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2009 Verite La Joie Sonoma
(96 Points) The 2009 La Joie (14.5% natural alcohol, and a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot and Malbec) boasts an opaque purple color along with abundant notes of wood spice, barbecued meat, new saddle leather, creme de cassis and forest floor. Rich, full-bodied and powerful with moderately high tannins, it needs to be forgotten for 5-7 years, and drunk over the following 25-30 years.
This is the flagship, luxury, world-class winery of the late Jess Jackson’s portfolio of small, high quality estates. Jackson convinced Bordelais Pierre Seillan to come to California from St.-Emilion to make these wines, and Verite has been one of the classics for well over a decade. The La Muse cuvee represents a Pomerol-styled wine, La Joie a Medoc and Le Desir a St.-Emilion. These are long-term, concentrated, tannic efforts that usually require 5-10 years of bottle age, and are meant to age for at least three decades. The 2012s possess fabulous potential. It is nearly impossible to decide which of the three cuvees is the finest (it probably depends on your own personal stylistic predilections), but the alcohols are normal for a top California vintage, ranging from 14.1% to 14.3%. Obviously, 2011 was a much more challenging vintage, and the wines reflect that although they are unquestionably successful, even in this vintage. Pierre Seillan told me that the harvest was extremely late, and there had to be an enormous amount of selection done both in the vineyard and the winery to create these cuvees. A relatively cool, late-harvest year with a tiny crop, the 2010 vintage required a tremendous selection process as well as meticulous work in both the vineyard and winery. All three offerings have turned out to be surprisingly approachable for young Verite wines. A great vintage for Verite that rivals 2012 and probably what was achieved in 2013 is 2009. It was the type of vintage that Seillan desires – high in tannin, high in extract, with incredible upside potential for all three cuvees. The 2009s are the most backward and powerful of the four vintages reviewed in this report. The alcohols ranged from 14.5% to 14.6+%.
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