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I had a very, very ambitious 5th of April. I had decided to make my special vegan chili recipe (it is lent, after all… or was, still, when I did this: lent is over now, thank goodness!), and decided I wanted to drink Tannat with it. I had chosen the 2014 Flying Leap Tannat to be the pairing, but I also wanted to compare it with the same vintage from right here in the Verde Valley. To that end, I went to Dancing Apache and revisited both the 2014 Capra and the Reserve 2014 Capra, side by side… before returning home and sipping on Tannat from Willcox.
The reserve vintage of the Capra has some key differences in palate and production, so I felt it was best suited for an entry of its own. Unlike the “regular” 2014 Capra, there’s plenty of bottles left, but you should still grab it while you can.
The Wine: Information has largely been lacking on how this wine was made versus the non-reserve. I know future vintages made at Chateau Tumbleweed are designated as Reserve vs. Regular based on the location of vines within the vineyard block, but for 2014, I suspect this Reserve Capra was made in the same way as some other reserves at D.A.: the first free-run juice from the press was siphoned off and fermented seperately. The only fact I have here is that this wine was aged in barrel for 18 months. There is also a definite influence of new oak here, either French or Hungarian; I’d guess at least 20% new oak. The color of this vintage is slightly more reddish-orange than the non-reserve; possibly due to the nature of barrel aging. This vintage was made at the Stronghold production facility and bottled at Chateau Tumbleweed.
The Nose: The nose of this wine feels heavier and more subtle than the regular 2014. Notes of smoke, wet earth, and subtle prickly pear, cassis, and raspberry emerge through the heavy vanilla and sandalwood notes imparted by the oak. Subtle hints of perique pipe tobacco and cherry round out the nose.
The Palate: The palate again has a heavy influence of sandalwood and vanilla, with hints of pomegranate and sour cherry. Cassis, iris, prickly pear, espresso, and heavy, leathery tannins round out a slightly more acidic mid-palate than the 2014 regular Capra. There also seems to be a more pronounced smoky flavor in this wine, but that may be partly due to the oak influence intermingling with the smoke taint from the Slide Fire. The finish lasts for 1 minute and 26 seconds and is filled with notes of damp clay, smoke, anise, and prickly pear. The finish is, for lack of a better word, more rounded than the 2014 non-reserve.
The Pairing: I honestly want to pair this with a good pipe smoke, more than food: something with a heavy latakia or perique component. The heavy (for Arizona, anyway) oak also reminds me of that most traditional Napa cab pairing: Steak. Portobello mushrooms, slow-roasted, would work for a vegan pairing.
Impressions: The Oak influence in this vintage is decidedly huge, which is the biggest difference between this vintage and the regular Capra. This feels more like the few Maderian AOC Tannat vintages I’ve had over the years with that huge load of tannins and sandalwood.
If the 2014 Capra was hyper, the 2014 Reserve Capra is more subdued. Personified, this is a wine that is indifferent to what others think. I am reminded of the classic archetype of a British literature or a history professor, with a tweed coat, surrounded by a halo of heavy pipe smoke while pouring over maps and language conjugation charts, something akin to the classic image we have of J.R.R. Tolkien… but it’s not quite him. It is a wine that is perhaps deceptively simple, and I feel it needs more age to come into its own character.
I would recommend decanting this wine for three or four hours if you plan on drinking this wine soon. I strongly advise that if you have a bottle of this, you should really age this for another five years or so for the beginning of its full potential. I readily admit that in this stage of the game, I prefer the non-reserve vintage a bit more, but that is my palate–if you really dig heavy oak, this is a wine you will enjoy now.