When a wine marketer who is also a retailer turns winemaker, you hope he knows enough about what style of wine will sell and at what price points.
Mark Pope of the Bounty Hunter, an online fine-wine purveyor and hip wine bar-bistro in downtown Napa, has released a new line of Napa Valley Cabernets and a Cabernet Franc under his label, Waypoint. Both the wines and prices reflect Pope's awareness of the market for high-end Cabernet.
Pope’s Bounty Hunter business is strong (www.bountyhunterwine.com)--the wine bar is often packed on weekends--and wine is Pope’s passion. “It just made sense,” he said of Waypoint. “It’s a logical extension of Bounty Hunter, where we focus on great taste for the dollar.”
Marco DiGuilio is the winemaker, and the wines are now made at a custom crush facility, Bin To Bottle, near Napa County Airport.
I first tried his wines a few months ago with my colleague James Suckling, who was prowling around Napa for a few days, and both of us were impressed. Recently they passed through a series of blind tastings, and they showed well again, although I like some more than others. Here are some of my thoughts on each one.
My favorite of the Cabernets is the 2003 St. Helena Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard bottling ($80, 480 cases). It’s a rich, concentrated mouthful of crushed berry, currant and black cherry fruit.
Then there’s the 2003 Waypoint Oakville Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard ($80, 460 cases), which shows off the vineyard’s purity of fruit and supple, polished tannins.
I also liked the 2004 Waypoint Weiss Vineyard ($50, 200 cases), which is well structured, with berry, mineral, earth and tobacco notes wrapped in rich tannins.
Finally, there’s the 2004 Sonoma County Hidden Ridge Vineyard ($65, 125 cases). It shows high-toned, medium-bodied cherry cider and wild berry flavors. Also very good but less to my style is the 2003 Cabernet Franc Oakville Beckstoffer To Kalon ($80, 240), whcih exhibits creamy oak, dried currant and herb.
The two Beckstoffer Vineyard Cabernets, and the Weiss Vineyard, are well worth the effort to try.
John Lindsay — San Diego, Claifornia — April 20, 2007 7:37pm ET
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