Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2004 Dutch Henry Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Northfork Reserve Chafen Vineyards Hillside Estate (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Dark and ominous in its thickness. Nose of pure black cherry cola. Palate shows a very restrained (at first) black/red fruit profile with some hints of cardamom and nutmeg. Black cherry, creme de cassis, black plum and black berries are in control with a tiny hint of strawberry--a very interesting combo. As this sits it starts be become fragrant and elegant with a wonderful light to mid-weight mouth-feel, almost belying its color. Some violets, cedar and framboise was showing through with some nice dimension and structure; this drank like a wine well above its station tonight; refined, poised, elegant, precise and focused. Long finish made this a winner. Gotta keep an eye out for more. 92pts

2004 Maybach Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Materium (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)

This wine is so in its groove, we need anoth....well you know. Dark and precise Cabernet with black cassis, blackberry and black plums. Hints of creme de cassis, mocha, cardamom and lead pencil run within this ones skin. Pretty and focused. Perfect balance, this middle weight wine shows its breed well in its conveyor-like delivery system and pure joy. I brought this to Berserkerfest NYC and it was the first empty on the table. Enough said. :) 94 pts

Sunday, November 27, 2011

2006 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (USA, California, Napa Valley)

89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. This is large boned and full throttle. Black cherry nose. Intense and pure this has some way to go yet. Black cherries, black cassis and raspberries rule the moment on this. Some dries black fruits in the background, this has nice balance. A bit of Asian spice and cardamom. Long finish keep the fruits fresh and focused. This was the perfect selection for grilled filet mignon on the deck during the balmy 65 degree NYC weekend we so enjoyed after Thanksgiving. A very admirable Napa Cabernet. 91pts

Saturday, November 26, 2011

2000 Switchback Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Peterson Family Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Sweet and slightly over-extracted. Black candied nose with hints of cola, framboise and blackberry jam, but the sweetness controls this ride. Balance is decent and this is fully resolved. A slight hint of 'fabricated wine', this was somewhat sweet creamy textured and pleasing in remembrance of say a good Shiraz. One hour in the decanter seemed to help a bit as this fleshed itself out. This has some redeeming qualities, but even at $40 I feel I have over-paid 87pts

2001 Mitolo Shiraz G.A.M. (Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale)

Color intense burnt umber. Edges show a small amount of age. Nose of stewed black-cherry, Kirsch Royal and espresso beans.Palate has some real nice black fruits highlighted by black-cherries and blackberries. Notes of creamy Kirsch, this is a very pure and focused expression of a ten year old Shiraz. It sometimes borders jammy. Tannins big boned and acidity is flirty, this is quite interesting tonight. Medium to heavy mouth feel with tons of things 'going on'; some minerality, some worn leather and some sweetness. finish is admirable for an Aussie. You will never mistake this for anything else. 89pts

Thursday, November 24, 2011

2001 Grace Family Cabernet Sauvignon Blank Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford)

Dark as night with some lighter reddish edges. Nose of pure eucalyptus and black currant and black raspberries. Palate was intense black fruits wrapped within a perfectly matured profile. Great balance with fully resolved tannins. Some cardamom, some cedar box, some espresso and some exotic spices with a very 'Martha's Vineyard' quality on this, one I did not expect: pure eucalyptus. This had a character all it's own today, very unique and distinctive, this is interesting, thought provoking and rambunctious all at the same time. Finish went long, wine got lots of discussion. Loved it. 93pts

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

1997 Von Strasser Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain (USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain)

Black. Real black. Nose of dried reddish-black fruits. Palate has the drying quality with some black cherries, pomegranate and red raspberries. It's an interesting wine that initially shows some promise, but falls short. It shows some purity and balance is very decent. Tannins are fully resolved. There's notes of worn leather, cedar and cola. Hints of graphite and menthol. Finish is admirable. The distraction is solely the mouth pucker.
PS- Time treated this one nicely. 3 hours open and it rounded out and plumped up a bit losing most of the dryness. Its actually quite nice now. 90pts

Sunday, November 20, 2011

2009 Congruence Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Tasted at the release party on 11/19/2011.
Double decanted 3-4 hours in advance.
I must say I have always been a fan of Steve's wines since inception and this one does not disappoint. Its super fragrant with a heady dose of Petite Verdot coming through nicely. (Amazing how only 5% can do that). This is the most structured and backward of the three vintages. Black fruits of black cherry, small dense blackberries and cassis with an interesting brambly quality. Long and focused with a complicated array of tannins. Be kind and give this a year at least. It will pay dividends. 92pts

Thursday, November 17, 2011

2002 Marco Di Giulio Cabernet Sauvignon Mark K Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain)

30 minute decant. Nose is classic Napa Cabernet with the requisite (in my mind) creme de cassis, currant and framboise. This is pure and focused with some cool & sweet cocoa covered blackcherries and black raspberry. There is some exotic black fruits and a hint of graphite and menthol. Elegant and power all in one, this really brings on the depth and layers that I truly like. Balance is very decent with the acidity flying just a wee-bit high, but this is not a negative thing in this, tonight. Long finish keeps the black fruits going. The more you sit with this, the more you find in it, and it's all good. Grabbed these for a song, and will keep my eyes open for the 'tune' to come around again. 92pts

Monday, November 14, 2011

2002 Double Diamond (Schrader) Cabernet Sauvignon Mayacamas Range (USA, California, Sonoma County)

Black with nose of infused black cherry and violets. This comes in dense and firmly packed with tons of black fruits first and foremost being black currants. After about 15 minutes this was soft but not flabby with tannins nearly fully resolved. Balance was deft. Light notes of graphite, cola, leather and cedar were in the mix as well. Apart from being just a wee-bit one dimensional, this really showed well tonight. It went long and remained true to itself. An admirable showing indeed. 90pts

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2005 Kenzo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Ai (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Pretty and pure is what this is all about. Nose of dried red currant and red raspberries with hints of exotic spices, forest floor and sassafras. Deftly balanced with a light to mid-weight mouthfeel. No hard edges. No plush, no gush, no gob and not showy, this just delivers its breed and elegance, the sort that is not so often seen these days. Strangely, when food hit the table this went dry and somewhat astringent, but came back alive once it became the center piece again, going slightly darker now. This is one of the most polished wines I have had all year. Just an incredible wine, and I won't hold the food thing against it. 94 pts

2001 Sherwin Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District)

Pop and pour. Dark in color with edges a bit red, this was totally open and ready for business. Nose of red fruits with cherries and cassis. Palate showed some aged wine stuff of cedar box, tobacco and worn leather. There was a hint of forest floor. Pure and fully integrated, this was near perfectly balanced. Somewhat Bordeaux-like, it's one of those wines that appeals to both old world and new world guys. Pretty and precise with a finish that remained consistently red fruited. After an hour or two in the decanter it got softer and just a wee-bit thinner. I would not hold these too much longer---if I owned anymore that is. 91 pts

2006 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Some Days Are Diamonds (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Wine good. Dark. Chewy. Plush. Full. Intense. Pure. Balanced. Long. Pleasing.
Mike like, still. 92 pts

2001 Hartwell Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District)

Decant for 1 hour. Nose is all cassis and black cherries. The palate shows pure black fruits with loads of lead pencil, kirsch, framboise and juicy black fruits of currant, black cherries and black pomegranate. A very nicely structure that demands your attention. Phenomenal mouth feel that is all elegance and class. Near perfect lithe acidity and a tannin base that really can go many more years. Long black fruit filled finish that never wavers from its black fruit profile. A real stunner. Wish I brought this to CLONYC 28, the 2001 Napa Cab tasting. 93 pts

2000 Ojai Syrah Santa Barbara County (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County)

ose of pure ripe blackberries and black currants. Palate shows a very pure and focused Syrah that has tons of black fruits. There is some red raspberries, pomegranate and Kirsch Royal. Balance is near perfect with tannins nearly fully resolved. Acidity it fresh and bouncy. There is a nie minerality with this one and a real 'roundness' approaching plushiness that really pleases as well as a pretty sarsaparilla quality I like. Taken into account the price paid ($15) I have to say. Wow. 93 pts

