If there’s ever a best time to spend big bucks on serious wine, the winter holidays are it: You’ve made it through another year and deserve a reward, ’tis the season for celebrations, there must be someone on your gift list who would be knocked out by an upper-register bottle, and, as if to top it all off, the weather has finally cooled off enough that big reds suit the mood.
Jeff Jewett at First Street Wine Company in Livermore tries to track down hard-to-find, high-end Cabernet Sauvignon for his customers and himself. He enjoys what he calls “the Ferrari factor”: the thrill of spending big for the best. Fortunately, in a competitive wine market, dropping a bundle on a wine will also get you something pretty special. This being California, the wines Jewett suggests could be drunk now, but all would benefit from three to five years in the cellar.
No steals, no deals, just really good 2003 Ramey Jericho Canyon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; about $96 Big, classic Napa Valley wine; plenty of oak balanced by plenty of fruit; ample tannin yet enticingly smooth. Nothing overbearing. Drink this by itself and be happy—very happy. 2003 Rudd Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon; about $92 More of a grippy, tannic edge here, on top of great depth of fruit and cedary oak. The wine, and therefore the drinkers, will be happier after it rests a couple of years in the bottle. When this huge red is ready, have some big meat handy. 2002 Rubicon Estate Rutherford Rubicon; about $125 The flagship wine of film director Francis Ford Coppola’s Napa venture is the result of combining fruit from historic vineyards and first-rate winemaking. A touch of Rutherford dust in a Bordeaux-style blend. Lights, camera … aaaaahhh.