Arguably, the hottest winemaker in California right now is Jesse Katz. For decades, top end California Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-based Blends have almost exclusively been the product of Napa Valley. Certainly, there have been exceptions, but I can name those on one – maybe two – hands. That has changed dramatically in recent years and at the forefront of that change is Jesse Katz.
I don’t know that I can give a complete list of Jesse’s accomplishments, but here’s a short description of some of his accomplishments. Jesse is the owner of Aperture Cellars and Devil Proof Vineyards. Under these labels, Jesse has produced some of the most highly regarded wines in the world. This is no exaggeration as the list of 95 to 100 point wines is longer than my arm and comes from a variety of critics such as Jeb Dunnuck, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, The Wine Independent, and the Wine Enthusiast. Jesse also is responsible for creating “the most expensive bottle in the world” – a 6-liter bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from The Setting (another one of Jesse’s wineries) which sold at Auction for $1 million.
Jesse is kind of a big deal…but he’s also a good friend to both Moret and I. And, fortunately for us, his golfing skills aren’t nearly as good as his winemaking skills so we feel comfortable hitting the course with him on those rare occasions when our schedules align.
All of this led to a unique opportunity for Clarice Members. Moret and I were attending the Sonoma County Barrel Auction, as we produced a charity barrel of Pinot Noir along with the winemakers at Walt Winery. As determined by a random drawing, our Auction Lot was early on during the event which gave me time to drink. Jesse’s lot was late – in fact, it was the next to last lot auctioned off – a rather unfortunate position as many of the bidders also had time to drink and wander off. I, however, drink for a purpose and when I saw that Jesse’s lot was up, I decided to bid on it. That decision was complicated in that I wasn’t a registered bidder but that seemed like ridiculous details at the time. I might point out that Moret – as my General Manager – was there to manage me through moments such as these but let me down in that responsibility (kidding – I am just kidding).
The long and short of it is that I acquired 5 cases of the Debut Release of the 2019 Aperture Cellars Farrow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is already sold out at the winery – and is not available anywhere on Wine Searcher. The only way to acquire it is by being a Clarice Member.
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate rated the wine 97 Points and wrote this about the wine: “The inaugural release of a single-vineyard Cabernet from Farrow Ranch, where winemaker Jesse Katz has sourced fruit for his iconic Devil Proof Malbec for more than a decade… Matured for 22 months in 85% new French oak, the Farrow Ranch has a deep ruby color and explosive aromas of Morello cherries, coffee beans, chocolate, laurel and violet. The full-bodied palate is ripe and powerful with a singular, powdery texture, seamless lift and very classy baking spice accents. Graphite-like mineral character drives the finish and suggests this will unfold in bottle over the next 5-7+ years.”