2008 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Some Days Are Diamonds (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Black and opaque. The nose is warm blackberry pie with some primary youthful wine qualities. Palate shows much plushness with a entirely black fruit profile that hits all the major players and is densely packed and rambunctious. A wall of TRB comes at you and there is no mistake who had his two hands in this wine. Medium weight and actually quite deft when you take into account its youth, source and overall style. There is some dark chocolate, graphite shavings and rubber new leather with some violets and macerated black plum skins.Nicely balanced and full nearly as full throttle as its older sibling, if anything maybe lacking in just a wee-bit of dimension, but what do you want for $22. Long finish as you would expect, this will only get better and drink really well for the next 4-5 years. When you take into account the price point of this wine and the goodness it delivers, it won't take you long to call the the QPR of the year. 92 pts

2006 Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Reserve (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Pop and pour, just through a Vinturi. (as read on a late note via Cellartracker)
Pretty black fruits of currant & black cherries. Pretty with notes of spring flowers and warm river stones. Medium weighted wine that was well balanced and long on the finish. Last glass sans vinturi: different wine. Angular and somewhat awkward now with some bramble and minerality toward the back palate that nears distraction. It started as a 90 and went to an 87. Before I was looking for a case. Now? Not so much. Viva la Vinturi! 89 pts

2002 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)

Last bottle. Great showing. Classically Mondavi. Deep and dark, near viscous. Nose of subdued rose petals, black currant and ripened blackberries. Palate has the black fruit profile I love concentrating of the more traditional genre: Black currant, black raspberries and hints of black plum pumice. There is some lead pencil, cedar-box, cocoa powder and cola. Tannins still alive and in charge, but the main character in this and most good Mondavi wines of a bygone era is the acidity: Mr Mondavi had always strived for a food friendly wine when he made his Cabs, and this reflects the devotion and success. This mediuam weight wines deserves a thick medium rare sirloin with all the fixings. A wonderful expression of a wine that made me fall in love with Cabernet oh so many years back; before Herold, Brown and Hirby hit the scene. (all great winemakers of today, BTW....... and point added for nostalgic effect.) 93 pts

2006 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Needs an hour in the decanter, minimum. Nose of sweet blackberries and black raspberries with a wispy note of black currant. One taste reveals a plushness, richness and a bit of gobbiness. Tannins are erect and super-present and acidity pronounced nicely. This is not a shy wine. There is some dried herbs, spring flowers and vanilla bean. Precise and abundant, this needs a few more years to really evolve into something special. It had shed some of its appealing (to me) baby fat and might be in a slumber stage. I will hold my 750s until 2013, and I recommend you do the same. 92 pts

2005 Henschke Shiraz Tappa Pass (Australia, South Australia, Barossa)

Pop & pour, (screw top).
Super dark. Truly opaque. Deep dark fruits of blackberries and ripe black-cherry on the nose. Palate shows much the same with added black cassis cocoa powder and cardamom. A regal wine that screams class. Mid palate shows a sweet & creamy richness. Tannins are pretty well behaved and seem to be resolving nicely and overall balance is pretty good. Long finish completes this one nicely. A very pleasing wine that fit the bill perfectly for a lazy Sunday at home. 91 pts

2000 Andrew Murray Syrah Roasted Slope (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley)

Consistent with my last note, this shows a sweet red/blue fruit profile with hints of burnt caramel. It has not been my favorite Andrew Murray to date. Did the roasted slope bit have to be so.....literal? 88 pts

2007 Round Pond Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford)

I actually dislike the word delicious, but need to use it here. This wine is pure and simply delicious. Pretty nose of fresh cherries, kirsch, and spring flowers. Palate has such a purity, we need another....well, you know. It is lush and bursting at the seams with all There is the freshest fruit profile I have encountered all year; fantastic red-black currant, cherries, sweet red raspberry, blackberry liquor and more. Hints of graphite, vanilla, framboise and love. The love comes in many forms, too many to pinpoint. Balance is impeccably deft with large but well behavin' tannins. Acidity rides a wee-bit high, but it is almost needed with this, now, here, tonight. If I said it before, I will unabashedly repeat it: it's a pretty wine, very pretty. A super finish keeps really rounds this one out like the moon at 'harvest moon' time of the year. Just incredible. 95 pts

2000 Colgin Cariad (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Medium red in color with pretty crimson edges. Nose of dried red fruits with the forefront being cherries. The palate shows very refined and pure, and a low key elegance that showed breed and femininity. There is some warm-earth and dried red fruits and more of a red raspberry/cherry as well as some red currant components. Some dried tea leaf, worn leather, and spring white flowers become evident. As time passed, any variances from these first impressions were minute, maybe just a gaining of a bit more mid-palate weight as well as a softer tannin attack, but those tannins do seem fully resolved and impeccably balanced. Classically structured and such a beautiful (not to mention welcomed) Cabernet-blend expression from such a dismal year in the valley. Just Fantastic. 94 pts

2008 Elizabeth Spencer Cabernet Sauvignon Special Cuvée Napa Valley (USA, California, Napa Valley)

So, yeah, it's primary, shoot me. Nose of red cherries and red plums with hints of red currant. Not a bruiser and certainly more of the feminine variety of Napa Cab. It's pretty and pure with a bright & plushy light to medium weight mouth feel. Attack is focused and precise, this has some new leather, warm cinnamon and a quaint hint of lead pencil shavings. Nice balance with a nice red fruited finish. Although I knew going in this was a youngster, I am glad to see what's in it, sort of my sneak preview. For $20 per half, I may stock up a bit for drinking beyond the new year. Decant now and enjoy. 91 pts

2007 Myriad Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)

This was chocolate malted squared. Red fruits masked with some gobbiness and a bit messy overall. Difficult to get a good read on this one tonight. 2007 Cabs have not been kind to me. Not sure what else I can say. n/r

2002 Domaine Georg Rafael Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder)

Always the dark horse/left fielder and always a winner. This Farella made wine just brings it; it might not be loud and it might not stop the show, but deliver it does. Reddish black fruits with purity and poise. Somewhat in between the classic/new Napa style. Some great hints of leather saddle, graphite and espresso. A long finish completes this nicely. My #3 on the night. 92 pts

2002 St. Helena Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Sympa Napa Valley Reserve (USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena)

Now we are firmly in new Napa territory. A Mark Herold hay-day wine, this had a solid black wall of fruits with cassis and pomegranate first and foremost. Big boned with a plush vanilla infused mouthfeel with exotic tea, pencil shavings and cola. Near perfect balance. This was a bit more of a bruiser than the KL.. Those same Francophiles were now running for 'zee hills'… 93 pts

1992 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Alexander Valley (USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley)

Right into it, this reminded me of a Beringer Reserve of the same era, and I am not quite sure why. It has some sweet eucalyptus with pretty black fruits. Some framboise and cherry herring was in this mix too. Great balance with a classically sexy mouthfeel. Long finish. Very nice indeed. 91 pts

2008 Kistler Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley)

Pale straw in color, this had some pure lemongrass notes
with a tinge of honey. A beautiful fragrant fruit filled medley that
always stayed precise and focused. Some minerality but the purity was
really in charge here. After a moment of what I thought was some back-end funk blew off, this just had perfect balance and floated across the
palate ever so gracefully.. A fantastic way to start the evening.

1989 Quail Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (USA, California, Napa Valley)

This had a very cool climate Cab feel and I pegged it as a Northern California and certainly not from Napa. Interesting green profile which subsided as it sat. Some reddish black fruits and an overall ‘better than $10’ feel, this was pleasant and fun to drink. Glad to have it in the lineup. 89 pts

1984 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain (USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain)

An interesting old wine which has given up any fruit it might have once had. It had some dryness with hints of lead pencil, brown sugar and cedar. A shadow of itself, but it is always great to taste a mid 80s classic like this. The nights ‘Francophiles’ enjoyed this one more. Go figure? 88 pts

2001 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Morisoli Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley)

This is one consistent bottle of pure cab love. Black berries, currant, hints of cola and crème de cassis, this had an underlying sweet fruit profile that one never tires of. Tannins are nearly resolved and nary a hard edge can be found. A lithy balance, this had elegance, precision and grace. Showed just as beautiful as it did last month at CLONYC 27, the Karl Lawrence Reserves dinner. 94 pts

2001 La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon Anniversary Release (USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain)

An interesting little wine with style and class. (I've always wanted to write that!)
This is dark. This is full of juicy black berries. Nose shows pure black fruits with some reserve. Palate has the blackness with an added dimesnion (or headiness?) of sassafras, bramble and cinnamon. Hints of lite cocoa powder and spice-box with a bit of lead pencil. This gets redder as the minutes go on. Turns to a more cherry-cola thing, and THAT'S where the interest comes in. Finish has a slight tartness but all-in-all this is a pretty evocative and enjoyable wine made more in a classic style. 90 pts

2005 Enzo Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Tierra Roja Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)

A pretty red and black currant is the nose with hints of sour cherry. Palate shows the sour cherry in the front with a hint of dryness. After about an hour this integrates into a nicely balanced cab with notes of ripe strawberry, red plum and cassis liqueur. Tannins are aligned and acidity carries a lite bounce. The finish lasts a bit. I like this better after the hours wait. A great deal for $30 and I would not hesitate if I ever see it again for a comparable price.

