Lunch at The Clocktower in NYC with a horizontal of 2011 Bond—do you need to ask twice? As if the shear thrill of tasting through these wines in one seated environment wasn’t exciting, the location (recently rated highly in The New York Times) was enough to make me do a double take. I suppose it’s a bold statement to pair such amazing food with a lineup of incredible wine—and huge compliments to both Bond and The Clocktower, as while the wines provided a fantastic performance, so did the cuisine hold its own in their company.
As for BOND and the selection of 2011s presented this day, I must say that this tasting has made me a believer. Having been a fan of a number of Napa Valley Cabernet in the past, I must admit that my comfort zone has always hovered around the $100-per-bottle mark. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been known to splurge. However, when it comes to what I always believed to be the difference between a wine that was priced on quality—versus marketing and hype–California has always been a hard region for me to bend my brain around.
So what’s the difference between all of these other wineries and BOND? Location… Terroir… Letting Cabernet Sauvignon speak in Napa Valley. You see, at BOND they are working on a principle of defining Napa Valley’s Grand Crus, which is something that speaks volumes to me—and my single-vineyard-loving roots.
I recall tasting at a very prestigious Valley winery some years ago, where they allowed me to sample pure Cabernet from each of their vineyard sights. I was amazed by the quality and enjoyment I found in each glass, yet completely disappointed as I knew they would ultimately be blended to create the estate’s flagship wine.
What BOND has done is to seek out and define five distinct locations, each with noticeably different terroir, and create a series of single-vineyard expressions. With their vineyard manager, Mary Maher, overseeing each sight and winemaker, and Cory Empting vinifying each of the wines in the same fashion, BOND has succeeded in bringing us an exciting collection of Napa Valley Cabernet.
As enjoyable as the wines were, I couldn’t help but want to study each of them and the intricacy within each glass. Never have I felt more compelled to buy a collection of wines versus deciding to settle on my favorite.
On to the Tasting Notes and Terroir:
2011 Bond Melbury – Finessed and feminine at first, the 2011 Melbury quickly gained momentum and berth in the glass, as it displayed ripe red fruits with layers of cinnamon spice, cedar box, and candied violet. On the palate, I found silky textures infused with red currant with hints of sweet herbs and minerals. The finish was long, showing ripe cherry offset beautifully by a pulse of vibrant acidity. (93 points) @Morrell
Like many St. Helena Cabernet, Quella impressed me with its mysterious bouquet and (dare I say) pretty and playful nature on the palate. This comes from a nine-acre site in the eastern foothills, planted in a soil of alluvial pebble and small rocks, which is believed to be an old riverbed.
2011 Bond Quella – This showed the darker mystique of Napa Valley Cabernet, with a bouquet of blueberry, black currant, sweet herbs and mineral-laden soil. It was remarkably pretty on the palate, as ripe berry and tart currant fruits seemed to coat the senses, only to be whisked away by mouthwatering acidity. Fine tannin saturated the senses throughout the finish, along with palate-staining dark fruits and exotic spice. (92 points) @Morrell
St. Eden spoke to me of Napa Cabernet to the core, whichcomes from an 11-acre vineyard on a rocky knoll north of the Oakville Crossroads. The soil composition is the result of past rockslides from the Vaca Mountains, an iron rich, fractured, volcanic rock.
2011 Bond St. Eden – More restrained on the nose but with a classic and airy persona, the 2011 St. Eden displayed wild berry, rosemary and sweet floral tones. On the palate, it was angular in texture with a balancing mix of acid and tannin, giving way to concentrated flavors of red currant, tart berries, and minerals. The finish turned to spiced blueberry with a coating of fine tannin throughout the palate. (93 points) @Morrell
Located in Oakville’s western foothills, the Vecina came off to me as the most balanced and attractive from this serious. Its savory tones and dark fruit were perfectly offset by its stunning vibrancy. The soils here are bedrock overlain with fine-grained alluvial wash.
2011 Bond Vecina – The intensity married to undeniably elegance is what sets the Vecina apart from its peers. The nose started with cedar box, spice, dark earth and dried flowers. However, it seemed to evolve in the glass, adding savory herbs, spiced orange peel and a hint of vanilla. It was dark and alluring on the palate, yet structured with acid-driven verve, displaying notes of blackberry, currant, cedar, and inner floral tones. The finish was defined by contrasts of concentrated fruit and structure, with lingering notes of spiced berries and minerality. This is a serious bottle of wine that should provide a wide drinking window. (96 points) @Morrell
If I wanted a wine for the cellar, the Pluribus would be my first choice. This hails from BOND’s northern-most vineyard, planted on Spring Mountain at an elevation of 1,000 feet in a soil of white, volcanic bedrock.
2011 Bond Pluribus – The perfumed and spicy nose on the 2011 Pluribus was enough to fool me into thinking this would be a more feminine wine, yet time in the glass provided a kaleidoscope of aromas, as ripe red and blue fruits, woodland pine, forest floor, black pepper and hints of cola made themselves known. As it traveled across the palate in a structured wave of dense fruit and young tannin, a wave of brisk acidity kept thing lively and fresh, almost light on its feet. Tart berry tones coated the senses, as hints of forest floor and inner floral tones provided an earthy backdrop to this refined, elegant, giant of a wine. It’s in need of time in the cellar but well worth the wait. (95 points) @Morrell
Article and Tasting Notes by: Eric Guido