There are times when I stop at my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source and I find myself elevated above my food grade. I am not usually in the pay grade to encounter cult wines, and yes, I have stumbled upon a few in my day, and for which I am greatly thankful for. Over the years, it seems that there has become more and more of these unicorn wines appearing. When I was a wee lad in my teens, learning about wines there were some wines that were awe-inspiring, but they had earned that status over decades of fine craftsmanship. Today, the craftmanship is still honored, but the time frame for some wineries have quickened immensely.
Ream Cellars is a Napa Valley wine that is located in the Stags Leap District and known for their Cabernet Sauvignon based wines. The majority of their wines are sold to their members that are on their mailing list and to a collection of fine restaurants. It started off as a “virtual winery” in 2002 by Juan Mercado and Wendell Laidley with five tons of fruit from both Beckstoffer To Kaon and Dominus Estate’s Napanook vineyards. Later on, they were able to acquire fruit from Beckstoffer Dr Crane and Farella. The wines were originally made at Sherwin Family Vineyards and later at Chateau Boswell. The current majority owner is Scott Becker and took over in 2011, saving the winery from bankruptcy. Realm now owns its own vineyard after acquiring Hartwell Estate Vineyards in Stags Leap District in 2015. Realm Cellars uses a Gothic font of a capital R and every bottle has this quote from Shakespeare’s Richard II “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm…”
Realm Cellars “The Bard” Napa Valley 2018 is their highest production wine with fruit harvested from vineyards across the valley. The production of their wines is evenly split between proprietary blends and single vineyard wines. “The Bard” is their flagship of their proprietary blends. The fruit has been harvested from diverse and famed vineyards like Beckstoffer To Kalon, Beckstoffer Bourn, Blair, Houyi, Larkmead, Realm SLD Estate, Farella, Orchard and Bettinelli Upper Range. The blending of the wine changes each year, but the constant seems to be that it is over seventy percent Cabernet Sauvignon and then Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The first appearance of “The Bard” was 2003, and because it is a proprietary blend, there is basically no technical notes about production, beyond the fact that they produce fifty-thousand bottles of this wine. My only blessing is that over fifty years, I have had the honor of enjoying some spectacular wines and there is a place in a back cubby-hole in my brain that appears periodically to let me compare “apples to apples.” It was during the tasting of this wine, that I wished that I was more akin to some of the other writers and reviewers who have a lexicon of descriptors to bandy about, but it was delicious with notes of red and black fruit and spices, a complex wine with richness, even in its youth and in ten years and beyond, it will be a wine to tell your great-grandchildren about.