The 2008 Woodcutter’s is the third vintage I’ve tasted. I purchased the ’06 vintage from Putnam Wine in Saratoga a few years ago and specifically recall what the salesman said: “It will make your toes curl, it’s that good.” The ’07 vintage came unexpectedly as an engagement gift from Carey’s former coworkers and was also delicious, despite an incredibly difficult growing season assailed by drought, frost and short periods of grape splitting bouts of rain.
Torbreck has began releasing wine since 1997. Influenced stylistically from the Rhône Valley, winemaker and founder David Powell has produced some of the most sought after and recurrently successful red and white wines in a staggering range of price points. In its debut year, Torbreck’s flagship Run Rig Shiraz earned a 95 rating—its lowest rating ever—from Robert Parker, and has since earned a 99 rating in 5 separate vintages. But, despite scoring success at a time when the American palate was craving colossal red wines and some uninspired Australian fruit gravy was shoveling in big scores, Powell’s wines, from what I’ve experienced and read, are divergent, incredibly involved, with roots in both the old world and new—stylistically revered, not tiring.
From my notebook:
Memorable? Not quite adequate. This is the kind of wine that will imprint in your memory even in the most distracting of social situations. Want to remember the wine you drank at your wedding?
Peripheral oak—my first note. Aging occurs in large format oak foudres—none new, I believe—so there is a definite laisseez faire fruit purity, contributing complexity and subordinate seasoning. Intense color—vibrant, nail polish enamel surface with ruby tips (as Carey put it). No fining or filtering—a natural new car finish.
Black pepper, licorice, and rainy, flinty minerals. Profoundly deep flavors of cherry stones, blackberry, plum and smoke, followed by a pleasantly cool, much enjoyed chest burn. Recurring aromas and flavors of mango and raspberry sorbet—a very strong likeness to rainbow sherbert, sans limey green part . Medium- to full-bodied, integrated tannins, the most approachable vintage I’ve had to date. Still an outstanding value at about $20. Don’t miss this vintage, it’s the first of its kind to contain the 140 year-old Run Rig grapes that were passed over for the first time in 11 vintages as its own small production release.
Saratogians: Look to Putnam Wine for the most extensive local Torbreck lineup. ’07 Cuvée Juveniles ($24. 49), ’07 and ’08 Woodcutter’s ($23.38/$24.48), ’08 Woodcutter’s Semillon ($19.91), ’06 The Steading ($37.39), ’03 The Descendant ($123.45), and the 99 point 2002 Run Rig ($177.24)