While in Napa, there was only one mailing list that I signed up for without hesitation: Larkmead Vineyards. Nowhere else, was I so impressed across the board with each of the wines put in front of me. For the last six months I have eagerly awaited the arrival of my winter allocation and now the wait is over.
The 2007 Firebelle is a blend, made from 62% Merlot, 29% Cabernet and 9% Malbec. On my visit, in July of 2009, I had tasted the 2006 and was amazed by the balance of intensity and acidity, which resulted in a rich yet fresh and satisfying wine. It had all the stuffing of a California merlot blend, but with elegance and nuance that swept me off my feet. Before leaving I was treated to a sample of the 2007, from tank, and it was mind-blowing. All the qualities of the 2006 were present but with a vibrancy that seems to be a calling card of the 2007 vintage.
Now tasting this from bottle, over the course of three hours, I was in store for another treat. The aromatics of this wine are spellbinding. The intensity of fruit is up front and captivating but, as you continue to swirl and sniff, you find more and more within the glass that you hadn’t noticed before. It’s rare that I find myself limiting the amount of descriptions in a wine note but, with the 2007, that’s exactly what I had to do.
I don’t recall ever saying this about a California Merlot blend, but this bottle is worth the price of admission on the aromatics alone. To top this all off, the palate is balanced and refreshing. This is a wine that works with food but can also be sipped on its own without ever being tiring. The 2007 Firebelle is a hidden gem in Napa Valley and it's price, which is more than an everyday drinker, is a bargin in comparison to what's out there. A wolf in sheeps clothing, so to speak.
2007 Larkmead Vineyards Firebelle
My Notes: Deep purple color at its core, which fades to dark ruby red at the edges. The aromatics are intense and rich but, at the same time, fresh with aromas of dusty red fruit, wild berries and a floral nose that swings through violets, mint and lavender. All of this with a hint butterscotch that lingers with each sniff. On the palate you find a mouth coating yet utterly electric collection of flavors. Blueberries and black currants with herbs and earth are all supported by a perfect balance of tannin and acidity. The long, long finish shows mocha and dark fruits. Well done.