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Your Weekly Wine

A California Cabernet Sauvignon Made By One of Napa Valley’s Best

BY // 07.20.16

About a week ago I opened something I had been saving for a while, a 2009 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon. I had picked up a bone-in Wagyu rib eye the day before, and while waiting for it to come to room temperature I had a look in my Eurocave and decided on the Faust. The bottle was a gift from a friend, and that night I put it on my menu.

Some wonderful things hail from California.
Some wonderful things hail from California.

Here’s what the man who made this wine wrote about it:

The 2009 vintage brought moderate spring weather with alternating warm and cool days, which was very similar to the last few years. Early and mid-summer temperatures were temperate with expected warm spells. Late summer heat pushed flavor development and ripening in the crop of small, concentrated berries. The majority of the grapes were picked before the short period of rain and those picked afterwards were hearty Cabernet Sauvignon from hillside sites. De-leafing of the canopy, selective picking and careful sorting ensured that the grapes received at the winery were in optimal condition. The grapes were hand-picked, double-sorted and crushed at Quintessa, then cold-soaked and fermented in both French oak and stainless steel tanks. After an extended maceration, Faust was aged for 19 months in 30 percent new and 70 percent once-used French oak.

Those are the words of Charles Thomas, a California wine veteran (he’s worked with Charles Mondavi and helped create Opus One, and held winemaking positions at Rudd, Domaine Chandon, and Cardinale) who was the head of viticulture and winemaking at Quintessa for a decade. He and his wife, Lily, live on Mount Veeder and are making their own wines now under the Thomas-Hsi label (more on those wines, and the couple, later).

The 2009 is 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 9 percent Merlot, 3 percent Cabernet Franc, and 3 percent Malbec, and it was an ideal pairing for the steak’s richness. At one moment during my meal, the fat in the rib eye melded with a taste of the wine in a way that made me stop chewing. I wanted that combination forever: cherries, tobacco, salt, a bit of leather even. It was more than enough for one evening. I wish I had a few more bottles of the vintage on hand, but that taste memory must suffice for the time being.

The 2009 Faust is a bit difficult to locate on the market, but I have seen it online for $45-$50 from time to time, and the newer vintages are more easily found — you can get the 2012 for around $40. Try a bottle and let me know what you think.

Holiday Gifting

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