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02.27.2014

Premiere Napa Valley and 2012 Cabernet

premiere_2014.jpgThis past Saturday, The Napa Valley Vintners association held its annual Premiere Napa Valley barrel auction. Held each February as a fundraiser for the Vintners' operations, this auction, and the various associated parties and tastings that turn a sleepy February into a buzzing maelstrom for a few days, are open only to members of the trade (retailers, corporate buyers, and the like). Every year, this auction provides a gauge of the overall demand for Napa wine, and perhaps a broader barometer of the American fine wine market overall.

Judging by the auction's haul of of $5.9 million, which obliterated the previous record of $3.1 million, the outlook for California fine wine lies somewhere between sunny and supernova. The demand expressed in the purchase of the 225 auction lots on offer last weekend was unprecedented, and drought notwithstanding, California has a lot to look forward to in the near future.

The wines that get auctioned off at Premiere are made solely for the auction, in quantities of 5, 10, or 20 cases, and often represent the highest quality wine that each producer can make.

For anyone (such as myself) with no aspirations of buying fairly expensive, very unique wines, the weekend's primary point of interest lies in the tasting held before the auction, where these 200 (or in the case of this year, 225) barrel lots are made available for members of the trade and the media to sample.

So what's the good in me tasting wines that most won't be able to buy, let alone drink for some time? As I swoon over some of these wines, I often ask myself the same question.

Some of these wines can actually be purchased by the public, though they require persistence to track down, plus a cavalier attitude towards the price of wine. The average price of purchase this year was $283 per bottle.

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The Premiere auction usually features a few stratospheric prices, but nothing in the event's history approaches the jaw-dropping price fetched for one lot this year. The Wine House (a retailer whose rather sedate newsletters I receive regularly, hawking nice bottles of $70 Brunello) walked away with 60 bottles of Scarecrow Cabernet for a price of $260,000, or $4333 per bottle. To whom, how, and for how much they plan to sell the wine, remains a mystery to me, but I have to admit, it was pretty good.

In recent years, the Napa Valley Vintners Association has been making a concerted effort to give the public access to these wines, and as a result, interested parties can look up the winning bidders on the auction site, and see which lots may be sold by the winning bidders.

If you're like me, however, you probably can't afford a single bottle of even the lowest priced wines from this event, so really, apart from offering a ringside view on the uppermost echelon of California wine buying, the Premiere Napa Valley auction provides a gauge of the quality of wine that a large number of Napa producers can make when they really try, as well as a broad sense of the particular vintage on offer -- in this case, 2012.

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I attend every year for these insights, along with the fantastic food and laid-back camaraderie that accompanies the event.

So what does the 2012 vintage taste like?

Before answering the question directly, I have to confess that I've been somewhat cavalierly describing the vintage in short-hand as "the vintage where, if you didn't make good wine, you should just pack up and go home." In slightly less flip circumstances, I have also suggested that 2012 was a bit of a "goldilocks" vintage for Napa -- not too hot, not too cold.

In either case, I expected the 2012 vintage to yield some truly excellent wines, but I must admit my surprise at how many wines were not nearly as excellent as they could be. I found more than a few 2012 wines that I tasted to be somewhat soft, or mushy in the mouth, seeming to fall apart on the palate rather than holding their definition with acidity and structure. Most smelled great in the glass, with lush fruit, but that lushness turned to the over-plushness of a too-soft couch that all but swallows you when you sit down on it.

My conversations with winemakers about possible explanations for these less-than-successful wines have all pointed to the fact that yields in 2012 were quite high. In some cases, more than three times the previous year (which was one of the coldest and most difficult on record). Such a drastic increase in yield does not arrive without the potential to throw the fruit out of balance, and some wines seemed to have handled this massive fecundity quite poorly. In many cases, the wines are quite sweet, and usually lack the acidity and tannic structure that could support such ripe fruit.

Having said all that, some people made absolutely brilliant wines in 2012. The best of these possess a generosity and openness that will almost certainly make this vintage a favorite among consumers. I found the vast majority of the tannins in these wines to possess a wonderful round softness that made them instantly accessible.

I need to taste more barrel samples in a slightly more considered setting to truly get a feel for what this means in terms of ageworthiness, but regardless of their lifespan, most 2012s will be beautiful right out of the gate.

