Some days just aren’t your day. In my buddy’s case, this week wasn’t his week. Without going into detail, everything that could go wrong apparently had, so when I texted him last night with “Let’s open a ridiculous bottle of wine,” his response was understandably almost immediate and enthusiastically affirmative: “Get out your decanter.”
He showed up shortly thereafter and produced a bottle of Napa Cab that made my heart flutter a little bit. He vented for a few moments as I cut the foil, then pulled the cork. Out of habit, I waved the cork briefly under my nostrils, and my fluttering heart sank into a slump. Hoping I was wrong, I twisted it from my waiter’s key and handed it to my friend. Cautiously, I inquired: “That smell okay to you?” He sniffed it, then the bottle, and his fallen facial expression indicated that he had come to the same conclusion. Our glorious bottle of small-lot Cabernet was infected with the unmistakable taint of trichloroanisole; in other words, it was corked. This was, of course, consistent with my buddy’s train wreck of a week. I had to do something to salvage the evening, and I had a good idea of what might do the trick.
Steve Noble Ledson crafts some of the most extraordinary wines I’ve ever had. Sonja and I visited Ledson’s beautiful Sonoma winery on our honeymoon in 2013, and have returned a few times since then out of our love for the wonderful ambiance and, of course, the terrific wines. On our last trip, they had a few library wines available at very reasonable prices, and I snatched up this bottle of 2004 Lake County Petit Verdot. There was no way to try it in advance, but I have had enough of Steve’s wine to know that the odds of it being excellent were quite high, making it worth the relatively low risk of buying wine without having tasted it first. Last night I learned that in this instance, I was to be well-rewarded.
The 2004 Ledson Lake County Petit Verdot is, simply put, an impressive wine. We decanted it for around half and hour before we began drinking, and by the time we’d finished it had decanted a good ninety minutes, evolving all the while. A touch hot on the nose, it exhibited notes of cedar, red fruit, and mild spices. An exceedingly well-structured wine, on the palate it offered notes of dark fruit, stewed fruits, forest floor, and hints of mild leather, leading into an extremely long, dry finish. Deep, dark, and fuller than full in body, what impressed me most was how well the beautiful fruit profile of blackberry, blueberry, currant, and plum had held up for twelve years in the bottle. If I had been served the wine and told that it was five years old, I’d never have questioned it. This wine has aged better than most of the older Bordeaux wines I have had, a testament to the talent of Steve Noble Ledson as an artisan winemaker.
Some days aren’t your day, and some weeks aren’t your week, but one thing I’ve learned is that an excellent bottle of wine can often help turn things around. We sat on the patio and talked for several hours last night, with this extraordinary bottle of wine to keep us company. What better therapy could one ask for? This therapist gets 94 points on my scale and, if you can find it, is very highly recommended.