Le Dome 2009 vs. World's End Against the Wind Reserve Cabernet Franc 2009

Same head (Jonathan Malthus). Same Winemaker (Neil Whyte). Same blend (80% Cabernet Franc, the rest Merlot with eventually some Cab. Sauv.). I don't have any clue about differences in vineyard management, clones, yields, age of the vines- so cannot judge on these aspects.

The first comes from St. Emilion, the second from Napa. Both with a >14.5% alcohol, extracted modern garagiste style.

The result? "Le Dome" is a great modern wine, "Against the Wind" is just another modern wine.

If you are skeptical and you think "how on earth someone can make a great (not just good) varietal cab franc wine in Napa?"...well...unfortunately "Against the wind" will not help to change your mind. Even if the back label says that grapes comes from cooler sites (Sugarloaf Mountain and Coombsville), the wine results very hot without counterbalancing structure. Le Dome is big in everything and therefore is balanced. You may like or not this modernist hedonistic style, but the wine comes trough well. The effort of achieving a Napa garagiste cab franc is instead resulting in a unbalanced Agaist the Wind.

Cabernet Franc is about finesse and sensuality. Trying to achieve a blockbuster style is already very risky, everywhere on the planet. In the case of Malthus, this hazardous job has done good results in Bordeaux, but disappointing ones in Napa.

Let's recall where Nature and Men have identified good terroirs for Cab Franc: Loire Valley (very north France); Bordeaux- not because was great, but because was an insurance (in the bad years for left bank and all years for the damper right bank) when the later-ripening Cab. Sauv. had not time to reach full ripeness; recently Canada - yes Canada!

So let's report some tasting notes:

Le Dome is inky black, concentrated, muscular, with tons of fruits but also tons of velvety tannins. Alcohol is high but masked by such a great structure. The wine is lifted by a decent acidity. A great complexity of black fruits, caramel, forest floor, balsamic minty notes, coffee beans, toast, liquorice and a very long finish. The wine needs still years of bottle aging for fully express its potential. Very Good.

Integrity (4.5) - Balance (4.5) - Complexity (4.5) - Persistence (5) - Hedonism (5) - TOT= 4.7/5 

Against the Wind is a shade paler and shifted from black-blue to a more reddish tone w.r.t. Le Dome. Also the nose give this shift impression from blue-black fruits to black-red fruits (blackberries and raspberries), caramel/molasses notes, some coffee and oak notes without any of the complexity of Le Dome. Syrupy and medicinal nose.  In the mouth is fastidiously hot, with good acidity but lean mid palate. Not great tannic structure. I don't think the wine will age well. Medium- finish.
It's a good quality wine, but I was very disappointed especially when the label teases you saying this wine try to aim to Le Dome. So if you wonder why the wine is so much cheaper than Le Dome, the answer is because it tastes much cheaper than Le Dome.

Integrity (4) - Balance (3) - Complexity (2.5) - Persistence (3) - Hedonism (2.5) - TOT= 3/5
Probably it can stand against the wind but not against Le Dome ;-)

Just my personal opinion, of course. 



  1. I thought it tasted very nice, especially after dessert ;-)


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