The most successful wines in 2012, as in any year for me, combined bright fruit with excellent acidity and structure, and were not beaten into submission by an application of 200% new oak.

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Every year, I get a chance to discover new things at this tasting, and this year I was especially pleased to be introduced to two new winery projects: Lateral and ADAMVS, both of whose wines were quite impressive. I look forward to getting to know their work further, and encourage you to seek them out.

The Premiere barrel tasting is quite a marathon, especially for a guy like me who sets out to taste literally every single one of the 225 lots on offer. For the first time in several years, I was unable to make it through all the lots, even after spending several hours on Friday tasting many of them in advance. Maybe I'm just getting old.

So without further ado, here are my notes on the roughly 180 wines I tasted. The scores and tasting notes may be mostly irrelevant to mere mortals who have no designs on the specific wines, but take note of those producers at the top of my list. They're a good bet for having made excellent wine in general in 2012.


WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9.5 AND 10

2012 Schrader "Double Diamond, Rocky's Row" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of juicy cherry and mulberry fruit. In the mouth the wine offers juicy boysenberry and cherry flavors, fine tannins, and fantastic acidity. Great length.

2012 Corison Winery "Premiere Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cherry and floral aromas. In the mouth, the wine is gorgeous, smooth and rich, but somehow without weight. Lush cherry and graphite flavors mix with fabulous acidity, and balance. Very fine tannins.


WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5

2012 Tournesol Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of juicy cherry fruit. In the mouth, gorgeous cherry flavors are very smooth, long and gorgeous. Impeccable balance.

2012 Arkenstone Vineyards "Block 7 Upper Vineyard" Cabernet Franc, Howell Mountain
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of ripe plum. In the mouth, rich, dark, plum and cherry flavors are quite juicy and long.

2012 Chappellet Vineyard Red Wine, Napa Valley
Nuanced, rich, and earthy. Great acidity.

2012 Favia Erickson Winegrowers "The Century Egg" Red Wine, Coombsville
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright cherry, cedar, and earth. In the mouth the wine is quite juicy, with lean and bright cherry fruit, fine tannins, and great acidity. Excellent finish.

2012 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
Beautifully elegant. Great acidity.

2012 Notre Vin "Carré d'As" Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
Medium cloudy garnet the glass, this wine smells of cherry, and mulberry. In the mouth, the wine is surprisingly medium bodied, and quite elegant, featuring juicy cherry, great acidity, and a great texture. Quite easy to drink.

2012 Ladera Vineyards "Two Mountains" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Nice balance, depth.

2012 Shafer Vineyards "Sunspot Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells quite ripe, even raisined, but in the mouth lush cherry, dark cherry and a hint of wet earth bathe the palate. Rich and broad. Good acidity.

2012 Continuum Estate Red Wine, Napa Valley
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of pure bright cherry fruit. In the mouth that sense of purity continues as gorgeous cherry and earthy flavors are dusted with supple tannins. Wonderfully long finish.

2012 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder
Dark garnet, rich cherry, cedar, chocolate. Juicy, rich, cherry, plum, chocolate, long. Great acidity.

2012 Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine has a juicy nose of fresh cherry fruit. IN the mouth cherry, earth, and forest floor flavors linger for a long time in the mouth. Excellent acidity, and a deep mineral undertone.

2012 Reynolds Family Winery, CONSTANT & David Arthur Vineyards "Tres Loco's" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Gorgeous, bright fruit, great acidity, long, and lovely.

2012 Ovid Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of chocolate covered raisins, and cherry. In the mouth, flavors of cherry and raisins make this wine quite ripe, but great acidity and supple, fine-grained tannins add complexity and bounce. Ultimately, quite delicious.

2012 Clark-Claudon Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Rich bright, cherry with a nice mineral and earthy tone. Powerful tannins. Gorgeous.

2012 LATERAL Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of juicy plum and cherry. In the mouth the wine offers fantastically balanced juicy cherry and plum fruit, shot through with supple tannins. Great acidity and length. Fabulous.

2012 Scarecrow Wine "Toto's Opium Dream: Scene III" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of juicy cherry fruit tinged with ethereal floral and wet earth scents. In the mouth, supple but quite muscular tannins wrap around an electrically juicy and cherry fruit core that is scented with violets and wet dirt.

2012 Kapcsandy Family Winery "State Lane Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry, earth, and anise. In the mouth, flavors of anise, cherry, and black cherry, burst with a bright acidity on the palate. Gorgeous length. Muscular tannins, great acidity.

