Expensive wine 42: Newton Merlot Unfiltered 2005

It ?s probably too much to call this wine an anachronism, but it is a snapshot of what life was like in a certain part of the wine business just in those warm, sunny summer days before the recession.

The Newton ($40, sample) is Napa Valley wine the way a certain segment of wine drinkers, critics, and retailers thought Napa Valley wine should be ? rich, luscious, ripe, and alcoholic (15.6 percent, believe it or not). It screams ?Give me more than 90 points! ? and descriptors like intense only begin to tell the story.

These days, it ?s more difficult to find wines made this way. The recession played its part, devastating the super-premium wine business. Meanwhile, consumers seem to be tiring of high alcohol, while cooler harvests in California the past couple of vintages have made it more difficult to get wine to taste this way.

For the Newton is distinctive. Though it ?s a huge wine, it is more interesting than others of its ilk, with more balance between dark fruits, silky tannins, and the acid than I expected. Having said that, it needs food, and manly food at that ? big slabs of red meat. Otherwise, after two glasses, you're done. That so many people wanted that sort of thing almost makes me want to wax nostalgic.

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