Went well with a tricky dinner of sautéed pork chops and home made marinated cherry peppers, and that must mean something in itself... 91 pts

2004 Hewitt Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford)

Yes it's dark. Yes it's opaque. The nose is pure black currant with black cherry jam. Some licorice and violets are in that mix. Palate shows some plushiness with abundant black fruits for 3 wines. Pretty and pure with poise and balance. Currants, cola, black cherries, blackberries and Kirsch with some slight hints of cedar, espresso bean and tobacco. There may be a slight note of dryness right beyond the mid-point. This really is a great Cabernet nonetheless. One I wish I had more of... 92 pts

2004 Rockledge Cabernet Sauvignon The Rocks (USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena)

I am obviously in the minority here, but that's never bothered me before. I love this wine.
Some wines take different routes to get to where they are going, others stay true and sure, hardly ever budging. This is the latter.
It's super dark and still ominous. Nose is all dark fruits of black-cherries, currant, and soft ripe super-black plums. The cola notes are in play as is some creme de cassis and cardamom. Pure and precise while being classic and gripping, this remains the cab lovers cab. Masculine and bordering a heavy weighted wine, this has gripping tannins---still, with a slightly elevated acidity; this seems about right for such a big boned wine and without this could easily fall apart. Notes of graphite, cedar box and hints of exotic tea leaf really make this a well balanced wine that carries much interest within its suit of armour. Finish remains lively with the dark fruits never wavering for pole position. This is really a satisfying Napa Cabernet. Last tasted with Mike Hirby when he visited with the CLONYC gang back in October, 2009. This has barely moved an inch since..... 93 pts

2005 Maybach Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Materium (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)

Nose is intense with dark black-cherries wrapped in cola. There is some pretty Framboise as well. More structure than my last visit, this shows real breed and presence. Pure with hints of vanilla, cocoa powder, black cherry, some black raspberry compote. Great mouth feel with chewy tannic backbone, slightly elevated acidity and a long black fruit finish. This could have used a 2 hour decant. Hey hurricane Irene, I hate you. 92 pts

2007 DeLille Cellars Syrah Doyenne (USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley)

This is an interesting Syrah that needs some patience. I say so because it was somewhat messy out of the gate (5pm). By 8pm this is rocking on all cylinders. Its pure and focused with some slightly gobby blue/black fruits showcasing blueberries and raspberries. The nose is awesome! Smells like a perfect Syrah party with those fruits showing and then some: black cherries, red currants and cola. There is a hint of violets and other spring flowers. Intense lushness on the palate with a very admirable medium-weight attack with texture and finesse. Long and true to itself, this should be fantastic in a bunch of years. How many? I might say 4 or 5. What remains on the palate long after the fruits are gone is a hint of spice. Gotta love these. 91 pts

2006 Realm Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Farella Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Opened 1 hour in advance. Purple tinged edges on a deep almost opaque red/black background. Nose of pretty cardamom infused black currants and black cherries-- Interesting. Palate shows breed right off the bat with intense purity of black fruits: currant, black cherry and blackberries are all here. This has so much life ahead of itself. Elegance wrapped in iron with minute hints of lead pencil, warm vanilla and worn leather. Tannins have not resolved enough to fully appreciate this and time is not on its side for a decent decant since it still it is delicious and will still be a great near-lazy Sunday afternoon of steak sandwiches, fries and awesome Cabernet. Balance is deft and all things good are really in the wings just waiting. I hope my last 3 hold out. Mike Hirby would smile upon tasting this one right now and it has his name all over it. Well done! 94 pts

2006 Vineyard 29 Cabernet Sauvignon Cru (USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena)

Huge and unrelenting. 30 minute decant.
This has purity and intensity on its side. Not giving too much now. I get black cassis driven mocha with tart plums and boysenberry with some sour cherry and huge tannic structure and that's about it.. It might be in a dumb phase right now. I never (hardly ever) say this: I think I opened this one too early. Like 5 years too early. Oh well, live and learn?!? Not!
Needs a LOOOOOONG decant if you venture these ways soon. Long. 90 pts

2002 Quintessa (USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford)

Pretty dark carmine with brownish edges. Nose of cardamom, red currant, and red cherries. Palate shows a fully resolved and somewhat complicated reddish fruits profile with nice plushness and hints of menthol, flowers, and worn leather. There is some underlying lead pencil shavings with a touch of scorched earth and damp forest floor, complete with fallen acorns. :)
Finish goes on with all the fruits components remaining in play. Mid-palate shows a darker fruited side with cola and cedar box.
This is near perfectly balanced with a really lilt weight to it. My 10th of 12 bottles, and this has certainly evolved into a warm cuddly wine.
Held up well and fully enjoyable. Should compliment dinner of quails on spinach with rosemary potatoes really well, if it last that long......93 pts

2004 Scholium Project Scythia Donati Vineyards (USA, California, Central Coast, San Benito County)

Pop & pour. This explodes from the glass as you pour it!! It smells like a creamy, brambly and complicated wine. Nose continues with some red cherries, blueberry pie with cool blue underlying fruits. With some talk of late about 'complexity' in wines, this brings a boatload. Mid-palate is long and creamy textured. There is some warm rivers stones and violets on the mix here; the tannins are complicated and resolving nicely (not that they have ever been problematic). Overall balance is spot-on. A long finish where the blue/red fruits remain in control ends this amazingly appealing wine. Probably my 12th or 13th bottle and this just has not disappointed yet (1 had been corked). 95 pts

2004 Frazier Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (USA, California, Napa Valley)

1 hour decant. Somewhat tired color of burnt umber. This had some pretty red fruits dominated by cherries and raspberries. A decent light to medium weighted wine that was nicely balanced and fully resolved. Some camphor, spring flowers and cedar box was present as well but as it sat longer a sweeter almost annoying characteristic dropped by. Not the best showing of this one by far. The hands of time have been cruel to this 2004 Cab, as is what I have been seeing more and more of late. 88 pts

2005 Jones Family The Sisters (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Opened 1 hour. Not decanted. Dark and unwavering on the nose. You really need to coax this to get some fruit on the nose. Then you get some black fruits of blackberries and black currant. This has always been stingy in the nostril area. Palate shows more fruit and some lush cool cola with some black plum and violets. It had actually re-emerged slightly from my last visit. It is a medium weighted elegant cabernet based wine with hints of goby-ness. What has also emerged here is some Kirsch Royal. The tannins are huge and the acid just a notch higher than expected. Finish is super long. Love me a long finish.
Pure and precise, this is still an admirable drink ‘o wine. Not quite up to the 2006 standards, but on its own, this is a good performer with a tale to tell, at least to those will to listen. 93 pts

2001 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Morisoli Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley)

This had the darkest fruit profile with the most backward attack of this group. Tremendous mouths feel with a lilty balance. Tannins were complicated and at full attention, this danced over the tongue like a ballerina on steroids. Of the group, this was most in my immediate wheelhouse. Long finish kept the fruits alive. 3 people had this as their number 1. I had it as my WOTF. 95 pts

2004 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)

1 hour decant. Nose of black currant and cola. Palate shows some nice purity. Good black fruits of currants and black cherries and blackberries with some cola. With some coaxing you get some additional depth and pizzazz. There is more than expected amount of sediment with this tonight. Balance is nice. This has some hidden elegance. I think this may be in a slightly dumb stage, (I lived through the 70s, so I know how it feels). Finish is longish with the fruits never really quitting. This is slightly two dimensional really just ‘correct’, not more, not less. I think worth the $40 I had paid. 90 pts

2005 Elyse Cabernet Sauvignon Morisoli Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Pop & poured. Dark colored with an almost mysterious opaque depth. Nose of bing cherries with some sarsaparilla. The nose is bright and inviting. The palate reveals some darker fruits of cassis and macerated blackberries. The nose screams Morisoli with it's sweet & creamy presence. There is much going on here, so bear with me; a plushy mouth-feel which hints of cardamom and velour; a multi-layered attack with purity and focus; leather, lead pencil, pomegranates and Kirsch Royal come to mind. There is a sweetness that remains from inception to finish, and a resurgence of cherries, just now of the blacker variety. Balance is near spot on while tannins are huge and in so need of resolving. Reminds me a bit of the '08 Charlie’s Patch I had last month. A long finish keeps this fresh and lively with just a wee hint of drying. A fantastic QPR, I might have to find a few more and bury them. Yeah, as if that helps. 92 pts

2006 Myriad Cellars Syrah Las Madres Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros)

Nose of sweet blackberries and blueberry. This starts with some intensity. Black & blue fruited with some purity and finesse, I get some pepper and bacon fat on the midpalate has a metallic edge that comes off a little sour as it goes to finish. It then turns messy and unfocused. I expected more form such a heralded fruit source. Keeping what Mr. Michael Twelftree told me in mind: "It's all about the finish...." 87 pts

2006 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Charlie's Patch (USA, California, Napa Valley)

This is now officially.....asleep. Shhh.

