Atlas Peak, Napa, CA; 14% ABV
$10 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 12 Dec
This is the second Ardente Cabernet I’ve reviewed out of the vertical that Grocery Outlets received recently: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005. The Berkeley store manager told me that the buyers seemed to think this vintage was the best of the lot. While I agree I liked this better than the 1999, I think the 2005 I tasted only briefly, with a few more years in the bottle, might develop to rival this 2002.
The wine has a lovely dark nose of blackberry / cassis, Bing (purplish red) cherry, cedar, and subtle hints of coffee and licorice. It’s pretty tasty from the start, but I thought it needed about two hours in a decanter to open. Then, its fruits started on the redder side, becoming quite dark and only a little jammy over the next half hour, with a nice fruit / acid balance. This is really an excellent value for the price.
I saved half of this in a 375ml bottle stoppered with very little air. A day or two later, it was redder, but smoother with a better-integrated aged complexity of earth / leather / dried orange peel. IMO, this could hold on for a year or two more in good storage, but it’s probably best drunk up now.