Sunday, November 28, 2010

WN: William Harrison 2007 Rutherford Simpatico

I've been making an effort to try more wines from Napa, really I have. But Napa doesn't make it easy. The wines are mostly very expensive (even when justified), and many can be super-ripe and generally overdone. I've had positive experiences with wines from Carneros, but up valley Napa has been a tough nut to crack. My general rule is if there's nothing exciting at $15-$30, then I'm not gonna move up to a higher price bracket in hopes of finding more gravitas.

Well, the William Harrison 2007 Simpatico, a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Cabernet Franc from the Rutherford AVA, has opened up a new avenue of exploration by delivering solid value in a style that I personally like. While this isn't hugely structured for the long-term, it is well-constructed and layered in a classical style. It's sort of French in its balance, yet Californian in its clean fruit with subtle minty earthiness. At around $25, this is a complete wine, which is hardly a given, especially in California.

Based on a heat-summation map in the World Atlas of Wine, Rutherford is primarily a Region II climate, meaning it is moderately cool to temperate. Further north moving towards St. Helena and Calistoga the climate shifts to a warm Region III designation. While the various elevations and exposures muddle distinctions a bit, perhaps this sheds a bit of light on the situation. Carneros may indeed be a marginal cold climate, while Rutherford is in a sweet spot where neither massive fruit or herbaceous bell pepper character dominates. Given that many of the famed, historic vineyards are located in Rutherford and Oakville mid-valley, that certainly would be logical.
  • 2007 William Harrison Simpatico - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford

    Nice value for a Napa/Rutherford wine. Cherries, black currant, a hint of mint/earth, and some licorice and tar. Refreshing mouth-watering acidity, medium bodied, supple texture. More to the cherry and red currant side of spectrum, not plummy. Has some smokey oak, but certainly complementary and balanced. Finishes dry with licorice and cedar, though there is a little persistent heat. Seems built for near term, say 3-5 years, and very pleasurable now. Has the layering of a fine wine at an attractive price point. 65% CS, 35% CF.

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