What’s become one of the highlights of my year is the tasting of new releases from BOND estate. This year it was the 2012 vintage that was under the microscope. To just say that I’m impressed would be a serious understatement. Last year the 2011 vintage really wow’d me, which is a testament to what Bond has created through their selection of vineyard sites. These wines transcend vintage, yet when you combine this level of quality winemaking, the prestigious terroir that BOND has chosen, and a good vintage like 2012, you end up with something purely magical.
Location… Terroir… Letting Cabernet Sauvignon speak in Napa Valley.
Over the last 20-years BOND estate has been working to define Napa Valley’s Grand Crus, which is something that speaks volumes to me—and my single-vineyard-loving roots.
In fact, 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 sites. 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. Of course, for a very long time, this is what Napa Valley was all about. However, today we see the importance of place finding traction in California, and BOND is at the head of the pack.
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, Cory Empting vinifying each of the wines in the same fashion, BOND has succeeded in bringing us an exciting collection of Napa Valley Cabernet.
Imagine this as you sip from a glass of Melbury, with it’s vibrant, plush fruit, supple textures and elegance, a result of the ancient sedimentary soils and compressed clay that these vines grow in. Now move on to Quella, from the eastern hills overlooking the valley. A steep southwest facing slope, atop an ancient riverbed, covered by a layer of volcanic ash. It’s a graceful and vibrant wine with more blue fruits and a refined finish. With St. Eden we move further south to a rocky knoll, just north of Oakville in soils composed of iron-rich volcanic rock. In my opinion, St Eden is the most all around pleasing wine in the lineup, a classic Napa Valley Cabernet. Moving on to Vecina, we take a turn to structure, intensity and savory tones, as this terraced volcanic slope is mixed with exposed bedrock and alluvial sediments. It shows the darker side of Napa with its blackberry fruits, also layered with a melange of exotic aromas and flavors. Vecina is a serious wine, built for the cellar. Lastly there’s Pluribus, their highest elevation site, located on Spring mountain in soils made up of decomposed volcanic rock. Pluribus is dark and intense, again a candidate for the cellar, and a wine that will please lovers of the old-world and the new.
As you can see, BOND has something for every palate. Yet each time I think I’ve picked my favorite, a different vineyard expression impresses and makes me rethink the decision. I can’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 one.
On to the tasting notes:
2012 Bond Melbury – This displayed a vibrant and alluring bouquet of bright red fruits along with blueberry, sweet spice, dusty soil and dried floral tones. It showed intense and concentrated red fruit on the palate, yet it’s velvety and dense textures supported it all effortlessly, as tart cherry and spice seemed to saturate the senses. The finish was long on lingering fruit yet not tiring at all. The ‘12 Melbury was a real treat and so easy to like. (94 points) Find it at Morrell.
2012 Bond Quella – The nose was closed at first, yet time in the glass revealed dark red fruits, pretty violet tones, baking spice and a hint of orange peel. It was graceful and silky on the palate, with a mix of spiced red and blue fruits, which seemed to coat the senses and slowly taper off to reveal savory minerality and a lasting impression of blueberry on the back palate. The ‘12 Quella is an understated wine and comes across with beautiful refinement and elegance. (93 points) Find it at Morrell.
2012 Bond St. Eden – The nose was gorgeous, as it balanced fruit and earth, displaying floral undergrowth, animal musk and dark earth up front, followed by crushed cherry and sweet herbs. On the palate, I found silky textures giving way to wild berry fruits, baking spice, and a coating of fine, sweet tannin. It finished long on sweet spice and a mix of red and blue fruits. (94 points) Find it at Morrell.
2012 Bond Vecina – The nose on the ‘12 Vecina was deep and layered, and it required a bit of coaxing before it sprang to life. Here I found intense dark red and black fruit, balanced by dusty earth, wild floral perfumes and stunning minerality. On the palate, I found silky textures delivering formidable weight and tannic clout, as a wave of massive dark fruit swept across the senses, leaving notes of cocoa, dried herbs, and confectionary spice in it’s wake. The finish was long with notes of tobacco, dark chocolate and sweet herbs. I simply didn’t want this glass to ever empty. The ‘12 Vecina is simply stunning! (98 points)
2012 Bond Pluribus – The nose was dark and refined, showing crushed stone, savory herbs, tobacco and tart cherry. On the palate, I found silky textures giving way to youthfully restrained dark fruit laced with a minerals and tannin. Structured and somewhat monolithic today but dence and remarkably balanced, it finished on a core of haunting dark fruits and inner floral tones. It will be many years before we can really see where the ‘12 Pluribus is going, but once it gets there–watch out! (96 points) Find it at Morrell.
And as a great reference we tasted a number of back vintages.
1999 Bond Vecina – The nose was stunningly fresh yet also perfectly mature, displaying crushed strawberry, dried leaves, moist soil tones and hints of spice On the palate, it was softly textured and still vibrant, as spicy red fruits gave way to hints of cocoa and minerals. It finished on sweet herbs, dried cherry and plum, with inner floral tones lingering long. This is perfectly mature and a real treat. (95 points)
2002 Bond Melbury – Absolutely stunning and unexpected for me, as I have often loved Melbury for its vibrance and youthful appeal, yet never really thought of it as a wine that would mature this beautifully over the course of 14 years. The nose showed a mix of fresh herbs, dried flowers and dusty soil with fresh ripe strawberries. On the palate, it was silky, plush and alluring with vibrant acidity giving life to its flavors of sweet herbs, crushed berries, minerals and dried spices. It finished long, with lingering minerality and hints of green olive. (96 points)
2010 Bond Pluribus – The nose showed violet florals with black fruits, crushed stone, hints of smoke and lifting herbal tones. On the palate, it displayed silky textures, yet it was still youthfully lean and tannic with smoky red fruits, exotic spice, and minerals. The finish was structured with a coating of fine tannin contrasted by dry yet saturating dark fruit and spice. This is still so young and hard to read. (94 points)
Article, Tasting Notes and Photos by: Eric Guido