2012 Volker Eisele Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Chiles Valley District
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of green bell pepper, cherry and plums. In the mouth, juicy fresh cherry mixes green herb green bell pepper amidst fine grained tannins. Good acidity. Nicely herbal and balanced.

2012 Appellations "Brix and Mortar" Red Wine, Napa Valley
Medium dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry and cherry. In the mouth, the wine is bright with gorgeous, juicy cherry fruit. Powdery but muscular tannins coat the mouth. Yum!

2012 Robert Mondavi Winery "To Kalon Vineyard, Monastery Block" Red Wine, Oakville
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich mocha and black cherry. In the mouth powerful tannins wrap a core of brooding dark cherry tinged with earth, great acidity. One of the best efforts I've tasted from Mondavi in a long while. Bravo.

2012 TEXTBOOK "All or Nothing!" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
Medium dark purple in the glass, this wine smells of smoky cola and cherry aromas. In the mouth juicy cherry fruit is dusted with fine grained tannins. Great length.

2012 TOR Kenward Family Wines "Beckstoffer To Kalon" Red Wine, Oakville
Medium to dark purple in the glass, this wine offers a floral, bright cherry aroma. In the mouth, juicy, lush cherry fruit has fantastic acidity and powdery tannins. Long and gorgeous.

2012 Pride Mountain Vineyards "Summit Select" Red Wine, Napa Valley
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of lush, even sweet cherry. In the mouth, lush cherry and cedar flavors are dusted with powdery tannins. Excellent acidity and length.

2012 Oakville Ranch Vineyards "Robert's" Cabernet Franc, Oakville
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of floral, cherry and plum fruit. In the mouth, gorgeously bright plum and cherry flavors take a turn towards rich as they move across the palate. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit bright. Soft tannins.

2012 VHR, Vine Hill Ranch "Assessment" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
Inky purple in the glass, this wine smells of cassis, black cherry and mint. In the mouth mint, chocolate, black cherry, combine under a blanket of rich, supple tannins. Long.

2012 ADAMVS "Borne" Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
Inky purple in the glass, this wine smells of juicy, floral, and mouthwatering cherry fruit. In the mouth dark, juicy cherry fruit has a fantastic freshness thanks to outstanding acidity. Outstanding.


WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5

1993 Schramsberg Vineyards "Reserve Late Disgorged" Sparkling Wine, Napa Valley
Light gold in the glass with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of sweet roasted nuts. In the mouth the wine has a distinct sweetness, which is unexpected and somewhat unlooked for. Roasted nuts and citrus peel are quite juicy on the palate, but I miss the savory notes of previous vintages. Still, it's hard not to swallow this wine.

2012 Lail Vineyards "Henry V" Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of struck match and honeysuckle. In the mouth, bright juicy lemon, smoky oak, and a hint of sweetness round out the wine. Bright.

2012 Howell at the Moon, Kelleher & Peacock Winery "Three-some" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of lush cherry and graphite aromas. In the mouth, lush black cherry flavors are quite juicy thanks to great acidity and everything is dusted with fine-grained tannins.

2012 Raymond Vineyards "Masquerade" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and cedar. In the mouth, earthy flavors of cocoa mix with bright cherry and plum. Powdery tannins, and very well integrated oak round out the package.

2012 Barnett Vineyards "Rattlesnake Hill Blend" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of mocha and cherry fruit. In the mouth lush cherry fruit is even slightly sweet, but good acidity and plush tannins help add complexity.

2012 Larkmead Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
Bright, juicy, long.

2012 Cornerstone Cellars "The Premiere Cornerstone" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Juicy, mineral bright.

2012 BRAND Napa Valley "Double Horseshoes" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Inky purple in the glass, this wine smells of earthy cherry, cassis, and licorice. In the mouth juicy and darkly intense black cherry fruit is coated in muscular tannins. A nice earthy note lingers in the finish. Lush.

2012 Amuse Bouche Winery "Heidi's Mouth-Watering Cuvee" Merlot, St. Helena
Lives up to its name. Juicy and delicious.

2012 Spoto Wines Malbec, Oakville
Medium to dark purple in the glass, this wine smells of bright blueberry and cassis. IN the mouth, blueberry, juicy black cherry, and nice acidity make for a long ride of blue fruit across the palate. Delicious.

