Safe Harbor

Dark dark black garnet with considerable brick and sediment.  Perfect cork and capsule and winery provenance until a week ago.  Big stewwy nose, spicy prune and fresh-baked bread clamoring for attention over a thick pudding of reduced fruit, vibrant spice and tertiary wet wool, flabby cedar and birch, and alcoholic vegetal.

See, now… I LOVE these kinds of wines.  This one holds a particularly soft spot for me as I purchased as many Harbor Winery bottles as I could afford back in the 90’s from Darrel Corti in Sacramento when I was in the early struggles of developing a wine problem.  I could spot the punt-less bottle from a block away.  Though defunct, through the miraculous meanderings of the wine-business, I was presented a bottle by the new proprietor of the Harbor facilities when he heard of my romanticism with this label.

Let me start over.  See, now… I LOVE these kinds of wines.  I take these sorts of things to local wine events–bottle-share types of things populated by various miscreants or industry folks at various levels of wine-dorkdom–and they are poo-poo’d 1000% of the time.  I have developed theories… it’s happened so many times.  I feel it is the wine-populace in a burgeoning region.  Even though many of these people have structured training or competitive experience, they automatically sway to a “clean, fruit-driven wine” and eschew anything with aged complexity.  Faded fruit, miniscule taint, slight brett or MOG, pronounced vegetal or complex heady experiences with spice and mint are immediately pronounced “off”.  It’s quite sad and I feel sorry for them.

In the mouth, all the spicy fullness of a 15YO Napa Merlot.  Watery with a back-bite of gritty acid, the nose follows throughout hastening and chastening the feel.  Fruit is faded to an also watery separation of fresh and dried, but I must give a solid A+ for effort from a Merlot.  I’ve tasted Merlots a quarter this age which I consider *donut wines* (hollow in the middle), and this little thing maintains an even keel throughout.  Watery tannins reduced to near nothing pull in the finish.

A wine well past it’s prime but entirely drinkable–if you have an appreciation for *wine*, in all its glory–and time-frames.

2001 HARBOR WINERY Merlot Napa Valley  13.7


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