Thursday, October 4, 2007

Napa Vintners on Tour - NYC January 23th, 2007

Some impressions of the other notes from the Napa Vintners Assoc tour tasting in NYC. Tuesday, January 23rd.

2004 Blackbird - Singing. Much more refined fruit coming through than back in November at their open house. This has gone from a good bottle to a great bottle. The 2005 is still showing a bit much cab franc for me.93/100

2003 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow - To me this is always the best of the three and this year is no different. There was a 1999 MicroClimate bottling of Volcanic hill. An ok bottle. I expected more. 92/100

1996 Heitz Ink Grade Cabernet- This had tremendous length and class. Deep dark fruits belying its age. Unavailable. Too bad. 93/100

2002 Dyer Cabernet- I loved the purity of this. It had great dark fruit and smooth integrated tannins. Now, the '03 next to it was something altogether different. 91/100

2003 Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet (from Mag)- To this point in the tasting, this was the best '03 that I came across. Silky smooth and delicious. A qpr too! (In this room? Never heard of it). One to seek out. 90/100

A few Merlots;

2002 Sullivan Merlot Reserve - This had all of the big explosive qualities I like in a Merlot. Deep dark red fruits, super smooth tannins, and an acid level deftly present. 93/100

2002 Sullivan Merlot - This was just a notch below in quality, but a very good bottle for the price ($40s). 90/100. The people at Sullivan are doing Merlot right.

Amidst all those lovely Cabs and Merlots were the good people of Saintsbury, pouring their Pinots. These I have overlooked in the past.
The 2005 Pinot Carneros showed amazing fresh pure fruits, with a backbone that carries it all the way to a long elegant finish. Red cherries and violets abound. I like one this a lot. 92/100

This year the vintners were asked to bring something special. Many partake in the Napa Premiere Auction, and brought representative bottles. These are limited bottlings given to the auction by the wineries to auction for medical needs and such for migrant workers. A noble cause indeed. The wines are usually 5 or 10 case runs, and usually the best barrels (or cuvees) available. In the past 3 or 4 years I have been a buyer, but the costs are getting prohibitive. Some beauties were;

2005 Trinchero Stagecoach- Big dark fruits abound. A glorious texture made this on of the best in the room. Available only at auction. 97/100

2005 The Terraces Premiere Cabernet, Quarry Vineyard. This was unique for the day in such it has 6% Zin blended into the cuvee. Smooth and beautiful with just a hint of bramble. I loved this and so did my companions. 97/100

2005 Corison Cabernet- I got to admit, I am usually not a fan of Corisons wines. This one was different. Big plush deep cored fruit wrapped sublimely in tannins. Smooth finish. Wow. 95/100

A great tasting, usually the best of the year. The room probably had 500-600 people at peak, so crowding was evident of the demand to taste these beauties.

2007 Polaner Selections Spring Portfolio -part 2 (US Pinots)

Part 2 - Pinots

2005 Melville Pinot Noir Terraces- Light in color but big in taste. Great cherries and tar. Very Burgundian in style. A crowd pleaser. 3.6/4 (93)

2005 Melville Pinot Noir Carries - A bit more austere and reticent. Fruit is there, just hiding a bit for the moment. Should show well in a few years. 3.3/4 (90)

2005 Radio-Coteau Pinot Noir La Neblina- A very fruit forward Pinot with soft tannins. Smooth and elegant. 3.6/4 (93)

2005 L'Angevin Pinot Noir RRV- Super floral style of Pinot that I vcan love for 10 minutes, then be turned off for the rest of the evening. Silky mid palate. I just don't always know what to make of wines like this. 3.5/4 (92)

2005 L'Angevin Pinot Noir Sonoma Stage- Similar in style to the above, just a bit more lite bodied. 3.5/4 (92)

I also tasted Giacomo Conternos offering, as well as Mas Doix from Priorat.

Either I am missing something, or my palate has changed drastically. I was once a big fan of Barolos.

Priorats leave me with more questions than answers.

Polaner Selections Spring Portfolio 2007

Attended the Polaner Spring Portfolio. My goal at this one is to a; find new and interesting Cali wines and b; check some of my current favorites. I was not disappointed.

I bee-lined to the back room and hit table #55 first, Arnot-Roberts. The complete lineup was amazing.

