harsh mix of broken rocks and volcanic ash and is so rugged that everything must be done by hand. The growing season is exceptionally long, which makes the process even more arduous. What is it they say about no pain?
About the winemaker, Jeff Morgan
Jeff Morgan is an accomplished Napa Valley winemaker who also moonlights as a professional food and wine writer. He began his career as a cellar rat at a local winery in New York’s Long Island before leaping into journalism at Wine Spectator, finishing as the editor of the West Coast. He relocated to Napa in 1999 and created two intriguing projects – SoloRosa – the only American winery to specialize in Rose, as well as Covenant winery, co-founded with Leslie Rudd, America’s premier kosher wine producer. He’s written seven cookbooks, including those for Dean & Deluca, Plumpjack and Domaine Chandon and makes wine for several wineries including Peter Paul.
95-97 points, Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
"This dense Cabernet Sauvignon opens to dark fruit notes of baked black plum, dusty blackberry, and dried currant with complimentary notes of dark chocolate, fresh ground coffee, black licorice and toast. The substantial structure on the palate would allow this statuesque Cabernet Sauvignon to age beautifully for many years to come, though not necessary for it to be enjoyed. Very well-made, with impressive concentration, depth of flavor, complexity, and substantial tannic structure one would hope for from pristine mountain fruit, it could more than handle a rich and hearty dish like braised beef cheeks or a seared cut of marbled rib eye."