2007 Snowden Cabernet Sauvignon The Ranch (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Within the last line of my previous note, you will find this little nugget of wisdom: "Should drink well for the next 6 or so years.", so what do I do? I open one 375 days later, that's what.
30 minute decant. The color is intense and deep carmine. The edges show youth in all its glory. The nose shows pretty cola, lead pencil, black currant and black berries. There are hints of violets, clove and blueberry pie. Interesting. I find this more giving and lovely today than my last outing with it. I also find some drying in the mid-palate which worries me a tiny bit. Mouth-feel is plushy and medium weight with a deftly balanced amount of acidity. Tannins are humongous. In re-reading my last note, I can say the iron glove/velvet fist thing really is in play here--or is it iron fist/velvet glove? Anyway, it's here. Here is also where you find a longish finish and overall purity that almost makes up for the drying/alcohol thing. Almost. The Mike on my left shoulder says 91. He's the devil-Mike. On the other shoulder sits a 92. I feel like honoring the latter tonight because, hey, it's Friday. 92 pts

2002 Rudd Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown Oakville (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)

A five grape Bordeaux styled blend (78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec) hailing from Oakville, this shows some real nice breed and class. Its color shows slightly bricking on the edges. The nose is all Bing cherries and red currant with hints of cassis. The palate shows a deep red fruit leaning profile of the aforementioned Bing cherries and currant, but brings some real nice red raspberries. There is some lead pencil and some tar, with hints of cedar and oak. There is a finely delineated flush mouth feel with tiny hints of ‘gobby’ fruit--very typical of vintage. Tannins are involved and a bit showy with the acidity standing slightly above. A long and perfectly balanced finish. If served blind, I might have called this one Bordeaux today. I think Parker nailed this as it does come across as a Napa version of top-flight Pauillac. It really is a beautifully elegant and classy wine and an expression of Oakville I don’t see too often these days. 91 pts

Saturday, November 12, 2011

2004 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Syrah Dry Stack Vineyard (USA, California, Sonoma County, Bennett Valley)

Dark with a liqueur-like nose of fresh blueberry compote and black cherries. On pop & pour this showed a bit reticent, but within 5 minutes it bloomed to life and the word on this is 'joy'. It's pretty and floral with hints of sassafras, raspberries, kirsch, white pepper and root beer in the nose. It's exotic and intoxicating; nicely balanced and pure with tons of life left in it. Tannins are chewy and purity reins. Finish goes on and on. I am now finding white flowers in here too and am really liking this one today. A perfect mid-fall treat and a 'true find' on WB for $15. 92pts

Friday, November 11, 2011

1995 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)

Edges show some age, but the overall color is still strong for a 16 year old. Nose is bright red fruits of red currant and bing cherries. Palate shows a pretty red fruit Cab with hints of cardamom, tobacco, cedar and damp earth. Balance is decent and this is fully resolved and ready to enjoy alongside a nice piece of red meat. This could be a bit 'longer in on the tongue' and bring more dimension than it does, and while it certainly will never win any contest for 'Best in Show', it is what it is: A quiet 'Friday at home with the Missus' and 'just filled 8 bags with leaves' type of Cabernet. (an extra point for 'the effort'). :) 90pts

Friday, November 4, 2011

2005 Pillar Rock Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District (USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District)

Dark, yes. Nose: sweet cassis, black cherry and kirsch royal. Black fruit attack on the tongue; Unfortunately, there is a lot of drying as well. I was hoping that by letting this sit in the decanter would have brought it out more. After 2 hours this remains one dimensional and hallow centered. Too bad as I sense this had many of the components of a good to great wine, but falls short. My score reflects hope for an emergence of sort; we still have that...... 88pts

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2001 Girard Red Wine (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Interesting nose of cocoa and cherry. Palate brings in dense chewy currant with a super plush mouth-feel. A polished showing of a very attractive 2001 cab blend. Some sweet fruit evident. Tannins are fully resolved with not a rough edge to be found. Acidity rides a bit high. Midpalate shows the slightest bit of dryness and some wood become apparent. Finish goes long with all the red fruits in tow. Grabbed this over the summer from LastBottle for $22. Well worth the tariff. 90pts

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2006 Sans Permis La Petite Colline (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County)

So, the FEDEX guy drops this off at 4pm, why not open one when I arrive home at 5? (you couldn't come up with a reason either, huh?)
Nose is all pure strawberries and cherries. Palate is very pure and focused and pretty. Nice balance, red fruits and more. Cedar, soy and earth (not too much!). Tannins are chewy and acidity spot on. The key to this is its lush-pure mid-palate. Finish last a long time. I tried these based on the winemaker alone (false I find) and I am happy I did. Grabbed from LastBottle last week and wish I had bought more. 92pts

Friday, October 28, 2011

2000 Seavey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Nose is pure and focused with red-black fruits high-lighted by black cherry and black currant, and spring flowers. Pretty spring flowers. There is a creamy cola note peeking out as well. Palate shows a pretty and elegant wine thats balance defies the vintage which it hails from. Purity is really key here. There is a certain breed that really plays well here; lead pencil, worn leather and slight cedar-box is present. This has the lilty acidity that does well with food. I am shocked that such a great wine can come from such a disaster vintage. The really has enjoyment on its side. If I had to find a flaw (and really now, must I?), there is just a hint of mid-palate dryness that really does not distract. Finish really goes long and those fruits stays alive, long time. One of the best 2000s I have had, ever. 92pts

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2000 Two Hands Shiraz McLaren Vale (Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale)

Some browning on the edges give away its age. Nose is all infused blueberry and cherries. Palate shows a fully resolved and pure-plush Shiraz with cherry-cola, the new recipe. Lots to really like here: pure and large boned but this weightlifter knows its needs to behave. Tannins are in full bloom and acidity runs a tad high, but does not really distract from the joy this brings tonight. Deep black hole of blackberries, black raspberries and black plum, with a light note of of blueberry compote. There is also worn leather and just a hint of spiciness,....just a hint. The key to this wine, and it's obvious is the ability of the wine-maker to bring this wine to the precipice of something else, something that would possibly not appeal as much. They have evoked the full soul from these grapes. There is no mistaking this for anything but what it is. It will not make you think California. You know where you are with this and also embrace it for what it isn't as much as what it is: It's Shiraz, here it roar. Kudos goes out to Mike and Rich on this, the inaugural vintage of their Two Hands Shiraz. 92pts

Friday, July 8, 2011

1999 Fox Creek Shiraz Short Row (Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale)

What a wonderfully, fully resolved and just so nicely balanced Shiraz from McLaren Vale.
This was floral nosed with blue/black fruits of blackberries and black cherries with some currant and blackberries. A hint of cocoa with some damp forest floor, complete with wet pine-needles. A wonderful expression of Shiraz that really over-delivers, this had a hint of sweetness with a light-medium weight mouth-feel with a velvet glove delivery that really made this....rock. Near perfect balance and a perfect Thursday night drop. Great QPR too! 91 pts

