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"Dark and intensely brooding… dark berry and black cherry flavors simmered with floral and mineral notes. This is Cardinal Rule’s young Cuveé, a Sonoma blending of five traditional Bordeaux grapes with a creative twist: the wine is 50% Petit Verdot. It’s a wonderful wine, and not for the timid. (If you want a playful, fun wine, get their Pinot Noir instead.)
 
We’re surprised that a 2013 meritage could show this much character so soon (but it does). Certainly it will get even better over the next many years, but it’s ready to drink now. Pair it with roasted meats: anything with an edge of charcoal, Memphis barbecue, richer and wilder meats like venison. Or cheeses with more complex flavors (we have a raw Gouda that we want to try), or a pasta sauce made from roasted tomatoes and roasted peppers. Think barbecue!
 
The wine is beautiful – dark ruby red color with great clarity. It’s a complex nose, with floral, fruit, mineral, and wood notes: We found violets and wet wood smoke mingled with the dark berry. On the palate, the whole gamut of Petit Verdot flavors unfolds, including cedar, graphite, violets again, a little tar, the smallest amount of salt. Bitter tannins are only an accent. After 12 months in a mixture of American and Hungarian oak, the wood is still a little dominant, but is handled pretty well by the wine’s overall intensity.
 
The breakdown: 50% Petit Verdot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 7% Malbec, and 6% Cabernet Franc, all from Sonoma’s Dry Creek area or nearby.
 
This is a very good wine. Cardinal Rule has excellent grapes and an excellent, award-winning wine maker. All that keeps it from being great is time… and, for a small winery, that’s an expensive commodity. We plan to put a couple of bottles back for 5-to-10 years. Most people will drink it now."
 
Wiz rating: 4 (now), 4+ (with more maturity)