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