Review: Wines of Vicarious, 2022 Releases

Review: Wines of Vicarious, 2022 Releases

Vicarious isn’t just a brand of wines — a sub-brand of Napa’s Modus Operandi — it’s a wine-tasting “experience.” Vicarious comprises four Napa/Sonoma bottlings, each backed up by online video that walks you through the winemaking and tasting process. I’m not sure I buy the economic argument that $65 for four 4-ounce sample bottles and some video — as solid as it is — is the equivalent of a $7000 trip to the wine country — but I suppose you’ll have to be the judge on that one.

I tasted all four current Vicarious releases, following a Zoom-based introduction by its winemaker. All were tasted from sample bottles, but full bottles are available ($195 for the set) — as are 8-ounce samples ($95 for four) — and the full bottle prices are indicated below. Please note that sample bottles arrive without any vintage information noted (you simply get the most recent one available), but I inquired and am including that data in the tasting notes below.

2020 Vicarious Chardonnay Sonoma Coast – There’s lots of acidity in this chardonnay, which initially keeps its barrel influences at arm’s length. Notes of lime leaf and grapefruit are somewhat surprising up front, the wine eventually winding its way into notes of gooseberry and a light coconut character, silky vanilla lingering on a finish that still finds room for hints of lime and lemon meringue to cleanse the palate. The more I sip on it, the more I like it. A- / $35

2019 Vicarious Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – A soft, quite approachable, and light-hued pinot, the wine shows a gentle cherry core complemented by a very light-handed touch of vanilla and milk chocolate. Turning slightly citrusy on the tongue as the red fruit element fades, there’s a real vibrance here, gently minty on the finish, that so many modern pinots are missing. A wholly approachable wine at this price. A- / $35

2019 Vicarious Red Blend Napa Valley – Blend unstated, but it’s usually some mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, and petite sirah. This is a juicy and fun wine, not overly cab-heavy en route to a showcase of raspberry and strawberry jam, some orange flower notes, and a gentle touch of tannin that sharpens up the back end. It’s a fun mix of fruit and florals that never feels weighted down. A- / $55

2019 Vicarious Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – While the remainder of Vicarious’ s wines are surprisingly elegant, this cabernet is largely uninspired, a fairly expected collection of currants, blackberry jam, and rolling tannins that doesn’t do much to raise the bar. Ample tannins, leathery, tarry and slightly peppery, give the wine a brooding, savory quality on the back end. B / $65

2020 Vicarious Chardonnay Sonoma Coast




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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