TN: Thomas Keller's Wine (Modicum)

Had heard a little about this but had never had it before. Got to try it yesterday at Juan Mercado’s (Realm) house during the Super Bowl. This is Keller’s “house wine” for the French Laundry. They make 100-150 cases of two wines and I think it goes for about $100 direct. The wines are made by Paul Roberts, and you can order them through him (I doubt there is any 2005 left) at The wine is a dead ringer for the Levy-McClellan style.

The vineyard source of the Rutherford is an Abreu-managed vineyard in the hills of Rutherford, apparently not far from Sloan. He also makes a St. Helena "Red Wine"wine from Cab, Merlot and Cab Franc grapes on hillside and alluvial vineyards in St. Helena. Both are the same price. This TN is for the St. Helena.

It is not a surprise that the wine is excellent given Thomas Keller does not do things half-way. Like I said, this is very much the Sloan style, and at the same quality level. The name “Modicum” means something like “small amount of something unique.” The label shows a single drop of red wine, with an “M” on top of it, I guess meaning there is very little of it.

Here is a pic of the bottle.

2005 Modicum “Red Wine” St. Helena, $100
Heavy, Merus-sized bottle. 15.1% alcohol listed. Black color. Massively full-bodied. Almost backwards. Blackest of black fruit, spice and oak. Opens slightly with aeration. Mouth coating, bruiser-like, but with a smooth texture. Fine, but substantial tannins that could use a few years. Port like. No burn. More explosive than complex, but this will probably change in time. Not exactly a food wine, at least now. There is Merlot and Cab Franc in this, but you would not know it. Reminiscent of an 05 Levy-McClellan in the nose and the 01 Neal Second Chance in the mouth. Not for everyone, but for those who like this style, a killer, and probably several points higher than my rating for those individuals.

Huge wine. Heavy, dense, full+ bodied. Not jammy or hot, it was a miracle that everything seemed to hold together. Not my style, but I can see how people could like it. I’d like to try it again in 5-7 years.

Heavy/huge seems like a weird choice, considering the source.

Oddly, this is NOT a food wine at this point. This surprised me given Thomas runs a restaurant. Then again, I am sure young Harlans, Bryants, etc are opened all day long, and those might not be food friendly right now either, so I guess he is just giving the people what they want.

I just call em like I see em

A bit off tangent, but I got to try a white that Keller bought almost all the production of for his restaurants, the 2004 Vare Bianco.

Good, but nothing very memorable. I expected more because of my great respect for Keller.

Got that, I’m just saying considering his foodie profession, he’s made an odd decision to bring out what could be a difficult wine to match with food. I guess considering Noel’s note on the white, maybe he’s just not a wine geek??

Oh, that’s too bad to read…I picked up a 500ml of the 05 just yesterday. Can you elaborate a little Noel?

You know, this has me thinking.

When I see many TNs I am often surprised to see the food matchups. And yet everyone seems to think “it went well with the food.” I think too often people think that “good” food combined with “good” wine means they went well together. But that is not the case. I see many who confused a good food/wine combination with what is separately good wine eaten with good food.

People, this is what I do — private labeling. I’m just glad that there isn’t only one palate!

Roy. Thanks for the note and tip.