Friday, January 3, 2014

Report from ... Napa Valley: A Taste of Time & More - October 21, 2013

Today is a day for a tasting with a bit of a duality.  First: a question was posed and answered, "How does age affect Napa Valley wines?"  Second: how are the wines of the Napa Valley tasting today? 

During a pre-tasting seminar we tasted the wines from five producers, then and now ... an hour later we were in the main room tasting current wines from "California's Renowned Napa Valley", all held at the Royal Ontario Museum, in Toronto ... here's the story in pictures:

The Seminar Wines "A Taste of Time" ...

The wines in glass at the "Taste of Time" part of the tasting.
Cain Five 2004 vs 2008
2004 - stinky nose with a palate that still shows quite a bit of oak and tannin (tolerable)
2008 - oak, smoke, toast and cedar, but lacks fruit character ... will it come with time?
If the 2004 is any indication maybe not.
Long Meadow 2009 vs 2005
2005 - nose is cassis, plum, prune, dried cherry and elements of sweet dried cranberry;
palate shows licorice, dried cherry and touches of new leather - conclusion: the nose is the standout (tolerable)
2009 - lovely fruit, but not over-whelming: strawberry, raspberry and mocha all with some pretty harsh tannins.
The 2005 has 2% Cabernet Franc while the 10% Merlot
Shafer Hillside Select 2003 vs 2009- this wine has been made since 1983 -
2003 - nose of sweet black licorice, black cherry, blackberry and mocha
follows on the palate adding jazzy black fruit and red licorice on the finish (treasure)
2009 - lots of lovely black fruit and some chocolate notes; nice spice and lovely tannin dryness (**** 1/2)
"I didn't care whether they age, the important question is do they taste good?
What I've learned is that if they taste good upon release they'll age well" - David Shafer
Silverado Vineyards 1989 vs 2009
1989 - smooth, earthy and dried red fruit, appears to be thinning;
drinkable with some interesting notes (tolerable)
2009 - gentle fruit but not over the top:
strawberry, raspberry with hints of cherry; very pretty (****)
Somerston 2007 vs 2010
- '07 is the first vintage of this wine, though they have been growing grapes for many years, they sell off 70% of their fruit -
2007 - pine, herbal and licorice root aromas that follow on the palate,
there is also something funky there (tolerable)
2010 - fruit does not apparently jump out of the glass,
but it's there and ends with some really jazzy red fruit and floral notes (****)
Wines from "California's Renowned Napa Valley" ...
Beringer Vineyards 2010 Quantum (~$60)
lots of lovely red berries (*** 1/2+)
Black Stallion Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (~$65.00)
juicy red and black fruit (*** 1/2+)
Black Blackbird Vineyards 2010 Paramour (~$125.00)
there's a nice smoky element amongst the fruit (****)
Cain Vineyard 2009 Cain Concept, The Benchland (~$60.00)
nice smoky with a touch of cedary notes (****)
Cakebread Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Dancing Bear Ranch (~$110.00)
6% Cabernet Franc and 1% Merlot - 19 months in oak - quite elegant
nice spice, cinnamon and dark berries (**** 1/2)
Ceja Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay, Los Carneros (~$40.00)
creamy with good fruit and vanilla oak (*** 1/2+)
Coquerel Family Wine Estates 2010 La Petite Sirah (~$35.00)
smoky blueberry, floral, and white pepper; smooth and silky (*** 1/2+)
Cuvaison 2011 Pinot Noir (~$38.00)
pretty with floral, juicy of strawberry and cherry; supple palate (****+)
Freemark Abbey 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (~$46.00)
creamy chocolate and vanilla notes with elements of cassis and spiced raspberry (****+)

Frank Family Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve (~$85.00)
chocolate, black raspberry, strawberry and red licorice (****+)
Hall 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Kathryn Hall (~$125.00)
shows and elegance of fruit with vanilla and hints of wood (****+)
The Hess Collection 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Allomi (~$30.00)
chocolate, cherry and blueberry (****)
La Jota Vineyard 2010 Merlot, Howell Mountain (~$75.00)
gentle blueberry and spiced chocolate (****)
Quintessa 2009 Red Blend (~$145.00)
firm tannins and smoky red fruit (****)
Robert Mondavi Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve (~$135.00)
a real belt of chocolate on this one (****)
St. Supery Estate Vineyards 2010 Elu (~$75.00)
17% Merlot / 76% Cabernet Sauvignon / 7% blend of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot
red berries, mocha, creamy vanilla and blueberry (****)
Shafer 2010 One Point Five (~$70.00)
delicious dark fruit (****+)

Shafer 2010 Merlot (~$50.00)
juicy blueberry and chocolate (****+)
Signorello 2011 Chardonnay, Hope's Cuvee (~$70.00)
made from 34 year old vines
butterscotch, apricot, peach and grilled pineapple (****+)
Silenus 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Reserve (~$N/A)
60% new French oak and 10% new American
vanilla and dark red fruits - tasty (****+)
Silenus 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (~$45.00)
nice structure with good spice and black fruit (****)
Spring Mountain Vineyard 2009 Elivette (~$125.00)
all 5 Bordeaux varietals go into this wine
great spiciness with elegant tannins (****+)
Swanson Vineyards 2009 Alexis, Cabernet Sauvignon (~$75.00)
7% Merlot ... chocolate and blackberry
smooth and sexy with a chocolate finish (****)
William Hill Estate Winery 2011 Chardonnay (~$28.00)
creamy vanilla, hint of caramel and butterscotch
with mac apple backing (****+)

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