Mark's Wine Blog
March 01, 2006
Mark's American Cuisine
1658 Westheimer Road
Houston, Texas 77006
Lucky for Us
Unprecedented concept. Unpretentious pedigree. Spellbinding bottle art. The final product: unsurprisingly exceptional.
An alliance between four savvy wine insiders—Kristi Seitz of Brookdale Vineyards (who’s late husband Mike is credited with the original idea for Thirteen), Thomas Knoll winery owner Sean Thomas, vineyard management legend Oscar Renteria, and humble cult-worthy winemaker Steve Reynolds of Reynolds Family Winery—led to the first two vintages of a wine truly expressive of where it comes. From everywhere it comes, that is.
The first two vintages of Thirteen (’02, ’03) derive the name from Napa Valley’s (then)current sub-appellation count: thirteen. In other words, every corner of Napa in one bottle. The inaugural release boasts cabernet from Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley, Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Rutherford, Stags Leap, St. Helena, Wild Horse Valley, and Yountville. Merlot is folded in from Spring Mountain and Carneros, and it’s topped off with a bit of cab franc from Diamond Mountain, and petit verdot ala Oakville.
In a time where vintner’s favored areas are shrinking smaller and smaller, from one estate, to single vineyard, to a specific row of grapes, and expressions of microclimates are honing in on the teeny tiniest smear of soil, Thirteen is a grand scale idea, indeed. So, how does it taste?
It tastes like hang gliding across Napa Valley’s individual distinctions with your mouth open. It’s a big red with intense fruit of cherries and plums. It’s dusty, chocolaty, spicy, and has a faint tobacco edge. I use the term “edge” lightly however, because it isn’t a sharp wine at any stretch. And speaking of stretch, it finishes like the sun setting over the patio at Auberge du Soleil. Fingers of light rake across the Napa floor making the sub-apps glow with The Golden Hour’s fiery hue, and it lingers lingers lingers for so long you might eventually turn away from watching but that doesn’t mean it’s stopped.
We’re lucky wine drinkers to be alive in the first stages of what will hopefully be a long reign of Napa Valley’s own Tete de Cuvee. In its next vintage, Thirteen will retire in favor of… Fourteen, perhaps? As of 2004 Oak Knoll has officially become the 14th AVA, and the proprietors promise: “Rest assured, when we release our ’04 vintage it will include the finest grapes grown there as well. And our name will reflect that change.”
However they decide to re-brand the grand plan, at the end of the day it’s simply more to love. We have a few bottles here at Mark’s, but you’re going to have to ask for it by name. Salud.