2012 Paradigm Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
Medium to dark purple in the glass, this wine smells of fruity cassis and plum. IN the mouth plush, juicy cherry flavors are enlivened by great acidity. Fine-grained tannins, Great length.

2012 Keenan Winery "A Nod to History" Zinfandel, Spring Mountain District
Medium garnet in color, this wine has an exotic floral nose of sweet berry aromas. In the mouth chocolate/mocha flavors mix with plummy fruit, and great acidity. Long finish. Distinctive and tasty.

2012 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc, Oakville
Dark purple in color, this wine smells of black cherry and plum. In the mouth, tight, muscular tannins wrap around a core of rich dark cherry and plum. There's a pleasant, woody/bitter note on the finish.

2012 Blackbird Vineyards "10th Anniversary Cuvée" Red Wine, Napa Valley
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry, nutty, earthy aromas. In the mouth, similar flavors of cherry, nuts, and wet dirt rest on a bed of what appear at first to be velvet tannins, but with some time become the biceps of a bodybuilder that just happen to be wrapped in velvet. Hints of green herbs linger in the finish.

2012 Virage Napa Valley Red Wine, Los Carneros
Medium purple in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and plum. In the mouth, juicy cherry and plum fruit has a fresh, herbal and mineral quality thanks to great acidity. Tightly wound tannins.

2013 Vineyard 29 "St. Helena Special" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine has a lush, approachable cherry aroma. IN the mouth, juicy black cherry and licorice flavors have a bouncy quality thanks to excellent acidity. Bright, juicy, with a long finish.

2012 Terra Valentine "The Crown Jewel" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District
Dark garnet in color, this wine has a beautiful black cherry aromas. In the mouth the wine is quite serious, with supple tannins wrapping cherry, tobacco, and cassis. Great acidity and length.

2012 Seavey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Very dark garnet, meaty, rich, black olive black cherry, dark black cherry, bright, juicy. Long, dome heat in the finish. Very fine tannins.


2012 Aiken Wines "Morisoli" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
Juicy and smooth, with a muscular skein of tannins. Fresh and bright.

2012 Kenefick Ranch Winery "Pickett Red" Red Wine, Calistoga
Fresh, bright, juicy.

2012 Keever Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville
Juicy berry. Long.

2012 Rocca Family Vineyards "Row 57 Old Vines" Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville
Well-integrated wood. Caramel.

2012 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Juicy and bright.

2012 Barbour Wines "Man Cave Blend" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Slightly sweet, but hard not to love.

2012 Arietta "Apotheosis" Red Wine, Napa Valley
Gorgeous. juicy, lush

2012 Realm Cellars "Act II, Scene i" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Rich bright, juicy, cherry. Powdery velvet tannins.

2012 THE GRADE Cellars "The Money Barrel" Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
Sweet fruit (but good acidity). Plush tannins.

2012 Crosby Roamann Red Wine, Napa Valley
Bright fresh cherry, great acid, supple tannins, juicy.

2012 PATEL Petit Verdot, Napa Valley
Exotic, mineral, fresh. Great acid.

2012 Odette Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
Juicy. Bright.

2012 Memento Mori "Beckstoffer Las Piedras" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
A hint of sweetness, cherry and cassis, juicy.

2012 J. Davies Estate "Jamie's Select" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District
2012 Jamieson Ranch Vineyards "Falabella" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
2012 Carter Cellars & Envy Wines Red Wine, Napa Valley
2012 Burgess Cellars "XL" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 O'Shaughnessy Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder
2012 Coho "Combination of the Two" Red Wine, Napa Valley
2012 Swanson Vineyards "Double Trouble" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 PEJU "Dapper RED" Red Wine, Napa Valley Nice balance.
2012 The Hess Collection Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder
Non-vintage Alta Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak
2012 Harbison Estate Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2001 Domaine Chandon "Blanc de Blanc" Sparkling Wine, Mount Veeder
2012 Farella Vineyard "Terrace Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville
2012 Bello Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Bevan Cellars & Chateau Boswell Winery "Rock On" Red Wine, Napa Valley
2012 HALL "Rainin Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District
2012 La Jota Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
2012 Joseph Phelps Vineyards "Backus Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville


WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9

2011 Vellum Wine Craft Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Old school. Green bell pepper, graphite, great acid, nice length. Not for everyone but quite nice.

