Tasting Notes contains just that notes on wines I have tasted!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

New Release Big Gun Cabernet: Vintage Wines Ltd, Monthly Thursday Tasting

New Release Big Gun Cabernet
October 20th. 6:30PM

Ninth Third Thursday Tasting for 2005 at Vintage Wines of San Diego. This one written up as: We will taste some of the top new releases from California. Some may be blends or pure varietals, but they will all be top of the class

2002 Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley $71.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very aromatic with banana, sweet anise, cola mixed with earth. Pleasantly full bodied and well structured finishing with chewy tannins. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.0 = 18.2/100, 91/100. 94 W&S 14.5% alcohol.

2003 Lewis, Napa Valley $64.99USD
100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dense cherry red with red edge. Rich, spicy aromas with notes of pepper, blackberry jam and anise. Medium bodied with bright acidity, and nice length to the finish. A well structured wine. 2, 2, 4.1, 9.9 = 18/20, 90/100. 14.2% alcohol.

2002 Etude, Napa Valley $74.99USD
95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc
Dense cherry red with red edge. Sweet oak with tobacco and a hint of nail polish remover (ethyl acetate, EA). Full bodied with excellent structure supported by prominent astringency and clean acidity. A rich and ripe style with the EA coming up over time but never unpleasant. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.1 = 18.4/20, 92/100. 93 RP, 94WS 14.6% alcohol.

2002 Seavey, Napa Valley $53.99USD
95% Cabernet sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot
Dense cherry red with red edge. Quite closed with faint chocolate, cassis and oak. Soft entry, nicely balanced with juicy acidity and plenty of astringency from the big, chewy tannins. Will need 5-10 years to reveal itself. 2, 2, 3.7, 10.1 = 17.8/20, 89/100. 94 RP 14.7% alcohol.

2000 Clos de Sarpe (St. Emilion) $89.99USD
The blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc is aged in 100% new French oak.
Dense cherry red with red edge. Ethanol, caramel and barnyard flavors. Soft entry with acidity across the palate, considerable astringency and unpleasant sour acidity to the finish. A disagreeable wine that developed a wet cardboard flavor with time. Corked? 2, 2, 3.5, 9.4 = 16.9/20, 84/100. 95 RP 13.5% alcohol.

2003 Palazzo, Napa Valley $34.98USD
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
Dense cherry red with red edge. Impressively flavored with anise, cedar and dusty oak aromas. A little sweetness on the palate but with excellent structure and bright acidity to the finish. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.3 = 18.5/20, 92/100. Excellent value. 14.2% alcohol.

2002 Joseph Phelps, Insignia, Napa Valley $99.99USD
78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec
Vibrant dense cherry red with red edge. Complex notes of smoke, coconut and dark fruits. Flavors carry well onto the palate. A very well structured wine with excellent balance supported by chewy tannins and excellent length to the finish. Top of the class! 2, 2, 4.2, 10.5 = 18.7/20, 94/100. 96WS, 96RP, 95ST 14.4% alcohol.

2002 Quintessa, Napa Valley $89.99USD
77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc
Dense cherry red with red edge. A little closed with pleasant notes of banana and sweet oak. Nice mouthfeel and excellent carry of flavors onto the palate. Well structured with very firm astringency. 2, 2, 3.8, 10.1 = 17.9/20, 89/100. 89-91 RP, 92-94 WS 14.3%

2002 Pahlmeyer, Napa Valley $99.99USD
63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc
Dense cherry red with red edge. Flavors of smoky, sweet oak, blackberry and a little EA. The palate is rich and ripe with aromas of violets and EA. Well balanced with very firm tannins and bright acidity. Developed a dried tea leaves character over time. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.0 = 18/20, 90/100. 94 RP 15.5% alcohol.

2002 Rudd Estate, Oakville $99.99USD
79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, 1% Malbec
Cherry red with red edge. Notes of earth, anise, oak and ethanol. Soft and supple entry with nice acidity backed up by big, drying tannins. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.0 = 18.1/20, 91/100. 95 RP 14.5% alcohol.

Before the identities of the wines were revealed votes were taken for first, second and third favorite wines. My top three wines were actually very close and I had to go back over them several times before deciding, and then adding a tenth of a point here and there to separate the wines; First placed wine No. 7, Second wine No. 6, Third wine No. 3. The voting by the group saw the first placed wine as wine No. 8. Second placed votes were split evenly between wines 3 and 5, and third placed votes went to wine No. 7.

We were told prior to the tasting that there was one wine that would be different. At my table one of the group started out by saying that wine No.2 didn’t belong as it appeared more like an Australian Shiraz, and I was in agreement up until I had tasted through all the wines. It then seemed quite clear to me that wine No. 5 was very different in style, and it didn’t take long for us to conclude that it was probably from Bordeaux. A number of others had reached the same conclusion, particularly the table made up of Bordeaux lovers who thought it the best wine among the group! As the evening progressed I thought the wine may actually be corked. As there was some wine left in the bottle I went up to get another taste but was beaten by one of the Bordeauxphiles who took the bottle back to their table. I hope they enjoyed it!

As is usual at these single blind tastings there were a lot of surprises when the identities of the wines were revealed. What did not surprise me is that I had placed the Etude in my top three, something I have done consistently over the years. The problem is that you could put the Etude Cabernet (any Etude Cabernet) in with another quality Napa Cabernet and I would have a hard time picking out the wine. I can never recognize it but I always rate it well. My WOTN was the Insignia, a really classy example of a Napa blend, but the value of the group was the Palazzo. Although it has some sweetness that is not typical of this style of wine it will be interesting to see how this particular wine ages. The other wines (with the exception of the Clos de Sarpe) will live for decades.


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