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

2005 Switchback Ridge Petite Sirah Peterson Family Vineyard

OK, rubber, meet road. If you do not like big black fruited and ominous wines, please stop reading. This wine should come with a defibrillator.Still wtih me? Good, because this is a really nice wine to sit and contemplate with. It will show itself on its terms, not yours. Blackberries, black raspberry, dark plum, black currant, its all in there, and more. The fruit medley is enough to make your nutritionist happy. All deeply woven and pure with no gobbiness or heavy-handedness (16.4%!). Big structure with lots of stuffing hanging on those bones, there is some warm apple compote, leather, tar, hints pf white pepper, and spring flowers. On the night, this gained some redder fruits and total cohesion of all parts, I wish I had paid even closer attention. Long and pure, count me as a fan.I find many of these Petite Sirahs right up my alley lying somewhere between my 'dearly beloved' Napa Cab and my 'mistress', Cali Syrah. 93 points

2004 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve

The nose is intense with pure red and black fruits exploding from the glass. The palate shows ripe black and red currant, black cherries, blackberries, boysenberries and more. There is a hint of cola and some real nicely welcomed minerality present. The purity is insane as is the balance. It is true to the vintage, with a slight 'fatness' that I really really like. It has some lead pencil, creme de cassis (Kirsch) and some Cherry Herring Liqueur. This is both elegant and wildly rambunctious all at the same time.. The finish is nutty long, with those fruit notes just continuing on and on. I like the combo of vintage typicity with the hallmark Beringer Reserve profile. I grabbed a bunch of these last month for a song, and glad I did.

Friday, July 1, 2011

2000 Andrew Murray Syrah Roasted Slope (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley)

Some age showing in the color. Nose of sweet cola, blackberries and kirsch. Palate shows same and then some; nice warmish blueberry tart w ith a hint of cinnamon, river stones, some flintiness and tar with a ever so small hint of steamed meat. This really performs well above expectations. It has a fully resolved tannic structure with some really lilty acidity. Long and pure, if I had to find a flaw, there may be a hint of heat, may be. Fifteen dollars never went down so....easy. BIG difference from my last bottle purchased at the same moment....BIG. 90 pts

2001 Ruston Family Cabernet Sauvignon La Maestra (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Pretty nose of lead pencil shavings, black cassis Color is an 'advanced' stage, but not old. The palate has a sweet reddish black medley of fruits with cassis and red cherries up front and pomegranate and red raspberries in the background. Some worn leather and hints of tobacco and cedar box really add dimension. There is a hint of cola and early spring flowers, you know, like the ones you really notice after winter. Balance is perfect with tannins evolved and resolved to cabfection (don't look it up. It's not there). A long finish keeps the fruits in motion all while crescendoing nicely.
I really love how this is showing on this night. I wish some of the wines I had last night showed like such. 93 pts

2003 Double Diamond (Schrader) Cabernet Sauvignon Mayacamas Range (USA, California, Sonoma County)

And it's still vibrant yet. (open 30 minutes) The nose is all pretty cherry cola and red raspberries with cardamom and soil. The nose is incredibly focused with deep plushy fruits. This is pretty consistent with my last note. There is some red/black fruits of currant and cherries with plum pumice and hints of Kirsch. Balance is decent with the lean toward acidity heavy. Tannins are resolved and all in this this really is an incredible deal for what I paid. ($15).
I really can't find much to fault this other than being slightly foursquare and lacking just a bit more elegance, but for what it is, it is (and it is a 2003 Napa Cab). I score this 91 in for its QPR value tonight. I will keep my eyes open for----more. Thomas really does rock.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2004 Scholium Project Scythia Donati Vineyards (USA, California, Central Coast, San Benito County)

Fathers day----dad's choice. This was as amazing as always. Its pure, dark and full of good.....Syrah stuff. Still youthful, this seems to be moving about as quickly as the glaciers, and that's ok. Other than that, my other 6 notes here on sums it up about right. 95 pts

Saturday, June 25, 2011

1997 Château Latour Grand Vin (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

Served blind. Not sure how long it was decanted, but it was. A pretty garnet color with hints of age. Nose said most definitely bordeaux, ok, lets' play. This had some nice fruits both red and black with some pure cassis and blackberry, but the real story on this was it's elegance, finesse and purity. It had some soil, leather and a hint of tar. There was some lead pencil in the background as well. A long finish kept be beckoning me for more. Time to place feet in mouth, but strangely I did ok on this night: I said older bordeaux maybe 15 years and from Pauillac! Most surely left bank and knowing the host, a possible ringer fro a First Growth. I then changed my Guess of age to older, maybe an 1986 or 1989. Unveil and yes sir, let me try it again!

1999 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select (USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District)

After having the 2001 SHS on Thursday and it showing as It did which was good, just not great I was happy to peek in on this one.
It had soem real pure black fruits with some kirsch and cola, but there was some real evident vanilla as well. usually I can deal with oak, but sometimes it is so noticeable, I have to call it out: This was a bit oaky. It had nice mouth-feel and purity with some pretty floral notes. I think this has not fully resolved, but tannins on this night we in check and well behaved. Some good acidity and a longish finish completed this nicely, I just wanted....more, so shoot me. 90 pts

2001 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Herb Lamb (USA, California, Napa Valley)

These are all about the nose. I opened this one outdoors and I tell you, the air immediately around me had the pretty smell of Cabernet perfume. If this had happened indoors, it would be tell-worthy, but outdoors? I let it sit for a few hours. I knew I did not need to sample it just on that.

This is pretty black with red tinged edges. On the nose there is the purest expression of black currant you would ever fins. There was some cola, cardamom, souy, new leather, hints of cocoa, and lead pencil. An amazing mouth-feel with deft balance and structure. Tannins are intricate and in control of all else here, in a good way. I love the purity and the perfume that shoots from the glass as you bring it in. Its long, and flamboyant without being heavy handed or obtrusive. These really are a perennial crowd pleaser. Just a enjoyable and fulfilling drink of wine, perfect for friends. 94 pts

2007 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)

As 2007 Cabs go, I must add this one to my 'like' list. The list is about 4/35 (like/don't care for).
This really is similar in profile to the Schraders, and its no wonder now is it? It has a similar nose and approach onto the palate. Where is differs is in its length.
There is some reall pretty black and red fruits of cassis, black plums and black cherries with some cola and Creme de Cassis liquor. It has some great structure with a mid to mid-plus weighted wine with some voluptuous mouth-feel.. Tannins are pretty huge, and hidden right now behind some of that fruit cornucopia. There are those rumors out there that you want to believe: The one about the extra Schrader, (or lets call it a 'cut') going into this is not a stretch...... 91 pts

Thursday, June 23, 2011

1996 Domaine Rollin Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne (France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

1996 Rollin Corton-Charlemagne. This was awesome. A lilt little number with hints of some fresh soft Meyer lemon, graphite, petroleum jelly and spring flowers. Perfectly balanced and precise, a light to medium weighted mouth feel, this just glides over the tongue. Very nice indeed. 93 pts

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2006 Dain Wines Syrah The Smart Set White Hawk Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County)

pop & pour.

Great nose of blueberry, black raspberries and river stones. Palate has all that and a bag of chips. Not really. All that and more: Soy, red cassis and cedar with some cooled bacon fat. This is lively and playful with a perfectly 'slightly' elevated acidity level with nearly resolved tannins that are aligned and polished. A very elegant and pure Syrah, this is such an enjoyable food friendly wine.
In my humble estimation, If ever there was a non deserving victim of the 'non-appreciation' of American Syrahs, I will always point to David Dain and this bottling in particular as my number one example. I wish he still made this. 93 pts

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2006 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Some Days Are Diamonds (USA, California, Napa Valley)

If you have these in your cellar, and if you paid what I think you paid, consider yourself very lucky.
For a wine to be so dark, so pure and so black fruited all while being focused and precise and costing $18 you have hit a grand slam.
My 7th or 8th time with this wine in the last 18 months and all I can say is wow.

