The term “organic,” when attached to wine, hasn’t reached a level of sexiness as compared to other perishable produce. Wine is a sensual experience, and truth be told, whether that extra-sensory stimulation is organic, natural, biodynamic or manipulated probably doesn’t make a difference to the majority of wine drinkers. But then, you come across a very special, under-the-radar, small production Napa Valley winery like TOURNESOL, that happens to be Napa Green Certified and certified organic, and one starts to be convinced that sustainable farming, responsible ecological practices, and committed stewardship of the land actually makes a difference in the taste of the wine. The winery’s flagship wine, the Coombsville AVA estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon, only around 200 cases made in most years, is striking in its elegant purity. A passionate ruby red in color, this is longingly rich with expressive, lush, dark fruit flavor on the palate—an involving sensorial experience and the obvious result of tender handcrafting.
I first drank this wine young, around seven years ago, and, for this uncorking, waited until it had spent 10 years in the bottle. The difference is remarkable. I remember the young wine for its power, almost brashness. It was big and viscous and full of braggadocio. A thrilling wine to the senses. What time has done is to reveal that beneath all the confidence and fronting lies a gentle, and generous, soul. Now that it has aged, it is less afraid to show emotion. Maybe that is what’s meant by saying “mellowed out.” Oh, but the wine still has tremendous power. It is a noble power now, like the nobility of a king versus the brazen youth of a prince. This is the transition of Shakespeare’s young Henry IV into the commanding leader he becomes as Henry V. The transformation from boyhood to manhood is epic but quietly so, and with gravitas.
I brought this bottle with me to dine at CUT, chef Wolfgang Puck’s flagship steakhouse in Beverly Hills, and the wine was a perfect companion to an American Wagyu sirloin, as the enthralling acidity that has remained intact over time interplayed beautifully with the heightened marbling in the texture of the cut of beef. The meal revealed that this Napa Cab was crafted to be a food wine, never overpowering—rather, a willing dance partner to—the merry dance of flavors that Wolfgang Puck is known for in his cooking.
“Tournesol” means sunflower in French. This flower loves the warmth of a golden ray of sun. This wine is something to awaken the senses, as in a golden sunrise. –J.M.
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