after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Wine #1/20: 2013 Luscher Ballard Cabernet Sauvignon (Spring Mountain)

leave a comment »

t says: Alrightie-then! Let’s start off our “20&20 in 2020” off right! On this lovely dinner at home, featuring sous vide T-bones, roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and onion jam, we knew we were going to need something bold to start off our year. But we wanted something that would marry well with the food – not just an all-palate-consuming, grape milk shake Cali cab. After pulling out 6 or 7 wines from our cellar wine fridge, I began putting them back in, as they were individually vetoed by g and I. “Too young.” “Too light.” “Too unknown.” “Too big.” “We just had that last month.” We had to be picky. For the first wine of the challenge, we wanted something “culty” (i.e. low production, low wine press / “under the radar”), but with a personal touch (i.e. g and I have visited). Also, as we’re not made of money (and this was technically not a holiday or birthday), something with a reasonable price (i.e. under a Benjamin) was ideal. In the end, there was only one:

2013 Luscher Ballard Cabernet Sauvignon (Spring Mountain)

This property on Spring Mountain puts out a tiny 200-case-ish production wine (that was a relatively recent move – they had made 100 cases before 2012). They make a single red wine (primarily cabernet sauvignon with some merlot and petite verdot) and that’s it; no white wines, no cute single-varietal bottlings of some ancient grape that no one cares about, no super-ultra-limited reserve bottlings that rob their “regular” bottlings of the best fruit. This is just a lovely family who enlists the help of their friends, the Kongsgaards (wish they were my friends!), to make wine from their favorite vines. No multi-million dollar tasting room. No PR budget. No ego. On the contrary, Christina, who handles all the communications, could not be nicer!

So how did the wine taste? It was great (which is the usual for a bottle of LB), but in a different manner than the usual LB! Historically, Luscher Ballard for us has always been superbly well-balanced between the fruit and savory flavors (so it was delicious), while also having adequate acidity and tannins to keep the mouth both watered and dry (if that makes sense). We often say that Lusher Ballard is what we bring when we’re going to a wino’s house for a dinner party. However, the ’13 bottling was drinking pretty atypically at this time. My notes from two and a half years ago originally had this tasting with explosive dark fruit that was nonetheless still kept in check by the rest of the wine, with herbs, etc. This time, after about 5 hours in a decanter, the fruits seem to have gone into hiding, only present for me while the wine was on my tongue, giving me a sense of a velvet cassis blanket with some spice (?clove?), black pepper, and the characteristic dried herb (this is what I get the most from Spring Mountain wines). But the minute the wine was off my palate – bam! – an absolutely monolithic, thrilling acidity. Turned up to 11 (or 12!). It was so strong that it knifed straight through our fat-laden T-bones and onion jam. The nearly-numbing acidity kept the mouth watering and cleansed the palate, readying me for the next bite. The alcohol wasn’t particularly noticeable for a ‘13, and the tannins were silk. In a vacuum, I think that the acidity could be perceived as astringent – so it’s not the wine I’d drink by itself: but next to food (or in a multi-wine tasting), the wine grabs you by the shoulders and slaps you in the mouth. A fun experience even if it’s not what we expected.

We are a Luscher Ballard fan club over here so we’re not even going to pretend to be impartial. If you’ve never had a LB before, seek out something like that ’12 (or ’14? Haven’t had it yet), which are likely to be a bit more balanced from the get-go. That said, g and I were happy to start off the new year on this one. Many thanks to the proprietors for making such great wines*, and we look forward to many more years of Luscher Ballard.

*No wine on this blog will ever be acquired at a discount or in exchange for a “review”. It’s our wine! We bought it fair and square! We drink it when we want! We write whatever we feel!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

5 January 2020 at 12:31pm

Posted in Happenings

Tagged with

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: