Expensive Wine Week Kickoff: The Puzzle

In a departure from the usual fare here at Winethropology, we're dedicating this week to expensive wines.  What threshold are we using?  Outside of restaurants, generally anything above $35 triggers a congenital wallet-clinching reflex.  At least for me. 

So, why cover wines way, way above this price point?  Because special occasions happen all the time and some of you want to go hog wild with the platinum card every now and again.  And maybe, just maybe, they're worth it.  Hopefully these reviews will help guide you in your splurging.  Oh, and the wines were all samples.

We start this week with an impressive, yet previously unknown wine form a well-known producer: Newton Vineyards.  You've probably seen if not enjoyed their affordably priced red label series.  The Chard and Claret are terrific.  But when this elegant, black labeled bottle showed up, it definitely piqued my interest.  Perhaps it'll do the same for you.

2008 Newton Vineyards Red Blend Napa Valley 'The Puzzle' $80
Is it possible for a Bordeaux blend to possess obviousness, structure, and complexity without being a dense powerhouse?  Yes, yes it is.  The Puzzle, a Merlot-dominated Bordeaux blend, is a polished, seamless wine with an air of breeding.  Oak, while very real, rides sidecar to delicate, finely-tuned fruit.  Where many California Bordeaux blends tend to be extracted bombs leaning towards confusion, this age-worthy monolith holds its focus in the company of even higher priced Napa blends and heavy-hitting Bordeaux.  And with food, it soars.  Empirical evidence always trumps theory: in a haughty line-up of pricey reds, The Puzzle was the first bottle to be emptied.