Wednesday Wines – Episode 173 – World’s End Preview

The End of the World is Nigh

The name World’s End refers to the district of Chelsea in Jonathan Maltus’s hometown of London. He names his World’s End wines after his favourite rock songs from Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin, and this is because he believes each track beats out an individual rhythm that chimes with the Napa Valley vineyards from where he sources his grapes.  The range includes ‘If Six Was Nine’, Good Times, Bad Times’, ‘Crossfire’, and his proprietary red ‘Rocksteady’. There is even a Chardonnay Reserve entitled ‘Rebel Rebel’.

Beyond the stirring chords in his superb wines, Jonathan’s mantra is the fusion of elite Napa Valley fruit and top-flight Saint-Émilion know-how. You can read about Jonathan’s inspirational portfolio of Maltus wines in my various Bordeaux En Primeur Reports – his recently released 2022s are remarkable. His transatlantic ventures in California have yielded extraordinary wines, and I was very fortunate to receive two preview samples of 2020 reds from his World’s End portfolio. Here are my thoughts and scores.

2020 World’s End, Crossfire, Oakville/Napa Valley, Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper, Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, California

There is considerable presence in the glass here that starts like a Cabernet battering ram and then, over minutes, calms and quietens as the wreckage settles. You are left with sooty, oak tannins, Cabernet skin particles scattered asunder, and bodies of fruit strewn across the furniture, locked in paroxysms of ecstasy. This is a spectacular wine, and it is disarmingly forward. I would venture it will make 20 years if cellared carefully, but it might reach a glorious climax in just five. Beyond the tremendous fruit, it is clear that Jonathan’s roots on the Right Bank of Bordeaux have imbued moments of brightness and lightness among the mayhem, and it is these that your palate clings to while the action happens in every nook and cranny of your olfactory apparatus.  19/20

2020 World’s End, Good Times, Bad Times, Oakville/Napa Valley, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, California

If Crossfire is the IED, Good Times, Bad Times is the epée. This scintillating wine is a model of refinement, and it is noticeably reticent and closed on the palate right now, promising chapters of flavour to follow, given time. I wrote ‘grace and composure’ in my notes, two words I thought I would be leaving in my quiver when I uncorked this masterpiece. But no, this is an intricate and extremely detailed wine despite the scale of the flavour and the undoubted luxury woven into the experience.  I was tempted to nudge it up to a perfect 20, such is the epic balance on display already, but I reserve my right to tweak my score after a year or two when the molecules find their true order and the full array of nuance and grandeur is granted permission to parade.  19.5+/20