...and glad to have 8 more.........
I will buy deep on the '08s when they come around, again. 93 pts

Saturday, June 11, 2011

2008 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Charlie's Patch (Napa Valley) DELIVERED POPPED & POURED

Dark. Inky black-hole dark. Nose shows some notes of cassis driven black fruits but this wine is so primary you really have to look (almost like a barrel sample). The palate right off the bat reveals mountain fruit, and a lot of it. It is pure and slightly unfocused now, but this should really pull together nicely. There's all black fruits of currant, blackberries, black raspberries and black plum. Did I say currant? I should again. An almost cola note shows itself as well. Tannins are humongous and acidity perfectly in balance but the real story here today is the finish....this just goes and goes and goes. In May 2011, my CLONYC tasting group had the good fortune to host Michael Twelftree of Two Hands Wines and taste through a dozen of his latest releases. He had shared with us many of his thoughts of wine, one being that all of the great wines of the world have one thing in common, and that is a great finish ---and if there was ever an example of somebody putting their money where their mouth, its this Cabernet. As I type I still sense the purity of the black fruits on my tongue, and we're talking many minutes since I type slow (still peck & hunt). Sure, it's young, but it is so delicious that I have zero guilt on opening this today. I have a few wonderful porterhouse steaks in line for a bit later, its cool and comfortable outside, albeit a bit wet, and it's Saturday. This is not for the faint of heart, and I am not the faint of heart type of guy. Todays Charlie's Patch could vie for the my favorite Charlie's Patch out of the last four vintages, and 2007 was no slouch......93 points

Friday, June 3, 2011

1994 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley)

Dark with transparent edges of crimson. The nose is blueberries, bacon fat and red raspberries.The palate shows some initial intensity which works into a graceful and elegant wine which shows some of my favorite Northern Rhone qualities; nice deep blackish fruits with some damp forest floor complete with pine needles and acorns. The blueberries and raspberries are on the tongue too, just a wee bit darker than the nose. A very interesting wine that really could pass for a wine half it's age save for some late palate softness; but let's face it, it's 17 years young and showing wonderfully. It really has the pure nose that keeps you sniffing (sniffy-sniff). There seem to be some secondaries popping in after about 15 minutes, maybe some cedar, some leather, some violets and some cardamom. Balance is deft. Tannins are fully resolved and finely weaved and acidity is near perfect. This wine will please everyone across the board: new world types as well as those old world people. This Reva should drink well for a bunch more years, but its so good now, I might have a difficult time keeping my hands off my other 3 this bbq season, but I will try. 94 pts

Sunday, May 1, 2011

2002 Château Pavie (France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru)

Threw this into a bbq mix where many a Napa Cabs were served (as well expected of me), and oh yeah... and I wrapped it in foil. Let's have some fun.
Opened at 1pm. Served at 5.
Initially this showed some reddish fruits of raspberries and red currant with a hint of strawberries. I spend a few minutes with it right after pop and thought to myself how it fit into my expectations of what I thought it should taste like according to others notes and conversations about Pavie in general, this being my second Gérard Perse era Pavie. This was Bordeaux, and a real nice Bordeaux indeed.
By time it was served it was fun to watch the group taste and guess and much more of the same. Someone said Napa Cab right off the bat, others guessed mid nineties Napa Cabernet. Color was a pretty hue of carmine with burnt-umber edges and transparent throwing a slight/fine sediment. The crowd looked toward me suspiciously. I said nothing. It had real nice purity with a tremendously expressive midpalate with an almost pinot-like mouth feel. There was some nice hints of cedar and spice-box with tobacco, lite-soy sauce, and smoke. What I really loved was that strawberry note, and this in particular combined with some damp cellar floor, earth and a very real 'Regal-ness' told me we were firmly right of the Gironde.
Someone said 2002 or 2003, I nodded yes. OK, time for a hint: It is a Bordeaux varietal other than Cabernet Sauvignon. Someone said it was not Merlot; sleuth-Nano needed another pour (or two) and Cheryl who knows me all to well said 'Somebody had to have gifted you this wine Mike', to which I gave a BIG grin; they were onto me and it was time to reveal my one and only bottle of Bordeaux to a boisterous and laughing crowd.
I liked this one alot.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

2001 Kay Brothers Shiraz Hillside Amery Vineyards (Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale)

Dark and brooding. The nose is pure black cherries and cherry cola. This has a wonderful mid weight mouthfeel with loads of red/black fruits. There’s hints of cassis, a nice amount of black cherry, red raspberries, some cola, some Kirsch, and some black plum pumice; notes of worn leather; espresso bean, warm river stones, hints of menthol, spice box and wet forest floor. A really pretty and evolved wine that seems in such a perfect place right now, why wait. Gorgeous balance with a near perfect finish, bringing in even darker fruits. I love it. 94 points.

2001 J. Rochioli Pinot Noir - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

Ok, so I am not usually one to note on a Pinot. I have hosted winemakers with my tasting group and have left the official notes for some really great Pinots to others. This is one I want to speak of. It's not a regular occurrence that a non-Cabernet makes a WOTN for me on any given group tasting. Today is that day. This was a rusty crimson/strawberry color with a nose of dark strawberries, red raspberries and spring flowers. The palate showed incredible focus of said fruits with more, much more: This was elegant and classy with much depth and structure. The red fruits had a purity and precision that was mind boggling. Even if I did not find a sense of place, I sure got a sense of joy. A flintiness quality that I really loved with hints of cola, cardamom and a note of soy. Balance was amazing as this wine just seemed to float in and out of the palate with nary an edge. Tannins aligned and acidity perfect. What a great Pinot Noir. Wish I had some, and when do I ever say that? (93 pts.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

World's End wines come east.

Some time back there was a vote done on to send two lucky candidates a few samples from a new venture by Jonathan Maltus, the original ‘Garagiste’. A few weeks back I had received these bottles. It had always been my intention to share with a few Cab-head friends; last night we did so. These are all well made wines that will give joy to those who seek them out. A big ‘thanks’ to Jonathan Maltus for sending these east. All wines were pop and pour.

2008 Good Times, Bad Times Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, Oakville, Napa An interesting nose that was indeed ‘To Kalon like’ on pop and pour. I got some intense and focused black fruits of cassis and blackberries with just a hint of Kirsch. There was a very interesting creme brulee quality to this with maybe an exotic note of pickle (dissipated quickly) and some black olives. The tannins were firm with a bit of grip but with nice balance. As this sat its structure tightened bit and became a wee bit less fragrant. A nice little bottle of wine with its roots firmly into the To Kalon vineyard

2008 Crossfire Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Vineyard, Oakville, Napa Initially I loved the way this busted from the glass into the nose. Slightly more black/blue in the fruit profile. This reminded me of a Coombsville Cab like say Realms ‘Farella’ offering. It was more plush and bigger/fuller in the middle. A very ethereal wine with lots to like. I also enjoyed the cola aspect it exhibited in the middle. As this sat it became a bit thin (1 hour. I popped and poured all of these). This placed as an early favorite. I really enjoyed this save for the behavior as it sat in the glass.

2008 Wavelength Sugarloaf Mountain, Napa A 50/50 Syrah Cab Franc blend. As with its two siblings, this was fragrant and pretty on the nose. I can honestly say it was like nothing I have ever had in my life. It was nicely balanced and intense with plenty of flowers, red and blue berries, cherries and red plum. I got a hint of white pepper and spice-box. I would love to try this on its own as I think it has much to offer, just not alongside the fragrant and plushy Crossfire.

Monday, April 11, 2011

2001 Frazier Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Fantastic nose of cola and black-cherries. The palate shows some deep reddish black fruits of red currant, red cherries and raspberries. There was a nice dose of cola wrapped cardamom alongside some cedar box, soy and graphite. A classically styled cabernet that would please both preference parties (Old and new), but certainly with the lean to the old guard. There are some hints of Kirsch Royal and leather as well. Intricate tannic structure that seemed to unweave itself within the first 45 minutes to a very focused and pure cab lovers cab. Long finish with the blacker fruits lingering. What a treat. 91 points.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

2008 Jones Family The Sisters (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Nose of red cherries and pure cassis. A bit closed, but after about an hour there emerged (with coaxing) some cool reddish-black fruits. This is an intense wine with tons of gobby goodness lurking. Tremendous backbone really veils what this is all purity, creaminess, plush, menthol and leather. A real iron fist/ velvet glove wine, this has tremendous balance and depth. Finish is admirable as would be expected. I would say wait 2-3 years for this one and drink your 2007s. If this lives up to the 2006 Sisters, is yet to be seen, but it will be fun following it for the next few years. My early opinion--- I will keep to myself......92 points.

