Thursday, July 13, 2017

Inaugural Releases From Addendum Wines

From the good people at Fess Parker Winery, one of the pioneers of Santa Barbara county winemaking, comes a new endeavor - this time a little further up the coast.  OK, a lot further up the coast.  Addendum is a brand new project with aspirations to leverage Fess Parker's bedrock of experience as a springboard into the domain of Bordeaux varieties.  Cabernet, more specifically.  And where else do you go if you want to make high-end cabernet in California?  Yes, Napa.


Does the world really need more $100-ish Napa cabernets? And what are they thinking wading into such a saturated market?  The first question can be debated until the cows come home.  But the second might not seem as foolhardy as at first glance.  They already have a facility in Los Olivos, a seasoned winemaker (Blair Fox, who has been at the helm since 2005), and plenty of experience making and marketing wines.  So, refrigerated trucks just bring the contract-grown grapes from pedigreed vineyards down and, voila.  Okay, perhaps that's a gross oversimplification, but this project stands in stark contrast to the well worn path of rich guy builds a monument to his ego winery in Napa only to find his $200 cab sucks.

Still, when a sample pack of three cabernets and a cab-syrah blend arrived, I was curious indeed. 

Overall impressions?  Let's get the obvious out of the way: these wines are massive by every measure.  Where some Napa winemakers have recently begun (attempting) to make more restrained cabernets reminiscent of decades past, there is no moderation here.  Phrases that comes to mind include full tilt, luxurious, balsy, velvet hammer...the volume is turned all the way up on these bad boys.  Just look at some of these numbers:
  • 14.9% ABV across the board
  • 100% French oak use
  • $80-95/bottle
  • 722 case production (4 wines combined)
  • 2 lbs empty bottle weight (3.5lbs full)
What else? These wines will stir a carnal corner of your soul.

All that said, another observation is how surprisingly accessible all these wines are right out of the gate, particularly given their heft.  Most wines of this caliber, substance, and youth require several hours (or days) decanted before they're approachable.  Not so with this lot.  What's more is that when tasted on day two these wines haven't lost an ounce of their bombast, though have loosened enough for their sweeter fruit flavors to take center stage.  All wines are appealing for the same reasons, but if forced to choose favorites, the Rutherford bottling would win for its elegance and masterful presentation, while the cab/syrah blend takes first prize for managing to deliver so much with such effortless ease.

These wines were made available as press previews and, while not yet available to the public, they should be starting at some point in September 2017.  And it's never too early to start Christmas shopping for you favorite wino (hint hint).


2014 Addendum Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $90
Deep vampire red with hints of sepia in the edges. The clean, powerful nose gives way to a palate that is anything but subtle. Big, and unapologetic, it attacks with a kaleidoscope of flavors: deeply extracted cabernet fruit, sweet toasted oak, and high tones of crushed herbs. The texture is luxurious with fine tannins persisting through the long finish. Very much in line with the classic Napa Valley cabernet profile. Tastes expensive.
 
2014 Addendum 'Stagecoach Vineyard' Cabernet Sauvignon (Atlas Peak) $95
Everything the Napa Valley Cabernet is times two. Darker, deeper, more concentrated. The nose suggests some green vegetal character, but the palate is wall-to-wall black and red nectar. This is a generous wine delivered in a crushed velvet package. If it were music coming from a stereo, the equalizer settings would all be maxed out, but it oozes a come-hitherness that will win over the most skeptical of Europhiles. So intense, on day two my wife asked it was a dessert wine. 

2014 Addendum 'Skellenger Lane' Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford) $95
Slam dunk Rutherford.  It's all here: rich black fruit, stout oak framing, fine Rutherford dust, and gorgeous acidity all in abundance, yet in balance. This wine either borrows from or lends all that is great in the other wines in this line up.  Full throttle.  Among the best wines I've had out of this appellation.  Sweet Jesus, this is good!

2014 Addendum 'Stagecoach Vineyard' Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah (Atlas Peak) $80
Oh, lordy.  A cashmere sweater in a glass.  Sharing its siblings' lineage, this blend stands out for its relaxed, but confident posture.  Luxuriously rich and textured, the stuffing is packed into the solid framing loosely, making the package at once casual and richly appointed.  Taunting vanilla aromas float above the oak and well proportioned acid detail, while cedar and spice coddle the soul. It's a close call, but this wine wins for its raw sex appeal.


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