Lateral Moves Ahead

Good things do happen over time, but I’m not sure I really need to hang around another 20 years to try a great wine like Lateral.

The wine has a lovely aroma tinged with mocha around a core of damson plum.

On approach, the first sip showed healthy tannins with the sweet bite of new oak. It’s a bit tightly wound, so I let it sit for an hour and kept tasting to fully appreciate its charms.

It got better with each sip, revealing more complexities over time thanks to the blend of 30% merlot, 28% cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon 25%, malbec 10% and petit verdot 7%.

The pepperiness of this wine, a characteristic of the cabernet franc grape, makes it interesting.

The deeper, fuller core of merlot fruit provides solid footing. A more subtle earthiness develops as the wine opens up a bit to reveal some of the cabernet sauvignon influence.

A whiff of graphite and vanilla from the wine shows the influence of oak barrels and  provided another interesting interplay.

I think the producers got it right when they set out to make a Bordeaux-style red wine that is more sophisticated and complex than most $30 California red wines. And, it’s got the structure to develop even further over the next few years.

The wine paired well with a simple dish of angel hair pasta topped with tomato sauce flavored with Italian sausage and herbs. Plus some grated parmesan, of course, and a chunk of sourdough bread.

Lateral would be an even better match for grilled tenderloin of beef or pork, in my opinion.

Lateral is a joint production of two Santa Cruz Mountains wine guys. Marty Mathis has a day job as winemaker at Kathryn Kennedy and Chris Condos makes wine under the Vinnum Cellars and Horse and Plow labels.

Mathis came up with the idea for Lateral about 20 years ago.

He sourced fruit from various California appellations to blend into a wine that would emulate Bordeaux. For the last 15 years, Condos has been the “hands-on” winemaker for the project.

What makes the 2008 different is the sourcing of the grapes. They all came from Napa vineyards, including fruit from Robert Sinskey, Yount Hill and Pat Garvy (Flora Springs).

This was the first bottle of Lateral I ever tried, but it won’t be the last. Not by a long shot.

Mondavi Summer Concerts  

Every Saturday in July, the Robert Mondavi Winery will host a series of outdoor concerts at its iconic Napa estate in Oakville.

Robert Mondavi Winery

On July 2, the featured artist is Gavin DeGraw, the New York-based singer-songwriter. The lineup for the rest of the month includes Colbie Caillat (July 9), David Foster and Friends (July 16), Chris Isaak (July 23) and k.d. lang (July 30).

In addition to a lineup of great wines, the Mondavi name has long been associated with the arts in wine country. The Mondavi winery hosts cultural events on a year-round basis, but they go all out with the outdoor concert series each summer.

Click here for ticket info.

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