Head Up To The Hills

By Will Curley

We’re going to keep this brief today, you have Memorial Day parties to plan, pools to open and children to get to summer camp.

The entirety of my restaurant and wine career has been spent avoiding California like the plague, constantly asking myself  “Why would I drink something so extracted, so oaked, so manipulated?”  Then, I joined the Guild.  These past months have been an eye-opening experience into the breadth and depth of what great California can be -- exceptional fruit, a deft hand with oak, and an understanding of how to take a perfect, and oftentimes perfectly boring, climate, and make it truly sing.

This wine has life: Upon first smell, I thought, “Great, another extracted, boring Cabernet with some marketing hype and a decent backstory.”  I was wrong.  Yes, dark, ripe plum and cassis dominate the nose, but the moment you take a sip, this wine just explodes.  Leather, smoke, blackberry jam, and an excellent integration of oak open the proceedings, followed quickly by dried flowers, fine grained tannins, and a distinct graphite minerality.  The acid on this is stellar, cleaning out your palate and never tiring.  The winemaker’s hand is evident here, as picking these grapes before utter, total ripeness allows for an incredible balance and preserves the acidity.  

This wine has terroir: Red Hills AVA is providing some of the most interesting mountain fruit around, and this vineyard sits at 2400 ft within the AVA.  The altitude provides everything you’d expect it to - a great balance of fruit and acid, while volcanic soils steer this wine to incredible secondary and tertiary flavors.  This wine has layers.

This wine has pedigree: Aaron Pott has a dream background, first as a Michel Rolland protege in Napa, then as the youngest winemaker ever at a Right Bank Grand Cru Chateau, Chateau Troplong Mondet, and eventually becoming the director of Chateau La Tour Figeac.  Coming back to California in the early 2000’s, Aaron become the winemaker at Quintessa.  All of these life experiences are evident in his winemaking - respect and understanding of California fruit & climate, coupled with an intense dedication to Old World-style wines with balance and layers.

This will be perfect with steaks off the grill all summer long, and will transition beautifully into cooler weather.  Have a great Memorial Day, and enjoy your summer!

Aerena Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Members: $23.20 ||  Non-Members: $28.99

Will Curley