Ultra-high-end California producer Cliff Lede produces this limited edition bottling, but don’t go looking for the name on the label. Landslide Fire takes center stage. Cliff Lede is relegated to the tiny type on the back label copy.
A bland of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec from Napa’s Stags Leap District, this is a big wine that is nonetheless surprisingly ready to go only three years after harvest.
Tons of fresh American oak on this, with an immediate nose of lumberyard and pencil shavings. Beneath that: blackcurrants, some blackberry, tobacco, and black pepper. The body is similar, but surprisingly restrained on fruit. It’s the tannins that hit you hard. The first sip is mouth-puckering and withering. After some time in air (and perhaps a slight chill to the bottle), things even out and some of that fruit is revealed. But it’s quite manhandled by the wood, leaving behind a sawdust character that only adds to the tannin profile. At this price, I’d like to see more balance.
B+ / $95