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CLONYC #3 - Small Production Gems (8/3/2006)

Thanks everyone for a great night. The company was fantastic. Some new friends were made, some great wines were consumed, and wonderful food was served by smiling professionals. The wine director at Zoe, Scott oversaw the whole shebang with tireless enthusiasm.

My notes are not really notes, but more like a synopsis. It was great to taste some interesting wines that normally would not have crossed my path. Thanks all.

Here goes.................

2002 Cobb Pinot Noir. I was concerned about having one pinot around monsterous wines. I exchanged pms with Kevin, and he had no problem with leaving it. Nor did I. I am glad we did. It was an amazing wine that improved for the hour I left it in my glass. A bit disjointed at first, but then it started to remind me of some great Gevreys I have had form Magnien. Great full bodied red fruit, ultra smooth tannins, and a middle of style and soil. (Magnien is one of the very few producers in that region that I buy, not being such a big Pinot guy). Kevin mentioned that it was his last bottle and I know it was a sacrafice for him to bring. 92

1994 M Coz. This opened with a subdued nose of dried fruits, a deep garnet color and fine intergrated tannins. A little heat at the end. I kind of liked this wine, I am not sure its worth what Cheryl paid though. When compared to the next blend (Facets) its actually 2x the price. 87

2003 Gemstone Facets. This had a wonderful deep dark color. the palate revealed a super finessful wine of breed. I really enjoyed this. I thought the rest of the nights selections would have to work hard to measure up. 93

1996 Sherwin. This seemed a bit vegetal, It had great balance, but seemed a bit off. Also seemed a bit rustic to me. 86

1997 Phelps Backus. This is one I was really looking foward to. Just coming off the Insignia vertical 6 weeks ago I stll had memories of the standouts that night. This had great dark fruit, nice intergrated tannins and alot of class. I liked this better than the '97 Insignia (which I sold after the vertical). The similarity of winemakers was there, the source of the fruit differs, but it was hard to tell. 91

1998 Livingston Gemstone. Out of the two 'off' vintages in tonights line up, and I have rarely had a '98 that I have loved.. this showed well though. Some decent structure and style, but the vintage kept coming through with a certain manufacturedness. I am on the fence with this one. Interesting to get the Gemstone fruit. I give it an 89. It has a good beat and you can dance to it.

2000 Carter Cellars Beckstoffer. This seemed like a processed wine to me. I have had many 2000s and most have the same quality. Even the Insignia. I guess as a winemaker you can only work with what you get from Mother Nature. The further away we get from 2000, the better we all are. n/r

2003 Schrader Beckstoffer. I did not understand how this became WOTN. It was a great wine with lots of sweet dark chewy tannined fruit. a decent finish, but I still had memories of the Gemstones breeding, trying to forget the Merlot % in the Gemstone, I tried to be fair. A sleeper.

2003 Harris Estate Jakes Vnyd. Closed for business (even much with decanting). Deep dark fruit on the nose and palate, wonderful balance shown through only with lots of coaxing. This had more stuffing than my moms Thanksgiving Turkey, but much time is needed (cellar and decanter). I have had this twice before. It is a perennial favorite that I will watch closely. 90

2004 Realm Farella. This is the wine I anticipated most. I was worried when Ben mentioned it was still in the shipping system as of the morning of the tasting. No bottle shock present. It opened with an explosive dose of deep dark fruit, on the palate there is a certain bramble quality that I like. A wildness that if I close my eyes I can swear I am in the vineyard on a warm breezy day and every once in a while I sense honeysuckle coming up at me and when the breeze changes I turn to recapture it. Do you think I liked this? I do. I had this at the Realm open house a few weeks back and loved it immediately. If this is representaive of the 2004 vintage, please please bring 'em on. (Walt, If I knew your glass was half full as mine sat half empty, I would have alleviated you of it) 94

2004 Scholium Project Syrah Scythia. I am with Ben on this one. A party in a bottle. The nose alone is worth the price of admission. This guy Abe is either a genius or a madman. (or both?) 90

2004 Scholium Project Petite Sirah Babylon. Even with 9 days of double triple decanting. This wine was still closed. Anticipated maturity 3025-3090 n/r


CLONYC #2 - The Insignia Vertical Tasting

First of all I want to thank everyone for being part of this amazing tasting. As Cheryl mentioned, the company was great. The converstaion and bantor was fun. I even tried to vote twice for the '96, but the group would not have it. I only wish it were a big round table. I like being within earshot of everyone. The long tables are tough. My complaining ends there! I want to thank Holt for giving us the oppurtunity to have a complete vertical, even with his being unable to make it. He offered up at cost his '97 and '98.

A great group you all are! Primarily it's the people who make the night. Then the wine and food.

Speaking of which. The food was great. Zoe did an impeccable job on service and presentaion. I did micro-manage a bit (a real tiny bit), and they handled it well.

And now the wines. A wonderful slice of this great prop. blend follows.

'91 Opened with old Cab qualities, dried fruit, sulphur? An decent wine and interesting to have it in the line-up and for the coming comparisons as we moved to the youngers wines. 87/100

'92 A little funky on the nose. On the palate there was an earthy-minerality that reminded me of an old Graves. There were traces red fruit. bit more tannins than the '91. 86/100

'93 This was my wine of the flight. It had good fruit, nice acid and smooth tannins. My only complaint was that it was a bit 'short'. Still no slouch! 90/100

'94 This one had some anteseptic qualities and maybe a touch of brett. I think it may be have ben flawed. not rated

'95 Full round mouthfeel. Great fruit with medium weight tannins Currant, cassis, and multi dimensional. I enjoyed this wine. 90/100

'96 To me this was the 'breakout' Insignia. New world Cab (Cab blend) style. Great balance. Beautiful dark fruit. Acid and tannins meshed to create an amazing long finish. Back the truck up. WOTF 92/100

'97 Great body, with a super mouthfeel. Nice dark fruit evident. I liked the length of this one. Still from all I have recently read about this wine I feel it did not show full potential. 91/100

'98 An interesting wine unto itself. One dimensional with nice med dark fruit. The thing about this wine was many felt as I did that served on its own would be a very nice wine, but we are known by the company we keep and there was some stiff competition in the room wine. 5 grape blend ( I believe). Possibly The best '98 I have ever had. 89/100

'99 Now we are talking. Great nose of truffles. An amazing fullness on the palate. Showed its breed. Good dark fruit. Nice balance. My wine of the flight. Glad I have some in my cellar. 92.5/100

'00 Another wine that reminded me of the '98. Great nose, good minerality, great red fruit/cherry. Very nice for the vintage. 89/100

'01 Fantastic. Smooth. Dark fruit, currant, mocha, dark cherry. I love this wine. Did I say fantastic? Easily my WOTF and WOTN. 94/100

'02 Oh, the ohtwo....... yes the ohtwo. This one was a bit closed. But understandable. It has the makings for a long lived wine. Great tannin/acid/fruit meshing happening here. Smooth full mouthfeell. I guess everyone wants to see what the fuss is here. WS Wine of the year and all. Makes me wonder. Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful wine, but NOT wine of the year. 91/100

Jim hit the nail on the head here "It was interesting to see Insignia change from a more Bordeaux styled wine from 1991 to 1995, then to a Bordeaux Cali blend and then in 2002 to a more riper style"

My note taking leaves something to be desired. More like a summation.

Thank you again Cheryl, Nano, Ben, Jeff, Cindy, Jeff, Gary, Kevin, Dan, Jim, and Greg.