Rutherford Dust

On my last trip to California's wine country, my wife and I enjoyed a wine tasting at Heitz Cellar; a charming, scenic vineyard set off from the Silverado Trail in the Napa Valley hills.

Our guide poured a tasting of a Cabernet Sauvignons and proceeded to give us his notes. Starting off using descriptors I have heard before, cherries, leather, cigar smoke, American oak.

Then he added, "and a touch of Rutherford dust."

Rutherford dust. That was a new one for me.

He told us that a winemaker coined the phrase to describe the unique flavors of the wine produced in the Rutherford area of Napa. Clean dirt, pencil shavings, and tannins are some of Rutherford dust's characteristics.

In any case, it was delicious.

Most folks most likely enjoy wines from the Rutherford area of Napa and have no idea about the dust, but those who do use the shorthand to communicate and signal that they are in the club.

The cool kids use their secret language and obscured messages to communicate.

Rutherford dust conveys that this wine is unique, but you need to be in the know to appreciate that message fully.

A message that delivers maximum information with minimum packaging: an essential ingredient for creating a cult-like following.

The lack of information makes every person in the know an initiate, and they share and enjoy a mass-produced secret.

What is your Rutherford Dust?