Blink and it’s gone. Only 304 cases produced, it was just released to members of the winery and it’s already sold out and the wait list jumped from a few hundred to a few thousand. Why? In June 2014, the Napa Valley Barrel Auction changed the future of BRAND forever. A case (12 bottles) of 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon received the highest bid ever at $9,050. Considering members of the winery pay $225 per bottle, that’s quite a premium for someone to pay. We suppose the simply couldn’t wait to become a member and had to have this wine immediately.
Since the auction, critics and Sommeliers have continued to build steam for BRAND, one of the rare outstanding wines for the 2011 vintage. 2011 was a tough year for the majority of winemakers in Napa Valley. Not these guys. Yes yields were lower, but the quality maintained its impeccable standards.
Ed Fitts and Deb Whitman are the proprietors of BRAND, committed to the details. Finding the perfect plot of land to build the BRAND winery, plant vineyards and begin production was no easy task. This is the kind of place money can’t buy, only an expertly keen eye and understanding for how wine is made could ever make this happen.
2011 is the third vintage to be released from BRAND. A relative newcomer to Napa’s top Cabernets it has wasted no time in becoming a collector’s pride and joy.
We’re not into scores. Frankly we trust our palate and the palates of our peers more than any single person who spends their morning tasting 117 wines and another 108 wines after lunch. We still take scores and critic notes into consideration, but we don’t consider it to be the only factor in pursuit of finding the best wines.
But this score got our attention. In general, wines from 2011 have not been great. There are some absolute standout wines, and there are many absolute disasters. Napa Valley wine scores above 90pts have been few and far between. Scores close to 95pts are almost non-existent. So, imagine the chaotic scramble that ensued when Wine Spectator announced BRAND 2011 received a 94pt score. Quite simply the wine became an instant SOLD OUT vintage.
BRAND is one of Napa’s highest rated wines and now most sought from the 2011 vintage. How, Winemaker Philippe Melka is not afraid of hard work. From france originally, he has worked with first growth Bordeaux, Grand Crus in Burgundy, and now is Napa’s newest authority in winemaking. He’s the man behind several cult wines including Hundred Acre, Dana Estates, Moone-Tsai and others. Everything he touches and ferments turns to wine collector gold.
Intense aromas of dark red and black fruits, coffee and savory spice. On the palate, blackberry, currant and black cherry is attenuated by expresso, tobacco, cedar and well-integrated oak. Tannins are dense and fine grained with balanced acidity and a long beautiful silky finish. Philippe Melka, Winemaker.