The 2005 Robert Foley Claret is a wine that I wasn’t very impressed with when I first drank it. I didn’t feel it was very approachable and it just didn’t suit my palate. So much so that I stuck it in the corner of the wine cellar and forgot about it. That was sometime near the end of 2008.
Let me share a little of my research on winemaker Robert Foley. Foley has been making wine since 1977. He was founding winemaker at Pride Mountain Vineyards. I have been a longtime fan of Pride’s Cabernet Reserve and its Vintners Select wines. Both of which I have in my cellar. He has also works at another one of my favorite wineries, Switchback Ridge, where he crafts the many Switchback Ridge wines.
Not long ago Kelly Peterson, Managing Partner at Switchback Ridge and Robert Foley were guests on my friend, Didier Loustau’s ToutSuite Social Club program in Napa. They did a segment on Switchback wines. You can watch the show below. It will give you insight into Foley’s winemaking philosophy:
This summer I moved some wine from my wine cellar at home (I needed to make some room for more wines) to a new cellaring area in our warehouse and into the wine cellar in my office. As you can guess, one of the wines that moved was the 2005 Foley Claret.
Several of my friends and I have developed a routine of having lunch together once every couple weeks. We lunch in my office area over a bottle of wine and a sandwich. It’s a simple arrangement. The friends get the sandwiches and I select the wine from my cellar or from our warehouse.
Several months ago good friend Brad Richards was coming by for one of our monthly lunches and I decided to try the Foley Claret since I hadn’t tasted it in couple of years. I decanted the wine about an hour before lunch and let it set in the 58° wine warehouse. The wine’s color was a dense, deep purple. The nose had changed from what I remembered, suddenly it had become exciting: it had hints of cherries, cedar and a little smoke. This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet and 10% Merlot. On the palate the wine matched the nose with tastes of cherries, cedar and a little mocha flavor. The finish was long with good balance between the dry tannins and minerality. The dryness of the wine seemed to pull your cheeks into your mouth and you could feel the wine coat your mouth and teeth – and wow, what a finish.
The wine had certainly aged into a classic. My research showed that wine had scored well from the beginning. Ranging from Wine Spectators Magazine’s 89 points (a little low in my opinion, even if I didn’t care for it the wine at release) to Robert Parker’s 95 points. Steven Tanzer scored it at 93 points. Wine-Searcher.com scores the wine at 92 points and lists 29 wine shops that have it in inventory. Prices range from $80 to $125 per bottle (the $125 is a little much).
Many wines are made to drink in the first year or two after they have been bottled. Some wines, such as this 2005 Claret, certainly need some cellar time. I am always for letting the wines age for a while. Only by tasting them every now and then can you tell how the wine is aging. That is one reason I always purchase four to six bottles of a wine I feel or know I am going to like. That gives me the opportunity to cellar it over time.
If you get the opportunity to try some of Robert Foley’s wines or the wines he makes at Switchback Ridge you should do so. You’ll have to be the judge on the vintage selection and the price, but he does make some pretty good wines. I recommend the 2005 Claret as it is a good wine.
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Until next week,