Friday, April 8, 2011

2009 Quivet Cellars Syrah Las Madres Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros)

30 minute decant, then through a Vinturi. Although a baby (Just received yesterday from the winery), this shows tons of potential. Nose of sassafras and blackberry. A beautiful and intoxicating purity with notes of soy and leather. There is a hint of spring flowers as well. The palate has some warm blueberry pie with blackberrry, hint of soy, hint of bacon fat, some mild white pepper and more. A light to medium body weight with fantastically woven tannins and a perfect high wire act of acidity. Long finish really completes it nicely. Released with 12 months bottle age I am surprised this need so much coaxing. It only proves how wonderful this will be in about 2 years. If mine last. Another great Mike Smith wine. 93 points.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

2002 Diamond Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain)

45 minute decant. Dark with those purple tinged edges. Nose of all cola laden cassis and black cherries with the slightest hint of tinned black olives. The palate has the same cola driven black fruits with some dried herbs, worn leather and some cream soda? Interesting for sure, this had such a four-square approach to what it is and makes no apologies for it; It's a Napa Cabernet in the classic style. Interesting as well since hailing from the 2002 Napa vintage this shows no 'fatness' of the vintage, and come closer to 2001 or even 1999 is style. A hint of sweetness and a decent finish that ends just slightly metallic. 90 points

Saturday, April 2, 2011

2008 Pott Wine Cabernet Sauvignon Actaeon Quixote Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District

Super purple tinged and beautiful. A nose of pure cassis, black cherry Kirsch with pomegranate. A full and round mouth feel that never comes close to even resembling anything overbearing. Pure and focused, more textural than layered now. In 5 or 6 years this could be a perfect rendition of a Stags Leap Napa Cabernet, and at least able to compete with SHS. There is an intense presence that beckons your attention. Some very pretty floral notes run the length; this really is an awesome bottle of wine; structure, grace, poise and breed all wrapped in a near perfect package. Deep and luxurious with fine tannins and a perfect lilty balance. A finish that goes for minutes.

There are times when people have asked me what I like in my Cabs; I would love to have a few dozen 187ml bottles of this for them to pop and see for themselves, as this really does have it all. I used the word beautiful no fewer than 6 times at the table while sampling this over lunch. If this is further indication, I am going to love the 2008 vintage in Napa. (95 pts.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

2006 Jones Family The Sisters - USA, California, Napa Valley (3/27/2011)

Pop and pour.
Having been a fan of these for a while (since the 03 vintage), I can tell you that there is no better feeling than reassurance of ones feelings and opinion, something that I have never been short of. This 2006 remains such an incredible staple in my cellar, as I get down to my last 7, I start feeling a bit melancholy; I know the 2008s are upon us now, and I know it's pretty great in its own right, but does it know that the shoes it need to fit into, lets call it the 'Sisters high water mark' has been set, all I can do is wish it luck. Them's some big shoes.

Today, I walk through a field of violets. The darkness we have all come to expect from these is still in play; the nose is spring violets, black currant and black cherry. The palate shows super breed and structure with tons of deep layers. An incredible array of black fruits with some red tinged fruits lying in the background. Spring flowers dominated by a very intense violet note really makes this love at first sight, but wait, there's more: Black cassis with Kirsch, black-cherries, cola, Kirsch, some soft vanilla notes, some cigar box, and hints of soy sauce. Initially on pop and pour you really need to pay attention as thing enter and exit quicker than Lindsay stays at rehab, but if you do, you are rewarded because now as I write, maybe 15 minutes after starting, the violets have subsided and more black fruits have emerged. The balance is deft and the finish is long. This really remains one of the best deals in the Valley. (95 pts.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2002 Emilio's Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)

Pop and pour. A bit redder and maybe more along in the color of the edges. The nose is cool black currant with some cola notes, kirsch and black cherry. Palate has the currant, black cherry and cola with some worn leather, cocoa butter and soy lite soy sauce. A hint of menthol is present. The mouthfeel is light weight and the balance is near perfect. I say near because there is a hint of acidity toward the end that adds dimension and depth. Pure and near precise this is enjoyable and free-flowing in its attack. Finish is admirable. An easy drinking Cabernet Sauvignon with a bunch of years under its belt. 91 pts

2007 Novy Family Wines Syrah Page Nord (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Dark it is. Real dark. The nose has predominant black-cherry and Kirsch Royal. There is some red currant and blackberries in there too. There is a very pretty spring flower note in there. The palate has all of those fruits I just mentioned with an explosion in your mouth. Black cherries and blueberry compote. Shows slightly hot, but time should bring that in line. A very lush and full mouthfeel with gobby red and black fruits. There is an interesting linseed oil quality I really like. This is a full throttle and in your face Syrah, not for the faint of heart. The finish is long and luxurious with memories of black cherries. I might hold my next bottles for BBQ season. 90 pts.

(or I might give them away, and I did).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2005 Slaughterhouse Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford)

Years back, I had read there was a petroleum depot or refinery located nearby Chateau Latour. I had also read that if you search hard enough, you can find traces of petrol in the wine. Now, I might not be the smartest wine-o around, but I know petrol is NOT something I want in my wine, either real or theorized. I went on to wonder what petrol might actually taste like?; it has taken me 25 years to find it but here it is, right now, in this wine. This is a big wine, bursting with fruit and goodness. Everything I would want in a Cabernet from Rutherford, and no, I can't find dust... I found the elusive petrol though. The nose was all bright black fruits of currant, pomegranate, plums, black cherry, blackberries and more. It's intense and boisterous, all while being brash and playful. There is a certain quality I have not, or never paid attention to here that is so in play, I can honestly say it endears me to this wine more. Initially the petrol came across somewhat like a petroleum jelly turn to fabrication/fakeness, but with air it awakened to add to the structure and overall pleasure of this wine. It is super structured with a mouth-feel that is lush and its tannins are oversized. I can see you all cringing, but don't; it's actually quite nice when all in balance and all in focus like this is tonight. I will even go further by saying this is very Paullliac-like, albeit young Paulliac-like. There is a cornucopia of 'stuff' here (Like the tea), almost too much to speak of, but since I have never been at a loss of words before, here tou go: creme de cassis, kirsch, new leather, lead pencil shavings, hints of vanilla, hints of cola, lavender, framboise, black cherries jubilee...BLACK. Had enough? It's long finish and lively acidity really makes this sing. And with song, comes dance. 93 pts

2006 Alpha Omega Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)

A very interesting wine. Deeply colored and opaque. The nose is a very quietly refined black cherry and black berry. The palate shows a superfine and luxurious cab with some depth and elegance. Actually, a lot of elegance. There is some fine woven tannins with just a hint of heat that dissipated with some decant time. This starts out an all black fruited cab with a very refined attitude that in time takes on some red fruits of red currant, tart red raspberries and plum; enter some camphor, some linseed oil, some lead pencil and some dried spices. Balance it deft and finish is long. This needs 3-4 hour minimal decant time to show itself.
91 pts

2003 Hug Cellars Syrah Bassetti Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, San Luis Obispo County)

Very pretty nose of black currants, violets and black cherries with hints of cola. The palate shows a purity and intensity. Initially there is a wee bit of sweetness that distracts, but as it sits in the glass, and as it comes up from cellar temp, it opens up to bright red and black fruits, some white pepper, some soy sauce, some violets. This is very Cabernet Sauvignon like in its approach. I would say almost fully resolved and totally in business. If I had to find a fault, it would be a slightly elevated acidity. It is fruit pack and light bodied, but enjoyable nonetheless. This is a food wine. 91 pts

2001 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon M-Bar Ranch Oakville (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)

I expected more from this one. It was 'typical' as a Cabernet, but just not boat rocking. Black cassis driven nose and mouth with cola, black cherry and black raspberry. What was missing was depth and sense of presence. Alongside a 2006 Realm Farella, this lacked structure, class and breed. Don't get me wrong, I did not throw it out of bed, but I also did not stare admiringly at it as it left the bed.Expectations can be problematic. 90 pts

2006 Realm Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Farella Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley)

3 hour decant. Consistent with my last note. This is opaque. The nose is a refined creme de cassis and blackberry. A beautiful refined and classy cabernet that just screams 'drink me'. Initially quite closed, but the decant time gave it dimension and depth. Black fruit ruled this bottle. Some cedar box, some leather, a hint of vanilla and some graphite in a medium bodied wine, this went long and stayed black fruit laden. I am thrilled to have 4 more in the cellar. No need to run to though, as these are built for some more distance. 93 pts

2003 Andrew Murray Syrah Roasted Slope (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley)

The more I drink Andrew Murray Syrahs, the more I find ho much I enjoy the them more and more. This was floral and pretty with a black & blue fruit profile. It has a nice creaminess within the light/mid-weight mouth feel. some pomegranate pomace, white pepper, bacon fat and wild flowers. A very enjoyable wine that has a fantastic QPR. 92 pts

