2023 - 2033
Riper and substantially more expressive than the 2018, Fortunate Son's 2019 Red Wine The Diplomat is a plush, luscious wine, laden with black cherries, mocha and loam notes. It's full-bodied, rich, velvety and supple, with a lingering finish. Like the previous vintage, it's mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, with a fair whack of Merlot.
Fortunate Son is a Jayson Woodbridge/Hundred Acre offshoot, made using contracted fruit (but which in the past has also included some bits from Hundred Acre lots). Now run by Jayson's son, Cameron, the winery facility is in St. Helena, on the site of the historic David Fulton Winery (established 1860, the first in St. Helena). The 15 acres of vineyards there were replanted in 2021. Woodbridge is fiercely protective of his fruit sourcing, refusing to say, except in the most general terms, where the fruit originates for his Fortunate Sons bottlings. He'll approach family-owned vineyards and pay by the acre (wants low yields), bringing in Jim Barbour to do the farming, with the biggest caveat being that growers can't say to whom they're selling. Woodbridge says he'll pick in several passes, so it can be three or four times as expensive as if the vineyard had been picked all at once. The harvest is cluster sorted in the field, then by cluster again on the table, destemmed and sorted by hand, then through an optical sorter, then again by hand on the way to the puncheon for fermentation in barrel. "Not a single thing makes it through that shouldn't," Woodbridge says. "It's the least profitable line we have, but I drink it." These wines were tasted in February 2023 at Woodbridge's offices in St. Helena. My predecessor gave the 2018s stunning reviews back in December 2021. While my reviews are perhaps not quite as flattering, the wines are excellent, and I think including my reviews of the 2018s will provide context for the even better 2019s, which I've also reviewed here.