Samantha Sheehan had the good fortune to taste a lot of the world’s great wines at a fairly young age. She knows what exceptional wine is supposed to taste like. To satisfy her own artistic needs, she founded Poe Winery with the intent of showcasing specific California vineyard terroirs made in a transparent, minimalist way. There’s also apparently a little whimsy as Poe also produces a nouveau Pinot, Vermouths and, of course, a Rose. Apparently the winery is involved in a charitable endeavor or two, but there is still an awareness that not everybody can plunk down serious money for wine.
To that end, Sheehan has been making a wine called Ultraviolet Cabernet since 2010 in a price range that can appeal to a much broader audience. Why ‘ultraviolet’? Apparently it is a nod to ‘fruit ripened in the California sun’. The wine also bears the banner “Bottled in the Napa Valley” with the wine’s appellation not immediately evident. On the back label it says California Cabernet in a way that doesn’t really give the impression that it is an appellation reference.
What is evident is that, while this fruit may not be all from Napa, it also doesn’t taste like it is sporting the kind of Central California 'filler' that most ‘value’ Cabs seem to feel they need to have for cost reasons. If it isn’t all North Coast fruit, it certainly tastes like it is. What is particularly relevant here, besides the supple (particularly for a young Cabernet) cassis fruit component, is the texture. There’s a suppleness to the midpalate you don’t typically see in wines of this price range, with rounder edges and laid back tannins.
It isn’t big or jammy. It is a crowd pleaser certainly with enough volume and fruit that tastes like it is supposed to taste, genuine and rather elegant. The stats are interesting in that the wine is 95% Cabernet and 5% Franc, and it sees 50% new French oak but the wood is definitely integrated. The point is that it definitely shows a certain breeding and delivers a lot for it’s more than modest fare.