2006 Drew Family Cellars Syrah Broken Leg Vineyard (USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley)

This wines is just a fantastic rendition of a Cali Syah that I am still learning I seem to really enjoy. It has a vibrancy and level of fruits that catch your attention early and hold it long, but in a seemingly delicate and profound way. Blue fruited with some underlying blacks, this glides across the palate with an almost lush and velvety texture that I associate with some Cali Cults more than Cali Syrahs. Elegance and purity rules the roost. Some worn leather, hints of soy sauce, river rocks and white pepper. A long finish tops it all off.Its pretty and joyful. The hit Syrah (3 total) on the table with wine-os and non wine-os alike. 94 pts

2005 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Mandala (USA, California)

Big and bold. No doubt you're in Cali. Smoked meat, river stones, white pepper, blueberry pie, black cherry, leather and black cherry liquer. As it had the opportunity (3 hrs) to sit on the table it fleshed out into a finely delineated pure Syrah. I can be a fan of such a bold style, just not sure I want it all the time. It is a great wine nonetheless. 91 pts

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2009 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Sunspot Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District)

Probably one of the greatest young wines I have sampled. This is sure primary, but if you look deep enough you will find the goodies hiding. Midnight black fruits of currant, and blackberries. Pure and super focused with gobs of stuffing. There is some spring flowers and rubbed leather. It's plush and elegant all while being brash and boisterous. Multi-layered and pretty, this has near perfect balance. When this wine gets some time on it, it will be incredible, some things you just.....know. 96 pts

2006 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select (USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District)

Dark and opaque. The nose has a refined cassis and black cherry with some sweet undertones that are very nice indeed. The first thing you spot on the nose is the purity and class. This has some plush creme de cassis, Kirsch Royal, black cherry & cola. A very lilty balance with a lush under-body and velvety feel that really makes it shine. Long and precise, this is focused and full of Grandeur. 93 pts

2007 Miner Family Syrah La Diligence Stagecoach Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley)

What an all around near perfect expression of Cali-Syrah. There is some beautiful black fruits of blackberries and plum. Some steamed meat, bacon fat, blueberry pie and boysenberries. Perfect balance with a med/light body and tons of elegance. Wonderful structure 'involved' tannins and long finish. Somewhere between the US and Northern Rhone, this has the best of both worlds in a nice little package. Made from Stagecoach fruit. One I will seek out. (93 pts.)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2001 Brokenwood Shiraz Rayner Vineyard (Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale)

Black with barely any age showing. The nose is a respectful menthol with some black cherry, smoke and Asian spice. There is also some real nice cola notes here which I think is a product of age with this. In a way it reminds me of a 'not perfect vintage Grange'. I get no negative stuff in here. The palate has all that plus some red currant, red plums and cedar with high notes of cola. This last quality really makes this a memorable wine tonight. (Pizza night at Chateau Pobega) The balance is fantastic, all while fully resolved. A mid-weight wine with some plushy goodness that hints of leather, blueberry pie and sassafras. A long finish and Bob's your uncle. This bottle personifies & embodies the old adage "No good wines, just good bottles" as it is fantastic in it's showing this evening. I had 'not so high hopes' for this bottle, so I apologize: You sir, are awesome. I like aged Shiraz! there, I said it! 93 pts

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The wine gods have been kind to Napa Cabernet lovers

Given a fair chance, a frog can indeed turn into a prince. I know as I have witnessed this first hand (and still am witnessing such). The frog I speak of is the 2003 vintage of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Upon first impressions back in 2005 and 2006 I had noticed many were plagued with the issues of a troubled and rainy Cabernet harvest. Numerous (in my humble opinion) were insipid and thin, lacking structure and often over acidified and out of balance. The top estates of the Napa Valley are well expected to make good wines even in seemingly ‘off’ years, but coming off of two abysmal vintages like 1998 and 2000, were Cab lovers actually willing spend hard earned cash to find the gems? To date I must have tasted 200+ Cabernet Sauvignons from the 2003 vintage but none have impressed me more than a select few. Karl Lawrence wines are a good bet in an off year and the reserves much more so. I have had a few 2003 Karl Lawrence Dr Crane reserves that have been simply spectacular, and last nights 2003 Gemstone Yountville was no different (see below). There are some others in my list of maybe ten or so and the QPR of the group being the 2003 Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. Happily, many of those ‘lesser’ wines I sampled way back when have become nicely drinkable when revisited today.

After being a big proponent against wines from this vintage, even going as far as blocking people from bringing them to my CLONYC dinners, I can safely say that I think…no, I know time has been gracious to this vintage. Add the best wines of this vintage to the bevy of phenomenal wines we are witness to right here and now, my usual saying of “What a great time to be a Napa Cab lover” takes on even more relevance. Compounded yet again with the fact that many top Cabernets from Napa ‘03 can usually be gotten for a fraction of their release prices and when viewed in the colored glasses of the dreary financial situation we find amongst us, not to mention the ‘hushly spoken of’ overstock of wines due to hit us soon enough, and amazing vintages that ‘keep-a-poppin’, all I can ask is: Are you ready?
Don't miss the train!

2003 Gemstone Yountville (USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville)

What a beautiful wine. This is still dark and ominous. The nose starts out all creme de cassis and black cherries. A super elegant plushness is really in control here. Fully resolved and firing on every cylinder this has it just maxes itself out for your benefit. Black fruits of currant, black berries and black cherries, there is a phenomenal balance to this: it had perfect acidity for a meal of wild boar, couscous with a blackberry reduction sauce. Pure and focused with style and pizazz, this is just amazing tonight. After about an hout this went to the red fruit side with cherries ruling. Even the color changed for the redder. Interesting indeed. A long and pure finish really ends the show here. I have not had this one in about 5 years, and it has really became something special. 95 pts

Monday, January 10, 2011

2004 Scholium Project Scythia Donati Vineyards (USA, California, Central Coast, San Benito County)

What can I say that has not been said before and probably by me in any of my other half dozen notes here? After I pulled a corked bottle from my cellar 2 months back when at dinner with Abe, I was anxious to open one again. It’s still pure and still firmly focused and awesome. There is not a rough edge to be found and I think this may be in its sweet spot right now. Black and blue fruits run the show with some low notes of warm bacon fat, river stones and blueberry compote. This actually gets a bit plushy in the middle and to the finish which long and elegant. This really still has it all. Fabulous.13 more stored away and happy for it. 96 pts

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2005 Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)

This wine's best attributes are hidden. All the pieces are there, they just need to be given the time to come together cohesively. The nose is a quiet brand of black cassis and blackberry. Palate shows some nice purity and structure all wrapped within some black fruits of currant, blackberries, black cherries, and black plum compote. Some soft creme de cassis with a hint of Kirsch Royal liquor. Tannins are big and defensive but the balance is evident. Typical of the classic 2005 vintage, I like this ones style. I think I will like it better after some resolving & rest. There is a trace of alcohol on the finish as well, but the finish had all the fruit still showing through. I will call this 90 tonight with 93 the promise. Lots happening here, lets just bring it all together now, ok? :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

2006 Arnot-Roberts Syrah "North Block" Hudson Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros)

This wine is all about fragrance and the 'berry'. On sight its dark and ominous. The nose has all fresh cut flowers, small black berries, blueberry compote. Palate shows an amazing breed and structure--Hudson in the house. Its purity and precision is uncanny. Its tannins complicated but behaving. Balance is deft. A long berry filled finish brings this into the barn nicely. If I to find complaint, it's that this closed about an hour after opened. It went from big and showy to refined and quiet. Initially it was all nose. I think this still needs some time in bottle to show its fullest. Just a hair behind the 2005 overall. I do love this wine. 92 pts

2001 Elyse Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Cask Morisoli Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley)

A very pretty nose of crushed red & black currant, creme de cassis and Kirsch with an interesting underlying creaminess. The palate brings all of that forward with the added bonus of some sweet black cherries, pomegranate, plum pudding, Asian tea, spring flowers and sun warmed river rock. It has a unctuousness about it that really shines through. A medium plus weighted wine with silky almost resolved tannins & perfect balance. Not a showy wine at all, but not exactly a wallflower either, this has some wonderful grace and structure. A wonderful interplay of red & black fruits. I think the 'Morisoli'ness shows in the prettiness and class this shows. A long finish really brings this one home. 93 pts