“No. 417 of 975 Bottles Produced,” the back label of the bottle proudly displays, and I am at once overwhelmed by the tremendous significance inherent in such a simple statement. To make less than a thousand bottles of a single wine is a far superior act to making a thousand massive vats of it. The time, the attention to detail, the artistry, and not least the fact that a small producer like that has no marketing department, no secretary, no sales reps, no assistant winemakers — all of it makes boutique wine production a truly special thing. It is fundamental, and it is pure. It’s an artist, crafting what they hope may be a masterpiece. It is why I fell in love with wine.
I’ve visited Tom Rees, a native of Omaha and a transplant to the town of Napa, at his winery on the corners of Pine and Brown, a few summers ago. There, in his garage-converted-to-winery, he produces a modest eight barrels of wine at a time, working a job on the side to help pay bills, and releasing each year some of the very best wines I have ever had. If you’d like a little closer look into Tom’s operation, here’s my American Winery Guide review:
In my last post, I wrote about what we, as consumers, might do to support the establishments we love in California’s wine country. Napa and Sonoma are on fire still today, but even after the fires are out, in order for small producers to stay alive, it will take an effort from the rest of us. They will have to rebuild. They will have to replant. They will have to reestablish themselves and resist the urge to sell when Bronco, Constellation and the rest of the evil empire start buying up all the fruit and offer to purchase their label, another head to mount upon their walls, another way to pad the bottom line. Like so many others, Tom at Pine & Brown could use our support now, and this wine is something you’ll be wanting to try anyway.
A beautiful, luscious, full-bodied blend of 59% Cab Sauv, 36% Merlot, and 5% Cab Franc sourced from three different appellations in the Napa Valley, this blend was treated like To Kalon fruit, and spent 22 months on oak, most of it new, before finding its way into the bottle. Left Bank Bordeaux in style, yet Napa by nature, it comes at you in slow, satisfying waves, with incredible black and purple fruits laced in delicate leather, subtle hints of menthol, and a touch of cocoa for good measure. Ultra-fine tannins lend formidable structure, while the right level of acidity balances it all out. It is drinking superbly right now, but will age for decades if you have the desire to cellar it. This wine is, in short, a work-of-freaking-art.
I don’t normally go quite this far when I review wine, but I think by now you can tell how serious I am about saving those small, individual establishments that make Napa and Sonoma such a special place, so on that note: buy this wine. When we buy wine today, we are casting our votes, we are deciding who survives these fires. I encourage you to vote for Tom and others like him. I promise you won’t regret it. Here’s a link to his online store: https://www.pineandbrown.com/purchase/