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Lail J. Daniel Cuvee 2003

Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
  • RP94
14.8% ABV
  • CG97
  • RP95
  • RP99
  • RP100
  • WS93
  • RP96
  • RP94
  • W&S94
  • WS92
  • WE92
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  • RP91
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14.8% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The wine reveals a profound dark color. Intense and focused, the nose exhibits aromas of plum, cassis, smoke and charcoal. When tasted the wine has wonderful depth and purity. The style is smooth and elegant, finishing with the characteristic J. Daniel Cuvee lingering sweet tannins.

While the 2003 J. Daniel Cuvee is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, it remains a "cuvee" as the wine is a blend of different lots of Cabernet coming from harvests of different vineyards on different dates. The select small lots were sourced from the Lail Vineyards estate on Howell Mountain and the Phillips Family Vine Hill Ranch in the Oakville appellation. Due to the painstaking and detailed selection of lots to marry into the final blend, just 800 cases were produced.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 94
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Lail’s flagship 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2003 J. Daniel Cuvee, is a 900-case effort made from two fruit sources, the Howell Mountain hillsides and the valley floor Vine Hill Vineyard near Yountville. The result is a gorgeously proportioned, dense purple-colored offering boasting a stunning nose of black currants, smoke, earth, and charcoal. Big and rich, with superb purity and great structure, but neither overbearing nor astringent...
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Lail

Lail Vineyards

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Lail Vineyards, Napa Valley, California
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From the somewhat mysterious beginning of the focused and dedicated Gustav Niebaum, through the supervisory interim years of John Daniel, Sr., to the innovative period of John Daniel, Jr., the early history of Inglenook has its fascinations. When John Daniel, Jr., third-generation owner and manager of Inglenook Vineyards, sold the winery in 1964, he thought it was the end of a family tradition that started in Napa Valley in 1879. But history is full of surprises. The Niebaum-Daniel odyssey did not die, but was picked up by Daniel's daughter, Robin Daniel Lail, and her husband, Jon. It was Jon who urged the family to move back to Napa Valley from the Bay Area, and Jon who first returned to the wine business in 1970. Then in 1977 Robin joined the Robert Mondavi Winery, working as Robert Mondavi's assistant for the next five years. In 1982 she co-founded the John Daniel Society with her sister and Christian Moueix to produce Dominus from a vineyard originally part of the Inglenook estate. In 1983 she co-founded Merryvale Vineyards with a group of partners including her husband. The real return to tradition began when Robin sold her interests in Dominus and Merryvale in 1995, and with her family started Lail Vineyards. This venture is dedicated to producing a single proprietary red wine which will rank among the finest wines in the world. While Jon and Shannon Lail are ambassadors at large for the venture, Erin Lail joined the winery in 1998 as the Director of Operations, representing the fifth generation in this ongoing family history. Since the inaugural release of the 1995 J. Daniel Cuvee, the Lails have brought an historic presence and patina to each bottle of wine as they re-kindle their family's winemaking tradition. Production is very limited and the focus on excellence is unrelenting.

Napa Valley

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One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

Bordeaux Blends

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington, and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde river, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful, and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb, or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.

MLNLAILJ_2003 Item# 125697