Simply a spectacular wine; a Napa prototype for fabulous Cabernet. Cassis, tobacco and cedar commingle on the nose, followed by luscious cassis fruit that’s backed up by exemplary barrel notes—both in flavor and in texture. So smooth and deft, it’s the epitome of class. Give it about five years in the cellar and then indulge.
A brilliant Merlot that excites for the way it straddles the line between ultraripe fruit and more subtle, earthy tones. The taste of perfectly ripened cherries is sweet and pure, and mingles with plums, peppery spice and green olives. The oak is heavy, but this wine loves it. Finally, the tannins are fabulously sweet and rich.
Another huge ’99. It is very dark and lavishly oaked, aged in 100% new French barrels. The immediate aroma is of vanilla and toast, while the palate experience is of oak and dry tannins that numb the palate through the finish. There is a core of blackberry fruit that is solid and dense, the result of very low yields. This pricy wine is not drinkable now, unless…
You’ll want to cellar this wine. The tannins roadblock everything, leaving behind a hard astringency. Fortunately there’s rich currant and blackberry fruit, but it needs at least until 2010 to express itself, and could easily hold twice as long.
The Northern Rhone is the model here. Opens with a burst of white pepper and blackberry flavors, well oaked, and turns rich, big and long in the mouth, with powerful blackberry, cherry and oak flavors. The tannins are pronounced and negotiable. Probably best now.
Butter and vanilla wrap around tropical fruit and citrus flavors on the full nose. Baked apples, crème caramel and abundant new oak merge to provide this chard with a slightly viscous, buttery texture. Its rich butter and oak may be a bit too much for some. The tangy finish is long and tasty.
From Carneros, a dark, young, meaty wine that’s almost a meal in a bottle. What you get is a potpourri of cherry, mushroom, meat, sundried tomato, anise and dill, with accents of smoky oak. Drinks long and smooth in the mouth, although there’s a little place in the middle palate that’s hollow, and tough tannins kick in on the finish.
A dark wine that opens with earthy aromas of wild forest berries, grilled meat, and anise and other herbs, and turns fruity and earthy in the mouth. It is very dry, with rich currant and berry flavors, and a rich overlay of oak.