2021 - 2050
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2017 Pym-Rae leaps from the glass with bold notions of black cherries, mulberries, plum preserves and dark chocolate with an opulent undercurrent of Indian spices, potpourri, sandalwood and cinnamon stick. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is packed with rich, seductive black fruit preserves and an explosion of exotic spice sparks, framed by firm yet beautifully plush tannins and fantastic tension, finishing very long and achingly fragrant. Possessing loads more weight and mid-palate density than a lot of 2017s, this second showing is an absolute knock-out. Due to strict selection, only around 1500 cases were made this year.
This is only the second vintage off this estate, following the purchase of the old Robin Williams vineyard and house by Chateau Pontet-Canet proprietor Alfred Tesseron back in 2016. As a reminder, the estate includes just under 20 acres of mature Cabernet Sauvignon (75%), Merlot (18%) and Cabernet Franc (7%) vines, planted in 1990. Tesseron named the Estate and wine “Pym-Rae,” in respect for the original name given to the vineyard by Robin Williams (Pym and Rae are the middle names of two of Williams’s children). The site is perched at an average altitude of 1,500 feet (500 meters) on Mount Veeder. Currently, the wines are made at a dedicated cellar up on Howell Mountain, one that I have visited and at which I witnessed the 2016 vintage in production. Thomas Comme, the son of Jean-Michel Comme, the winemaker at Chateau Pontet-Canet, is winemaker and has lived at the vineyard since 2016. As expected, the 2017 was a challenge. Comme mentioned that the Labor Day heatwave spiked at 117 degrees on the property. The vines on the upper part of the estate managed to motor right through, but there was some shut-down amongst the lower vines. No post-fires fruit was used in the blend and so there is no Cabernet Franc in the 2017.