On the Trail

A Tasting of Bond's 2013 Releases

Ryan Moses

Bond is one of the more elusive properties in Napa, but its name is attached to some of the region’s most profound cabernet sauvignon—and there was no shortage of profundity in the 2013 releases. Tapped as one of this generation’s great Napa vintages, if not their best-ever, the structure, concentration, and pure quality of the raw materials showed in spades with Bond’s site-specific bottlings.  If you have any interest in being notified when they are available at K&L, please e-mail me here and I can let you know when we’ve secured availability.

A study of the micro-climates of Napa, Bond’s five vineyard designate bottles all tell a different story.  Although I can’t imagine that many folks (even devoted collectors) often get the chance to taste them all side-by-side, I’m left wondering after this tasting if there is really a way to get a grasp of these wines without such a luxury.  Sure, on their own they’ll go toe-to-toe with the Napa elite without issue.  But the beauty, distinction, and character of these wines speak volumes when tasted one after another. They call them their "grand crus," and perhaps it is apt considering that there was a progression to the tasting that wasn’t top-to-bottom, but rather a lieu-dit-inspired exploration more akin to Burgundy. The wines, however, leave no doubt about where they’re from.

On the retail market, the Bond prices are realistic given their first-growth caliber class, but it's extraordinary all the same. The press is astronomical, as is standard when there are 100-pointers scattered in the mix. The beauty of these wines is that there seems to be a fit for every kind of wine lover. After tasting through the 2012s last year and the 2013s today there is one common thread: everyone has a favorite and they are passionate about what it is and specifically why. This excitement and conviction is rarely seen to such a degree with any other label and goes a long way to showing why Bond’s wines are so singular.

Here are my notes from the tasting:

2013 Bond Melbury - First made in 1999, this red-fruit dominated Cabernet hails from a seven-acre hillside vineyard just north of Lake Hennessey. Aromatically it is perhaps the most striking of the 2013s, if not for its complexity then at least for its intensity. It was a perfect preamble to how serious the following wines were going to be. Very silky, it had a distinct savory note and is very tightly coiled. The finish is lined with baking spices, bitter chocolate, and bright fruit.  It is a wine that seems to be apt to age, although not as demanding as the Vecina for example. Enjoy 2022 to 2035+.

2013 Bond Quella - Melbury’s neighbor to the west, it is the youngest of Bond’s vineyard designates, making its debut in 2006. An elegance and grace dominate this wine. Although aromatically reticent at the moment, it is night and day contrasted against Melbury’s density. Bright blue and black fruit frame a soft wine that never lacks for extract or depth. It evolves beautifully with a bit of air (all wines were popped and poured an hour in advance) and keeps showing another dimension when going back to the glass. Gorgeous now, but one that will be fascinating to follow for years.  Drink 2020 to 2030.

2013 Bond St. Eden - From an eleven-acre parcel that had its debut in 2001. The nose here is lined with subtle but persistent notes of graphite and a pure floral note that is utterly fascinating.  It is easy to call this hedonistic, but that perhaps does not do justice to the overall focus, structure, and acidity that keep it lifted throughout a very long finish. Extremely impressive, this incredibly generous but never over-the-top bottling is a triumph in 2013 and one of the highlights of the tasting, although perhaps some of that is due to the immediate style. It’ll be a great one to follow over the next 10 to 20 years.

2013 Bond Vecina - Part of the inaugural 1999 release as well, Vecina is beyond stunning in 2013, even though it is perhaps the most dense and demanding wine of the set. Incredibly compact and tightly wound, it also clearly shows it has the stuffing to evolve into the stuff-of-legends for those who are patient. This replaces the notion of grand cru with that of a first growth and will age just as well as either.  But for all that, it is still explosive on the finish, layered with red and black fruit, and has superbly integrated tannins. This is a tasting experience that will stay with me for a long time.  Drink 2025 to 2060+. 

2013 Bond Pluribus - One of the most unique wines of the set, Pluribus feels like a bit of an outlier. Still, it captured the adoration of many at the tasting for just that. This is their Spring Mountain property that made its debut in 2003. Lined with bright red fruit, it is wild, cool, and elegant. It has a serious tannic structure that melts into the wine and gives it more of a focused, linear approach. If there’s a rendition here for the old-school Napa crowd, it is Pluribus without a doubt. Give this one a few years to settle out and follow over the following fifteen.

-Ryan Moses