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New reviews: 7 wines from Nick Goldschmidt


Nick Goldschmidt sent me some of his new wines to review, so here they are. As usual, a great job from this veteran master winemaker.

Goldschmidt Vineyards 2017 Game Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville); $90. This is one of Goldschmidt’s most ambitious wines, a 100% Cabernet from Oakville, Napa’s most prestigious region. It is, in a word, stunning. Oozes cabernet-ness in every conceivable aspect, from the intense black currants and tar in the nose through the rich, deep blackberry essence and espresso flavors to the long, spicy finish. And those tannins! Like buttah! You taste this wine and your mind just says, Wow. The vineyard is at the eastern end of the Oakville Cross Road, the warmer side of the valley, catching the afternoon sunshine that heats up the volcanic earth. The grapes grew intensely ripe in this good vintage, but there’s not a hint of the heavy portiness that can mar such wines; the alcohol, officially clocked at 14.7%, is pleasantly balanced, with warmth but no heat at all. A wine like this can handle a lot of oak; in this case, it’s 85% new, the wood bringing notes of vanilla, smoke and wood spice. The trick with a Cab like this is to find the sweet spot between massive power and elegance, and Nick Goldschmidt has accomplished precisely that. Its precision and complexity merit the very high score. Drink now and for at least the next ten years. Score: 98 points.

Goldschmidt Vineyards 2017 Yoeman Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley); $75.A huge wine, in terms of body and flavor. Another 100% Cabernet, in the Goldschmidt style, it’s inky black in color, impenetrable to the eye except at the extreme rim, where it turns a royal purple. This tells you it’s young and extracted, an impression amplified at the first sip. Masses of ripe blackberry jam, blueberries, espresso, chocolate and a sweet, bell pepper herbaceousness. This is the essence of Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, rich, dense and flashy, with firm tannins. So complex, you discover nuances all the way through a long, spicy finish. A Cab to linger over a great steak. Nick Goldschmidt says the “cellaring potential” is 20-25 years. I’m not sure I’m as confident. I’d drink this wine now and over the next ten years, and if you still have a few bottles after that, see what happens. Score: 94 points.

Chelsea Goldschmidt 2019 Salmon’s Leap Merlot (Dry Creek Valley): $22. I used to have a lady friend who wore a mink coat. I’d see her during the winter in New York City, and I’ll never forget the sensual delight of that fur when she came in from a 20-degree night. I’d bury my face in it and enjoy! This Merlot reminds me of that experience. The grapes are from Nick Goldschmidt’s home vineyard. The wine is 100% Merlot, and it needs no other additions because it’s so lovely to drink. It oozes licorice and black cherries, with a kirsch-like taste that turns spicy and long on the finish. (Nick himself finds plums and blueberries but I’ll stick with the cherries, although I too detect chocolate.) Whatever fruits you personally discover, it’s a rich, delicious, softly tannic wine, with just the right touch of smoky oak. And it has that undefinable quality that makes you sip over and over, because each one is more tantalizing than the last. Just marvelous, and a great value. Score: 94 points.

Forefathers 2020 Wax Eye Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough); $22. This quintessential Marlborough Sauv Blanc is everything I like about the variety and the region. It’s so clean and crisp, focused and flavorful, crisp and dry, with a tangy crushed-rock minerality, and all that fabulous fruit—lemon curd, mango, papaya, Key lime pie, vanilla (yes, vanilla is a fruit). It’s 100% varietal and 100% single vineyard. Like the 2020 Boulder Bank [below], it’s unoaked, but considerably more intense, the result, I suppose, of the terroir and winemaking technique. The wine is, simply, an instant darling if you like clean, cold, penetrating Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc without the pyrazines. An insane value at this price. Score: 93 points.

Chelsea Goldschmidt 2019 Guidestone Rise Merlot (Alexander Valley): $22. When I was a working wine critic, I knew that Alexander Valley made good Merlots, a bit softer and more herbaceous than Napa, but generous and balanced. Now here is an Alexander Valley Merlot of great interest. The “Guidestone Rise” is in the heart of the valley, east of Geyserville along Route 128, a true wine road that runs across the Mayacamas into Napa Valley and the Central Valley. The vineyard’s elevation is 300 feet, not exactly mountainous but high enough to call a “rise” in these flatlands. Bordeaux reds grown in this tenderloin of the valley are dependably soft, delicious and complex, and so it is with this 100% Merlot. The impression is of intensely ripe black cherry fruit, with milk chocolate notes and the smoke and vanilla of oak. Pretty and polished, it’s a fine red wine to drink now and over the next few years. By the way, the $22 retail price makes it a steal. Restaurants should scoop it up. Only 2,250 cases were produced. Score: 91 points.

Hillary Goldschmidt 2018 Charming Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville): $50. Tight and harsh in tannins now, but that’s the way some of these young hillside 100% Cabs are. There’s an impressively deep core of blue and black fruits: black cherry, blackberry, plum and currant, liberally accented with new French oak. The acidity is just fine, and there’s a pleasing grip and tension. I suspect a lot of people will drink it at a steakhouse with a porterhouse or ribeye, and that’s fine, as the tannins play well against meaty fat, and the wine opens up as it breathes. But it will benefit from a little aging. Score: 90 points.

Boulder Bank 2020 Fitzroy Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough); $19. My readers know how much I like Boulder Bank. I have described it as pure as snowmelt, with a cold tang to the citrus, tropical fruit and grassy, gooseberry flavors, a clean, clear finish and the usual cool-climate brisk scour of acidity. No oak, of course, but there’s some creaminess from lees contact. This 2020 is riper than in past vintages; the year was considered excellent in Marlborough. It’s an easy wine to like, but I prefer the 2019, which was a tad sharper, more green and steely. I hope the warming climate doesn’t turn Marlborough into California. Score: 89 points.

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