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INGLENOOK Rubicon 2012

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95 Points

Philippe Bascuales worked for two decades with Paul Pontallier at Château Margaux before coming to Inglenook in 2011 (since Pontallier passed away this past spring, Bascuales has returned to Château Margaux, and is now directing both the Bordeaux property and this Rutherford estate). The pace at which he has transformed the wines is nothing less than astonishing, as if the force of this great Napa Valley site had been waiting to be unleashed. It’s not that the wines were troubled in recent vintages; more that they followed the contemporary Napa Valley story of quality being the pinnacle achievement. The 2008, for example, was “sweet, firm and juicy,” with tannins that cushioned the fruit, earning 93 points when I tasted it for the magazine. Bascaules has begun to bring back the voice of the property, a collection of vineyards in the western benchlands of Rutherford, reassembled by Francis Ford Coppola in the pattern of Gustave Niebaum’s original estate. This is the kind of land that made Napa Valley famous. And this is the kind of wine I want to drink. It has the freshness of ripe cabernet sauvignon, with none of the darker, dimpled tones of hyperripe fruit, presenting a delicate red berry scent and the gracious refinement of Rutherford tannins. Some of our tasters reacted to the new oak on the wine, the touch of creaminess French oak brings to the texture, even as they admitted that it was handled with restraint and that the wine showed some tension. The oak is not an issue for me, as the youthful fruit sings through any vessel used to age it, with the message of great vintages to come.

April 2017

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