Napa Cabs can suffer from a soft earthiness, but El Molino has succeeded in producing a wine of real substance and style. It shows fine pear, apple and nut bread flavors, along with a figgy, raisiny quality, and has good enough acidity for balance. The finish is very dry. This complex wine should age well over the next five years.
The graceful, subtle nose of pears, apples and hazelnuts don’t prepare you for the richness of this old-guard Napa producer’s 1999 offering. A full and intense palate of toast, honey, spice and pineapple comes on strong. The flavors are supported by bright acidity, and they linger on the long and lively finish.
They didn’t let any malolactic fermentation into this wine, a wise decision because you wouldn’t want it to be any softer. Still, there’s a prettiness to the ripe green apple, honey and toast flavors, which are complexed with layers of tropical fruits, spices and lees.
You might not expect Chardonnay, a cool-climate wine, to thrive in the warmth of a Rutherford summer. But El Molino consistently makes a really nice one. The ’06 is ripely forward in tropical fruit and pear flavors that are enriched with caramel cream and smoky vanilla. But it also has a crisp acidity that gives the wine balance and zest.
El Molino continues to make Pinot Noir, not Cabernet, from Rutherford, and it’s because their fans recognize a nice wine. Pale in color and light-bodied as in previous vintages, it’s nonetheless a delicious red, rich in cherry pie, cotton candy, cola, orange tea, vanilla cinnamon and pepper spice flavors. The mouthfeel is as light and silky as a cloud.
In all objectivity, there is a problem growing Chardonnay in Rutherford. It’s simply too hot. This is a good wine, even an interesting one, but it is not great and not worth the price. It has apple and pear flavors, soft acids, and an oaky, creamy finish.
Shows the herbal, sweet green pea quality that often marks Chards from the central Napa Valley, but that gives it an interesting twist. Otherwise, you’ll find tropical fruits, cream, buttered popcorn and zesty acidity.