By Ryan Koczara
Price Range : $17 - 25
Region: Napa Valley, California Ready to Drink: 2-3 years after bottle vintage
One dictionary definition of “cult” is: “. . . an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers.” A “cult wine” in California is typically a Napa Cab that is made from exceptional fruit, shows superlative quality no matter the vintage, and, perhaps most importantly, is otherworldly expensive and rare or hard to obtain. Given this accepted understanding of the term, we think there’s room to create another category of cult wine: a Napa Cab that achieves high quality consistently from vintage to vintage, has a passionate fan base though not yet a household name, and, perhaps most importantly, is extraordinarily affordable and not so hard to obtain.
Our case is made with EDUCATED GUESS Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon by Roots Run Deep Winery. For starters, the 2014 bottling is comprised of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon that is largely sourced from the George III Vineyard owned by the venerable Beckstoffer family in Oakville as well as the Bettinelli Vineyard in Rutherford. Educated Guess also shows consistent quality (see our review of the 2012 vintage below), with the 2014 vintage exhibiting blackberry on the nose, a striking balance of fruitiness and earthiness, ample tannins and mild oak. This is a textbook solid Napa Cab—approachable, fruit-forward and pleasing to the palate, with anyone being hard-pressed to find something to complain about. And here’s the kicker: a bottle of Educated Guess can be purchased for around $20, sometimes less when on sale, at many common retailers. At a production level of 80,000 cases per year, the wine’s no secret—but, relatively speaking, many people have yet to discover it.
A solid, likeable Napa Cab that packs so much value and quality into the bottle, while being widely available for regular wine people to obtain, is indeed a rare thing. Sign us up for this cult. –R.K.
Our 2012 Vintage Review:
This Napa Cab will certainly delight a bargain hunter, especially knowing a good portion of the fruit is sourced from a Beckstoffer vineyard. Surprising complexity for a bottle that runs $20 or less—the hallmarks of high end Napa fruit are here. Boysenberry envelopes the palate with just a hint of oak. Dark hued, young tannins and well balanced, the 2012 EDUCATED GUESS Cabernet Sauvignon, by Roots Run Deep Winery, is also a bit more earthy than what’s proving to be typical for the fruit-forward Cabs of the warm 2012 vintage. If you are hosting a dinner, pour it in a decanter before anyone arrives and, if any of your guests ask, tell them this one runs around $45—they’ll never question you—and keep them guessing. It’s not deception, just good public relations. Stock up! –R.K. 92 pts