The aromas of tar, spice, black currant, blueberry and cedar follow through to a full body with ultra-polished tannins and pointed flavors. Exceptional balance and finesse. Better in 2019 but already gorgeous.
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Rubicon, which used to be a proprietary blend and had a somewhat rustic, Italian personality, has now been put under the Inglenook Vineyard designation. Where the Cabernet Sauvignon was a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot, the Rubicon has abandoned any Italian varietals in favor of a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Merlot. I think it’s safe to say this is potentially the best Rubicon made to date. It’s not to denigrate other vintages, but there is a finesse and elegance combined with great richness and an avoidance of any rusticity that plagued some of the other vintages -- which is to be admired. At three times the price, it’s not three times the wine of the Cask Cabernet Sauvignon. It possesses a dense purple color, beautiful, sweet crème de cassis notes with a floral underpinning. I don’t see any of the Rutherford dust, per se, but there is an undertone of earthiness. The wine is full-bodied, rich, potentially complex and certainly capable of lasting 20 to 30 or more years. This is a great young Rubicon that will have its peak in 5-7 years and last 25-30. (RP)
Philippe Bascuales worked for two decades with Paul Pontallier at Château Margaux before coming to Inglenook in 2011 (since Pontallier passed away this past spring, Bascuales has returned to Château Margaux, and is now directing both the Bordeaux property and this Rutherford estate). The pace at which he has transformed the wines is nothing less than astonishing, as if the force of this great Napa Valley site had been waiting to be unleashed. It’s not that the wines were troubled in recent vintages; more that they followed the contemporary Napa Valley story of quality being the pinnacle achievement. The 2008, for example, was 'sweet, firm and juicy,' with tannins that cushioned the fruit, earning 93 points when I tasted it for the magazine. Bascaules has begun to bring back the voice of the property, a collection of vineyards in the western benchlands of Rutherford, reassembled by Francis Ford Coppola in the pattern of Gustave Niebaum’s original estate. This is the kind of land that made Napa Valley famous. And this is the kind of wine I want to drink. It has the freshness of ripe cabernet sauvignon, with none of the darker, dimpled tones of hyperripe fruit, presenting a delicate red berry scent and the gracious refinement of Rutherford tannins. Some of our tasters reacted to the new oak on the wine, the touch of creaminess French oak brings to the texture, even as they admitted that it was handled with restraint and that the wine showed some tension. The oak is not an issue
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Rubicon is deeper, inkier and sweeter than the Cask, with quite a bit more new French oak influence. Espresso, mocha, licorice, cloves and new leather are fused together in an unctuous, resonant Cabernet loaded with mid-palate sweetness and intensity. Radiant and generous, the 2012 will provide readers with a long window of pure drinking pleasure once the tannins soften a bit. Today, the 2012 comes across as a bit less expressive than on other occasions. (AG)
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