Big Guy Napa Cab for a Little Guy Price: Soda Canyon Cellars 2009

sodaIt’s pretty darn easy to drop a couple hundred bucks on a Napa Cab. There are cult wines and super-cult wines, and all of them ask us to part with a substantial sum for the privilege of tasting them — IF we can find them.

I just stumbled across a Napa gem because one of my hard-working wine reps (Thank you, Gabe) pulled a bottle out of his sample bag and said, “You know, this thing has been open for five days, but why don’t we taste it anyways?” This Thing turned out to be Soda Canyon Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, a second- or third-label bottling from Beau Vigne Wines.

Who is Beau Vigne? Well, Beau Vigne makes great Napa reds that earn huge ratings and sport a price tag that’s respectably high ($– ish) but seem a bargain compared to the stratospherically priced cult wines.

And then they have this “lower tier” called Soda Canyon Cellars that didn’t taste “lower” to me.

Backstory first: Soda Canyon and Beau Vigne are owned by Ed and Trish Snider, and until recently their winemaker was Dave Phinney. Ever heard of “The Prisoner?” “The Prisoner,” “Saldo” et al are the private project of Beau Vigne’s now-ex-winemaker.

Are you following me?

And “Soda Canyon Cellars” is named for the vineyard’s location at the top of Soda Canyon Road, on the east side of the Napa Valley in the Atlas Peak region. The vineyards sit at about 1,350 feet elevation, which gives their fruit some mountain-grown character.

And what’s “mountain-grown character?”

My favorite, that’s what.

Grapes grown at elevation get a little more radiant heat and slightly cooler temperatures, which generally results in more intense flavors, acid and structure. The result is usually an ass-kicking wine (that’s a technical term…).

Soda Canyon Cab didn’t disappoint. Now remember that I was tasting a bottle that had been open for five days. Most wines would have laid down and died, but this thing hit me with a nose that was rich, round and juicy with dark fruits and vanilla. The intenseĀ  and very pretty deep garnet color suggested a highly extracted wine, and the palate was all of that. The fruit was deep, dark, rich, and deep.

Didi I say “deep?” This thing kept on coming, with layers of dark fruit, mocha, and licorice. And this was after being open for five days?

I think this wine is still a baby, and will mature very nicely in your cellar for five or ten years. If you can find it, grab all you can. At $50 – $60, it’s a real bargain in theĀ  Super-Premium Napa Cab department. Cheers!

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