A row of barrels in the Relic cave.

2005 Artefact Cabernet Sauvignon

As the longtime Winemaker for Napa Valley Cabernet producers Realm Cellars, Rockledge Vineyards, and Sherwin Family Vineyards, Mike decided it was time to make a Cabernet-based wine for Relic — but with a twist. An homage to vignerons in Bordeaux, who added Syrah to Cabernet-based wines to deepen the color and enhance the aromatics, Artefact pushes the boundaries in the best possible way, with full black-fruit complexity and ultra-fine tannins. Deep, dark aromatics of blackberry, anise, chocolate, vanilla, and violet emanate from the glass. The rich palate is full and plush, with ultra-soft tannins and great intensity, leading to a finish that is supple and long, with a great balance of elegance and power. The Syrah kicks in to finish it off with a lingering note of black pepper.

($65; a blend of 60% cabernet sauvignon, 30% petit verdot and 10% syrah) Bright medium ruby. Lively aromas of black cherry, dark raspberry and flowers. High-toned, fine-grained and superconcentrated but quite powerful and youthfully closed today, despite boasting a rather creamy texture. A big boy that finishes with major tannins that hit the palate late. The cabernet here is from an alluvial gravel and clay hillside in the cool Coombsville area.
Stephen Tanzer
International Wine Cellar
May/June 2008