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