2012 Groth Vineyards & Winery "Sweet Spot" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
Earthy cherry, somewhat narrow. Herbal finish.

2012 Gandona Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Black cherry, cassis, green bell pepper. Thick, powerful, deep.

2012 Nickel & Nickel "John C. Sullenger Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
Cherry, plum, oak. Pure fruit but a bit too much wood.

2012 Spring Mountain Vineyard "Terra Buena" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District
Bright, cherry, plush. Soft.

2012 Far Niente "Martin Stelling Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
Violet and cherry. Good acidity but narrower.

2012 Oakville East Exposure "Majek" Cabernet Franc, Oakville
Lush cherry plum. Cola. Faint tannins. Good acidity.

2012 Antica Napa Valley - Antinori Family Wine Estate "1425" Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak
Bit sulfurous at this point, but nice fruit.

2012 Signorello Estate "Cuvee Athena" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Very concentrated. A bit too ripe for my tastes.

2012 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
Massive tannins. Powerful.

2013 Hill Family Estate "Stewart Ranch" Pinot Noir, Napa Valley
Bright, juicy.

2012 Modus Operandi Cellars "Collection" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Slightly drying tannins.

2012 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards "Estate Reserve Block 6" Merlot, Napa Valley
Tasty, but a little heavy on oak.

2012 White Rock Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Very heavy oak, but good acidity and freshness.

2012 Robert Craig Winery "Upper Block" Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
Light on its feet. Elegant.

2012 Adler Deutsch Vineyard "ADV" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Nice green herbal notes.

2012 Jones Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
Very ripe.

2012 Courtesan "Veronica" Red Wine, Napa Valley
Juicy, bright, powerful tannins. Cherry, earth.

2012 Young Inglewood Vineyards "Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Cassis and cherry. Smooth.

2012 Tetra "Mountain Song" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Fairly sweet, but very pretty fruit.

2012 Hourglass Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
At once both jammy and fresh, with great acidity, and a menthol character.

2012 Wallis Family Estate "Rumpelstilskin" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Sweet, but juicy and bright. Very powdery tannins.

2012 Bell Wine Cellars "Clone 6, St. Martin Grande Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
A little sweet but quite pretty.

2012 Anomaly Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Thick tannins.

2013 Grgich Hills Estate "Miljenko's Old Vine" Chardonnay, Los Carneros
2012 V12 Vineyards "Twelve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Honig Vineyard & Winery "Westside Trio" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Newton Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Rich.
2012 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars "FAY Block 4" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Clos Du Val Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
2012 Alpha Omega "Dr. To Kalon" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
2012 Laird Family Estate "Flat Rock Ranch Proprietary Blend" Red Wine, Yountville
2012 Chimney Rock Winery "Cardiac Hillside " Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
2013 Saintsbury "Lee Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros
2012 Etude "Vine Hill Ranch" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2012 Coup De Foudre Winery "Lightning Bolt" Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
2012 Herold Wines & The Vineyardist Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District
2012 Sullivan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
2012 Erba Mountainside Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Purlieu Wines "Cachere" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville
2012 VinRoc Wine Caves "Coyote's Howl" Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak
2012 Hoopes Vineyard "Scion" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Conn Creek Winery "InCONNceivable" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District
2012 Caspar Estate Cabernet Franc, Rutherford
2012 Pahlmeyer Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Krupp Brothers "Doctor's Orders" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Tudal Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Silverado Vineyards "SOLO - Heritage Clone" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District

WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9

2012 Turnbull Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
Tight and bitter on the finish.

2012 Renteria Wines "Estate First and Last" Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder
Aggressive tannins

2012 Franciscan Estate "Lot 240" Petit Verdot, Oakville
Smells of grapey cassis and blackberry. Spicy bitterness on the palate. Hot finish.

2012 Sequoia Grove Winery "Estate Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
Oaky, drying tannins.

2012 Frias Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Lush, fruity, cherry.

2012 Aloft Wine Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
Sweet, rich, plush. Needs more acidity, but very pretty fruit.

2012 William Cole Vineyards "Hannah" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Cassis, good acid.

2012 Stone The Crows Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Quite ripe.

2012 Atalon Winery "Corestone Ridge" Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak
Green, massive tannins.

2012 Saunter Wines "HDT" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Sweet

2012 Dos Lagos Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak
Super-ripe.

2012 Peter Paul Wines "Mountaintop Secret Sauce" Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder
Ripe. Rich, powerful.


