I can’t think of a better way to introduce this wine than with the story of how it got its name…

From Yorkville Cellars Founder, Ed Wallo:

Richard I was the King of England from 1189-1199. Along with the kingship of England, Richard also inherited Dukedoms and Counties across Europe too numerous to list here, one of which was Aquitaine, known to us in modern times as Bordeaux, in the south west of France. Richard is famous for spending very little time in England, preferring to spend most of his time fighting. However, he understood that his war machine required one very important thing: top quality wine.

In 1199 Richard signed a charter that granted, for the first time, self governance to a group of the King’s subjects. The city of Saint-Émilion on the Gironde River, just northeast of what is now the city of Bordeaux, received the right to govern itself in exchange for quality-control checking every barrel of wine that was shipped from their port to Richard’s troops. If the sampled barrel passed the taste test, the side was burned with the King’s royal seal. If it didn’t, it was hurled into the river.

The six Noble Red grapes that were planted in Richard’s time are some of the same ones we have planted in our vineyard at Yorkville today. Those same varietals all blended together (as in this blend) was the wine Richard, with his refined palate, was gulping down after the heat of battle.

Cool story, no? So let us taste with our refined palates, this most royal of red blends…

About the Wine: Yorkville Cellars 2014 Richard the Lion-Heart is a blend of the 6 noble grapes of Bordeaux: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec, 3% Carmenere, and 3%, Cabernet Franc. All grapes were harvested from the Yorkville Cellars estate vineyards located in the Yorkville Highlands AVA in Mendocino, California. Each grape variety was fermented and aged separately in 100% French oak for 16 months. Once the final blend was decided, the blended wine aged for five more months in barrel (again, 100% French oak). The blended wine aged a further 10 months more after bottling.

13.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of Richard the Lion-Heart and breathe in boysenberries, plums, dates, and bitter chocolate. This red blend royalty is, indeed, completely ruby red on the pour (and fragrant, I must add), settling into the glass just as luminescent if not a bit denser at the very core.

Initial aromas are of a dusty, dried earthiness, tree branches, and dried leaves. Swirl and release those fruit notes mentioned above, but also some greenery — as if the life has been put back into those dried leaves, creating the plump juicy fronds of a succulent.

The palate is soft with tangible but elegant tannings that caress the tongue romantically. Acid is prominent from start to finish, keeping the fruit components alive. Dominant flavors are of boysenberries hanging from the bush, black cherries, licorice, wet stone, damp bark, with a finish of plum skins and raisins.

Food Pairing: The Yorkville Cellars 2014 Richard the Lion-Heart is best served with a meaty vegetarian dish. Indeed, I paired this red blend with a roasted portobello mushroom stuffed with diced tomatoes and fresh herbs, topped with a bit of mozzarella and served on top of a bed of wilted spinach. The meatiness of the mushroom as well as it’s natural, kind of “oily” texture, perfectly calmed down the tannins and rounded out the mouthfeel. The wilted spinach brought out some of those “green leaf” notes, while the tomato mixture played well with the fruit components.

You could also have this with a mushroom pizza. Just saying.

More Info: I received the Yorkville Cellars 2014 Richard the Lion-Heart as a sample for review. (Cheers Ed!) Retail: $46. For more information about Yorkville Cellars, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Yorkville Cellars website.

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