Tasting the Rubicon
In the decade of my birth, bon vivants were drinking whiskey sours, Tom Collins, and Mai Tais. Fast forward to one of my favorite birthday celebrations—in Maui, with Steph, drinking Mai Tai’s the way they make them at MonkeyPod—with Kula organic silver and dark rums, lime, house-made macadamia nut orgeat, bols orange curacao, and honey-lilikoi foam. It is, singularly, the best cocktail I’ve ever sipped and yes—it’s likely context played a part in this ranking.
The big FIVE O had been on my bucket list since the Brady Bunch episode, “Hawaii Bound,” aired in 1972, the same year Francis Ford Coppola’s film The Godfather was released. Coppola would use the proceeds from the film to finance his purchase of Inglenook Winery which I had the good fortune to visit at the age of 10. I was enthralled by the pristine vines, the tasting rooms, and the old chateau.
In 1978, Inglenook’s flagship red, Rubicon, premiered. Coppola says it was born of a desire to produce, "a wine that can please contemporary taste, but with a historical aspect [that defines] our vineyards at their zenith.” Rubicon is a Bordeaux-style wine—sometimes referred to as Meritage or claret. This simply means it’s a proprietary blend most often based on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, and sometimes Carmenère and Malbec.
I tasted my first Rubicon at a late-winter gathering this year, hosted by our friend Missy, in her lovely home on the Jersey Shore. In the glass, Rubicon was deep and rich in color. Inglenook aptly describes it as “precocious, hedonistic,” and indeed, it is. It is also supple and silky and memorable. You can read the winemaker’s notes on inglenook.com but I encourage you to get a bottle for yourself, let it linger on your palate and enjoy the experience.