My wine rating scale is all about value. I use the same format as Robert Parker, but instead of beginning with a baseline of 50, wines rated on my scale begin with a baseline of 45, and earn the additional 5 points only for value. Any wine priced above $500 USD, therefore, cannot earn a score of more than 95 points from me. I have my critics, but ultimately, this allows me to fully reward an excellent wine like this one when it costs a mere $30.
I visited the Charles Krug winery with Sonja about two weeks after Peter Mondavi died. It was a somber experience, poignant and powerful, on a serene and overcast afternoon. We tried a lot of Peter’s wine that day, including many Cabs that cost two or even three times what this one does. Ultimately, however, this was the standout.
Utterly massive, this thick, rich Cab boasts notes of smoked meats and baking spice on the nose. On the palate, the texture is remarkable, chewy, with formidable long grain tannins working overtime in an almost inky body. Rich, bold, dark fruits abound, blackberry and blueberry and dark cherry among them, with more smoked meats leading into a long dry finish. All things considered, this is a statement wine, and a new favorite at my house.
This is only the second wine I’ve ever given a score this high, and I stand by it. If you’re a lover of understated Left Bank style Cab, this probably isn’t for you, but if you share my love of massive Napa Cabs, this might be the best $30 bottle out there. 95 points on my scale. Cheers, and rest in peace, Peter Mondavi.