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  • Nick Skinner

B Sides Episode 3

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Fisch 2017 and We Were Promised Jet Packs (damn it!)


Now because of my experience working with one of the top Cabernet Sauvignon producers of the Napa Valley, it is safe to infer that I may know a thing or two about said varietal from said region. I like to believe I do, but every so often I am surprised; and I always welcome those surprises. Tonight’s wine I have never heard of. A fact that isn’t surprising considering how many brands come out of this relatively tiny valley.

Fisch Cabernet Sauvignon is produced by Gary Fisch of Gary’s Wine; a retailer originating in New Jersey and recently setting up a shop in Napa Valley. Gary’s wine is where I purchased this “Discovery Case” that I have been essentially reviewing; hope they don’t mind the minimal press. There isn’t much about this wine online. And by not much, I mean nothing.

So… fuck it we’ll do it live.

The color is quite dark for a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, trading a normally cherry red perimeter for something closer to macerated plums. The first sniff (oh no, I don’t like how that sounds) is pure baking spice; almost gingerbread house like. I let it open up in the glass while listening to a handful of songs and doing research. Side note, I know what I said about Arcade Fire yesterday, but go listen to their album The Suburbs. If you have before, it is still as excellent as it was back then and if you haven’t it is something amazing.

Unfortunately, upon returning to the wine, the nose lands on a territory that I often hate. Not because it is objectionable, but because it provides confirmation bias to a certain “Guild.” The nose has a progression: jalapeño, then fruit bomb, then ash tray, and then it disappears. A series that is frustratingly and uncharacteristically no longer representative of Napa Valley. The palate tells a similar story, sadly. It feels like the grapes were picked late, pushed through a hot fermentation, and then forced to over extract. The result is an entirely lackluster experience.

What I hate more than the experience of this wine is knowing what it could be. There is a reason that Cabernet Sauvignon is such a highly regarded grape; in Napa Valley, in France, and across the globe. It is beautiful! It makes beautiful wines! I might say it is my favorite grape but that is also like picking my favorite Led Zeppelin record… near impossible to do. So, let’s turn to the positive. Here are some of my favorite Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons that I encourage you to drink:

Ashes and Diamonds (Anything by Steve Matthaisson. He is a god damn wizard) Caldwell, Heitz (pre buy out), Dunn, Alpha Omega (young and decanted), Viader, Bremer, Keever, Keenan, Schweiger, Storybook (Their Cab is good, their Zin though, the fucking BEST!) Titus, and a handful more that I am forgetting… ONE VERY SPECIFIC ONE for sure… These are incredible producers that I hope to get to write up one day soon, but please go visit them and show support for their amazing wines.


Recently I rediscovered a band that I love. It is always interesting when I find myself going: “Why did I stop listening to this? This is so god damn good.” Music coming and going in time is a good thing, distance makes the heart grow fonder, all that shit, etc.

The album that has gripped my soul (extreme I know) is “These Four Walls”’ by the Scottish band We Were Promised Jet Packs.

This album kicks fucking ass; get your mouth guard ‘cause it might kick your teeth in. The awesome thing this album does is build and then it explodes. It makes you want to sit and listen to the swirling, soothing chaos. Amazing dynamics between quiet times and loud times. It is very post-punk, indie rock. And you might think this isn’t your thing, but you still might be able to connect to it. All I ask is give this a shot with any of the wineries I mentioned above; the combo (probably) won’t disappoint.

Until next time, Cheers!

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