The Vice “Extra Añejo” Napa Valley Cabernet, $99
The back story
On the surface, there’s little seemingly in common between red wine and tequila. But this Napa Valley–produced bottle, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, bears the same designation — “Extra Añejo” — that you’ll find on select bottles of the Mexican spirit. How to explain?
It’s all about aging: “Extra Añejo” is Spanish for “extra aged.” And like the tequila that bears the classification, this wine, from a Los Angeles–headquartered vintner called the Vice, which aims to offer a wide variety of Napa-sourced sips, is aged for a lengthy period. In the Vice bottle’s case, that means five years in oak barrels — more than twice the normal period for such wine.
In theory, longer aging means more flavor, so why isn’t this done typically with wine? Malek Amrani, the winemaker who founded the nearly decade-old label, says there’s always concern that the extra time in the barrel can result in a wine that’s too “oaky” because of all that contact between the liquid and the wood. There’s also a practical factor: Winemakers want to move product — and storing wine for years on end doesn’t exactly speak to that idea. “From a financial standpoint, it doesn’t make sense,” Amrani says.
But Amrani was game to give it a shot. He says he went with Cabernet Franc as the primary varietal in this blend because he felt it could stand up well to the aging. The Merlot in the blend (just 2%) was added to make up for the “angel’s share” — the liquid that evaporates over time.
So was the wait worth it? Amrani says he’s “couldn’t be happier” with the result.
What we think about it
We indeed wondered if the wine would be a bit much, but we instead found it is a flavorful charmer of a sip — not too big, but instead full of pleasing vegetal and violet notes (though the Vice says you should be picking up white truffles, dried sage and crème de cassis in the midpalate). It’s also got a rich, satisfying mouthfeel.
How to enjoy it
We paired this with a hearty meal of pasta in red sauce, and it worked quite well. Amrani says he likes to go with Kobe steak or any dish with truffles as his pairings of choice.