When people ask me what attracts me to the world of wine, it’s so much more than the liquid swirling around the glass. For me, the world of wine is the combination of stories, history and locations that each bottle holds. One such wine is the 2014 Burly Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine enthusiasts take note — this is one Bottled Up not to be missed.
I had the opportunity to taste this exquisite wine this past weekend and found the journey of this wine’s birth to be quite striking. While in the process of creating their retirement home in Napa, owners Hank and Bernice McCrorie were given the unique opportunity to lease a small vineyard from the Simpkins Ranch and jumped on the opportunity.
Building upon their new-found appreciation of Napa Cabernet, and with vineyard in hand, they now had the opportunity to create their own visions of wines. The dilemma now was what to create a name befitting of the wine’s special qualities. Ultimately creating the name from a former football nickname and opportunity to homage the childhood trees from the McCrorie’s home state in North Carolina, every label features an elaborate and “burly,” oak tree that seems to foreshadow the bold red wine inside.
To create the wines, the McCrorie’s enlisted the help of winemaker Massimo Monticelli, formerly with Silver Oak, and vineyard manager Michael Wolf, formerly with Cakebread and Duckhorn, to help them create this unique mastery in a bottle. Letting the grapes and terroir speak for themselves, they strive to offer the true song of Cabernet. As only 200 cases are produced, the words “special selection” in its name are well-deserved.
The notion of “small production” wines are a relatively strange concept here in the Quad-Cities. Here, many of the wines we see on the shelves of your local grocery stores are produced large wineries — operations from California to Europe with anywhere from 1,000 to 500,000 cases being produced each year. Small production wines, like Burly, give winemakers more creative freedom to tell the story of their unique grapes and terroir and create something special.
Hailing from the Coombsville area, just east of Napa, winemaker Massimo combines Cabernet Sauvignon and 100 percent French oak small barrels to impart a complex layer of tannin and structure to the wine.
As the wine swirls in your glass, colors from purple to brownish hues dance with slight to little rim variation showing the youthful nature of this wine. The dark purple core showcases richness in color and depth. The Coombsville area is slightly cooler than the rest of the Napa Valley, and as a result, the grape clusters are allowed to remain on the vine in small clusters for longer before they undergo a cold maceration during vinification. This deep, concentrated pigment can be seen as you swirl the wine in your glass and moderately stains your glassware.
Robust aromas of black cherry, blackberry, rhubarb, can all be detected as you sniff the wine. The sandy clay soil from which the Cabernet grapes come from is called “loam,” and can actually be picked up in the wine’s earthy aromas and even slight mushroom notes. The oak-usage in the wine is apparent and imparts aromas of forest floor and a wood deck on a cool rainy day.
As the wine rolls over your taste buds, flavors of blackberry, plum and stewed dark fruits are complemented by the tastes of licorice, chocolate and spice. As the wine continues to open, other elements of sage and herbaceous notes begin to reveal themselves on the palate. Additional slightly floral elements of dark flowers showcase the complex and elegant nature of this wine’s flavor profile and are presented with a velvety mouthfeel that is supple and rich.
This is a wine that would be classified as very dry, high in acidity and a medium-long finish. Almost 15 percent alcohol, avoid any food pairings that would risk being over-powered by this “burly” red Cabernet. Instead, pair this wine with ribeye steaks, rolled to resemble a filet. The marbling and rendered fat in this steak is the perfect complement to the tannins and structure showcased in this complex wine. I would also recommend a meaty, tomato sauce-laden pasta dish, as the acidity and round fruity characteristics in the wine are perfectly matched for the richness in this type of dish. A great alternative from a classic Italian Super Tuscan or Barolo wine pairing.
The 2014 Burly Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon may be one that’s hard to come by here in the Quad-Cities but it serves as a great example of wines that come with a story and by its ability to broaden our palates and encourage wine enthusiasts to find the next hidden gem just waiting to be discovered. Price varies on vintage but averages around $125. If you’re interested in purchasing this wine, it’s recommended you contact the Burly Family Winery at 707-299-7085 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.