2012 Duckhorn Vineyards "Three Palms Vineyard Barrel Selection" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Foley Johnson Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
2012 Pavi Wines "Il Babbo" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Madrigal Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Hestan Vineyards "Stephanie" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Castello di Amorosa "Blend" Red Wine, Napa Valley
2013 Neal Family Vineyards Chardonnay, Rutherford
2012 Frank Family Vineyards "Winston Hill Block 5 (Heart Block) " Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford Quite sweet.
2012 Mira Winery "Stags Leap Dream" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
2013 Elizabeth Spencer Sauvignon Blanc, Rutherford
2012 Tamber Bey "Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2012 Ideology Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley
2012 Pine Ridge Vineyards "5x5" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2013 Artesa Winery "Block 91D" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros
2012 Pellet Estate Petit Verdot, St. Helena
2012 Mi Sueño Winery "Seleccion Herrera" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Trefethen Family Vineyards "Hillspring" Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5

2012 ROY Estate "Voix Basse - a whisper"Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Black cherry chocolate, plush, too jammy.

2012 Cain Vineyard & Winery "François' Pick" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District
Dark garnet, cedar, hint of barnyard, meaty umami.

2012 Tierra Roja Vineyards "Katharine's Blend" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
Cherry, floral. Body sweet, cassis, plum, cherry. Way too sweet.

2012 Fairchild Napa Valley "STONES No. 1" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Black cherry, raisins. Super ripe, raisined. A bit hot.

2012 Baldacci Family Vineyards "First Born" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
Drying tannins. Too much oak.

2012 Canard Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
Sweet, high toned.

2012 Merus "Bennett Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville
Plush, soft.

2012 Arrow &anp; Branch "Dr. Crane Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
Plush, slightly sweet.

2012 Stags' Leap Winery "Estate Grown" Red Wine, Stags Leap District
Tannic and sulfurous.

2012 Pulido~Walker "THE POSSIBLE" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Jammy, sweet

2012 Croze Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
Over-oaked.

2012 Chateau De Vie Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
Very ripe, somewhat short.

2012 Taylor Family Vineyards "The Tower " Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
Too much oak

2012 Altra Wines "Heritage Block" Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley
Super ripe. Thick tannins.

2012 Silver Oak Cellars "six" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Bennett Lane Red Wine, Napa Valley
2012 Black Stallion Estate Winery "Unison" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Hiatus Cellars "Core Balance" Red Wine, Napa Valley
2012 Porter Family Vineyards "Lion's Lair" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville
2012 Titus Vineyards "Crema di Venti Dodici" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Non-vintage Sciandri Family Vineyards "Odds On Favorite" Red Wine, Coombsville
2012 Trinchero Napa Valley "East to West, Mountain to Mountain Cuvée" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Robert Biale Vineyards "San Marco" Petite Sirah, Napa Valley
2012 Boeschen Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
2012 Paoletti Estates Winery Malbec, Calistoga

WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5

Non-vintage ZD Wines "Petit Abacus" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Heavy oak, raisined, sweet.

2012 Twomey "82:12" Merlot, Napa Valley
Soft.

2011 Napa Angel Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley
Raisined.

2012 RD Winery "Elegant Melange" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Super ripe.


WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8

2012 Emblem Wines "Oso Vineyard Barrel Selection" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Massive, over extracted.

Comments (4)

02.28.14 at 12:31 PM

Alder, it was great seeing you again at PNV. As can be expected, we differ on a few of our opinions, but I'm glad to see that we both thought the Corison was at the top of the PNV heap. Cathy really put a nice wine together this year!

Stuart Spoto wrote:
03.01.14 at 8:42 AM

Nice seeing you at the Oakville Preview Tasting! I am glad you enjoyed our Oakville Malbec. It was interesting offering the only Oakville Malbec but we were very pleased that it was so well received. We are flattered and honored by your nice review of our wine!

Cheers,
Stuart & Christy Spoto

Emily Richer wrote:
03.01.14 at 7:22 PM

Great wrap. I for one appreciate the skill and discipline required to present the broader perspective on the event for those not familiar with it, and to drill down with exceptional focus on each of our individual offerings. The notes make me feel like I got to walk the room myself with a glass.

gary wrote:
03.08.14 at 2:00 PM

Thanks, Alder for the notes on these wines and this event. Those like me who are now far away appreciate them for our vacation dreams.

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