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Professional Ratings: 96 Wine & Spirits, 94 Connoisseurs' Guide, 93 Wine Enthusiast
Region: Napa Valley, California
Varietal: Bordeaux Red Blends
Other Info: Collectible Wines, Green Wines, Great Wine Gift
Item no. 94690
All Rubicon Estate vineyards are harvested by hand in the early morning. The grapes arrive at the winery in small bins and the fruit is hand-sorted before crushing. A second sorting of the must removes any remaining leaves or pieces of broken stems. The must is allowed to ‘cold soak' for three to five days prior to the onset of natural fermentation. Depending on the age of the vineyard and quality of the tannins, macerations may vary from one to three weeks. Rubicon is fermented in wooden Taransaud open-top tanks which hold the natural warmth of the fermentation longer into the maceration. This allows the new wine to stabilize color and increase the mouthfeel of the new wine. Both traditional punch-downs (early stages of fermentation) and pump-overs are used, resulting in ultra-dense, coating and supple tannins.
Rubicon is characterized by aromas of black sour cherries and violets. These flavors are confirmed on the palate with the addition of black currant, wild berries and sweet vanilla from aging in 100% new French oak barrels. There is an immediate sense of concentration on the mid palate with a luxurious and dense texture. While this wine is approachable now, it will develop further complexity with cellaring, easily fifteen to twenty-five years or more. This is one for the cellar.
This comes from the historic Inglenook estate, a sweet spot in the Rutherford bench that has been farmed organically since Gustave Niebaum planted vines here in the 1880s. Winemaker Scott McLeod is now in his 20th year at Rubicon, working with Francis Ford Coppola and his family who have been busy resurrecting the property since 1975. Rubicon is a selection of the more concentrated fruit from the estate, dark in tone with what McLeod describes as a violet character. The ’04, from a hot vintage and a relatively early harvest, is marked by the baritone depths small berries and low yields can give. The wine feels compressed, its power magnificent. In addition to whatever trademark combination of flavor and structure it has that places it clearly as Rubicon, it also has that distinctive Rutherford dust character, like pollen dusting a black cherry. One of the true greats from Napa Valley.
Intense, keenly defined curranty fruit is framed with balanced elements of sweet oak, loam and dusty earth in the very inviting aromas, and the wine's deep and decidedly concentrated, ripe- currant flavors similarly show a fine infusion of enriching oak and sweet spice. An extremely sophisticated wine and a fairly classic rendition of Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, this latest Rubicon is presently toughened by varietally appropriate tannins, and it is destined for very good things and a long period of improvement over the next decade and more.
At its best Rubicon stuns with power and richness. In lesser vintages (which are usually hotter ones) the wine, which is largely Cabernet Sauvignon, can be raisiny. While 2004 was a warm year, diligent viticulture paid off, resulting in an opulent wine with the purest expression of crushed cherries and blackberries, and oak-inspired hints of nougat and caramel. Fairly aggressive in tannins now, it should begin to open by 2008 and drink well for a decade.