2005 Arnot-Roberts Syrah Hudson-Deep red fruit forward Carneros District beauty. Smooth seamless tannins. Wow. 3.7/4- (94)

2005 Arnot-Roberts Syrah Griffins Lair-a bit more spice and tannic structure, great mouthfeel. 3.5/4 (92)

2005 Arnot-Roberts Syrah Adler Springs- most northern Rhone like of the group. Dense with some tat, pepper, and bacon fat. 3.6/4 (93)

2004 Arnot-Roberts Cabernet Sauvignon Wild Iris- Amazing fruit forward, smooth but firm tannins complete packaged Cabernet. One of the best in the room, and the room was tough. 3.8/4 (95)

2004 Arnot-Roberts Cabernet Sauvignon Bugay Vnyd- Deep colored and wonderfully balanced pure Sonoma style Cab with tightly spun tannins, a bit unyielding, will show nice in a few years- 3.5/4 (92)

2004 Merus Cabernet Sauvignon- Super smooth tannins with a wonderful acid level envelope the dark fruit climaxing in a super long finish. Elegant. A bit tight but the wow factor is evident. 3.6/4 (93)

2004 Maybach Meterium Cabernet Sauvignon- This is an interesting wine. Smooth and regal, shows much breed. Dark and ultra balanced Cabernet that is well worth the hunt. Chatting with Chris Maybach a bit gave me the sense that these guys are truly dedicated to producing world class cult status, Cabernet Sauvignon. Amazing. 3.8/4 (95)

Juan and Wendell from Realm were both in attendance showcasing barrel samples of 3 Cabernets in their lineup. Always good speaking with these gentlemen.

2005 Realm Cabernet Sauvignon Farella (barrel) - A favorite of mine, this has all the guts of a world class Realm. A bit austere now, it should evolve into something worthy of owning. Dark purple color, smooth firm tannins. A baby with a wonderful pedigree and future. 3.4/4 (91/92)

2005 Realm Cabernet Sauvignon ToKalon (barrel) - Lush and well structured, this Cabernet shows the terroir of Tokalon nicely. The most consistent in the lineup yet. A bit bigger than the 2004, nothing that a few in the bottle won't help though. Then look out, this will be a stunner. 3.6/4 (93/94)

2005 Realm Cabernet Sauvignon Dr. Crane (barrel) - The wine I wanted to try most in the lineup. A middle weight Cabernet with good deep red fruits, and a nice set of bones. This will evolve into an elegant cabernet. 3.4/4 (91/92)

Keep in mind that keeping with Realms early release, these wines are all babies. I can't wait for another try at them in June when Realms open house hits NYC.

2004 Larkmead Firebelle- nice blend 3.4/4 (91)

2004 Larkmead Cabernet Sauvignon- This is always a pleaser. The number one QPR again. Although I think the retail this year will be a bit higher, it will still be worth it if it stays under $50. This opulent fruit forward, ultra balanced Cabernet shows what can be done in good vintages as well as sub-par (2003). 3.5/4 (92)

2002 Philip Togni Tanbark Cabernet- I always like this better than the Spring Mountain bottling, and this year is no different. 3.2/4 (89)

2004 Philip Togni Spring Mountain Cabernet- shame to kill so many trees. N/R

2004 Brookman Cabernet Sauvignon- Great deep color. A good tight grip of tannins wrapping around a core of dark currant, tar, cocoa, and cassis. A lovely classic Napa styled Cabernet made to please. 3.4/4 (91)

Other notable Cabernets;

2003 Black Sears Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain- 3.4/4 (91)
2004 Drinkward-Peschon Cabernet Sauvignon- 3.4/4 (91)
2003 Crocker & Starr Stone Place blend-3.3/4 (90)
2004 Gemstone Facets blend- 3.5/4- I still like last years better. (92)

I would have liked to taste the Harris Estate, but they were not present this year.

Moving onto Syrah.

