It’s been a seriously good streak of momentum and mojo for Alexander Valley-based winemaker Jesse Katz since the last time we caught up. Let’s see… his wines are now on the menu at Napa’s The French Laundry, Healdsburg’s Single Thread, and the Grand Hyatt Tokyo and Spago Singapore… was recently featured in the Bay Area’s The Press Democrat… bought a historic Zinfandel-producing Russian River property… will be hosting a wine cruise down the Danube River for his Aperture label… and hosting wine events at Yellowstone Club and San Francisco’s Park Tavern… and the featured guest of numerous winemaker dinners in San Francisco, Laguna Beach, Boston and in his home state of Colorado… while making a Sauvignon Blanc for Dry Stack Vineyard, making several private-label wines for restaurants, and continuing to consult for wineries in South Africa and Argentina.
Lauren Wong, who runs operations for Jesse’s two labels, Devil Proof and Aperture, promises “really fun” private projects in the works but is sworn to secrecy for the moment. Meanwhile, two of the core wines under the Aperture label were just released, the Red Blend and Cabernet Sauvignon, for vintage 2015, and they are terrific—Jesse feels this is his best vintage yet. Our reviews, below.
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Alexander Valley | $62 | 93-95 pts
Balance and finesse are the hallmarks of the 2015 vintage Aperture Cab. One is taken by the deep concentration, expressiveness and voluptuousness of fruit character—notes of blackberry preserves and blackcurrant, with a thickness on the palate of dark chocolate. The wine’s texture is supple and smooth, accentuated with fine tannins, and it moves towards the finish with polish and luxurious ease… now, that’s finesse. This dark, powerful Cab is a sleek hunter in the night—a panther. We’re left with admiration for its beauty and its might. You can drink this now (with a good decanting), but in 3-5 years you can expect the wine to add on further expressiveness—it just might prove to be Jesse Katz’s best Alexander Valley Cabernet yet. It would be perfectly reasonable to compare its qualities, given enough time, to a high-end Pauillac. A 2010 Lynch-Bages comes to mind.
Alexander Valley | $48 | 91-92 pts
From the luscious, almost over-the-top flavors and aromas of boysenberry rhubarb pie with a touch of raspberry sauce and baking spices to the glycerin-smooth texture, broadness of mouthfeel, and an added note of dark mocha the more the wine consumes the palate, this is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to satisfying our need for a red blend. What makes all the difference in the winemaking is the resulting freshness, balance and youthful vitality evident in the wine, comprised of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Malbec and 25% Merlot. In an age of anything-goes selfies, this is a big & bold red that hides nothing and shows it all off. An unabashed wine of our times.