2005 K Vintners Syrah 'the beautiful'- this is a fruit medley in a glass, there is so much good things happening here it's hard to talk of them all. A unique wonderful Syrah from a super dedicated winemaker with more energy than my son had at 5. 3.6/4 (93)

2005 K Vintners Syrah Cougar Hills- interesting that side by side on the same table two diametrically opposite wines exists. Wonderful old world styled Syrah that has elegance and structure. The fruit lingers as the wines aftertaste goes on for 45 seconds. 3.6/4 (93)

2005 K Vintners the Boy blend- 2.9/4 (86)
2005 K Vintners Syrah Milbrandt-3.1/4 (88)

Meeting Tim Spear for the first time you immediately know he knows what his goals are. He wants to produce a La La on this shore. He is well on the way to figuring it out too. His 2002 Clos Mimi Syrah White Hawk (3.7/4 - 94) is amazing. He explained his treatment to me. The wine shows breed and firm expressive structure not found very often today. One of the top two or three Syrahs in the room. I'm a believer Tim!

Also tasted;

2003 Clos Mimi Syrah Shell Creek - 3.3/4 (90)
2003 Clos Mimi Brave Oak- 3.3/4 (90)

2005 Pax Syrah Cuvee Christine - 3.0/4 (87)
2005 Pax Syrah Obsidian- 3.7/4 (94)
2005 Pax Syrah Walker Hill RRV - 3.2/4 (89)
2005 Pax Syrah Adler Springs - 3.3/4 (90)

2004 Ojai Santa Barbara- 2.9/4 (86)
2003 Ojai Syrah White Hark- 3.1/4 (88)
2003 Ojai Syrah Melville- 3.3/4 (90)

2005 Copain Saisons des L'Hiver Syrah- 3.3/4 (90)
2005 Copain Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch - 3.4/4 (91)
2005 Copain Syrah Harrison Clarke 3.2/4 (89)

I have some Pinot notes I will add later.

Polaner Selections NYC - 3/21/2006

Just back from the Polaner Selections tasting NYC

I must say, there are some very amazing wines out there, and yet there are 20 fold average offerings. You must tread easy and pick carefully, but then you will be rewarded, as I was today. (in order of preference).

2003 Harris Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Jakes Creek- Wow. and amazing sublime etheral wine of tremendous balance. Fantastic deep red fruit. some cassis. Excellent balance. Long long finish. I love this wine. Valley floor Estate grown grapes. One to seek out.

2003 Pax Syrah Castelli -Knight Ranch RRV- If I had a choice to drink one syrah for the rest of my life, this would be it. Deep dark fruit, just the right amount of pepper Long lingering finish. Memorable. I love this wine. A wine all other Syrahs can aspire to.

2002 Larkmead Cabernet Sauvignon Napa- This is truly a beautiful wine. All nose, wonderful smooth tannins, Medium dark fruit with a long smooth finish. This is a wonderful wine that will reward you for years to come.

2001 Westerly Lot 18 Reserve Merlot Santa Ynez- For me to even write about Merlot states something. This wine is big full bodies high octaine plush mouth filling Merlot. But yet seems to balance itself on the head of a pin. Wonderful middle, I love this wine for short term consumption. Now until 2008. My surprise of the day.

2003 Crocker and Starr Cabernet Franc- Ditto my Merlot notes. Cab Franc always dissapoints. I have had a ratio of 30/1-- medicore/good Cab Francs. This is the exception. Pam Starr hits the mark here. The 5% Merlot balances this wine. Big nose, wonderful red fruit. Cassis, nice tannis/acid/oak treatment. This is an amazing wine, from a truly talented winemaker.

2000 Powers Cabernet Reserve- This wine has QPR written all ove it. Wonderful deep dark fruit wrapped u in a nce balance of acid/ tannins. I would love this paired with a big juicy tenderlon. This one will get better fora few and the pay dividends. The days 'sleeper'.

2004 Domaine Saint Benoit Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee XIII- This wine is very old world. Thats the beauty of it Its a tannic oak laden monster that keeps its balance and smoothly delivers. I would love to try this in a few years. It will be amazing! When you taste this you know what all the world wants to replicate.

Some other notables:
2003 Gemstone
2002 Sineann Merlot Hillside
2004 Sineann Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley
2002 Crocker & Starr Stone Place (80% cab, 20% merlot)
2003 Merus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa
2004 Carver-Sutro Petite Sirah Palisades Vineyard Barrel Sample
2001 Clos Mimi Syrah Bunny Slope
2004 Pax Syrah Walker Vine Hill RRV
1998 Conterno Brolo Monfortino

Not a bad afternoon.