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12/19/12

CLONYC's Holiday Bash-CLONYC 34

Last night we gathered for CLONYC 34-The Holiday Bash.
12 of the usual suspects bringing whatever they wanted to bring. No rules.
What we got was a myriad of all things Cab. We got old stuff, and new. Black fruit and blue.

I have an recent edict I would like to share: Any Bordeaux that finds its way into one of my dinners will only do so under a cloak of aluminum unbeknownst to me. Last night that was put to the test.

5 flights, 14 wines (16 with a 2001 Dunhoff and a 2004 Hartford Court Chardonnay Seascape thrown in). 4 flights of 3 wines and 1 flight of 2 wines. A merry time was had. Onward I go.

The Blind Flight

1998 Allegro Vineyards Cadenza (blend - 96 cabernet Sauvignon) York County, PA.- This was very interesting as it showed some age and was very expressive. I get some red fruits of cherries and raspberry with some cedar shavings, soy and cardamom. I figure it to be about 20 years old as it showed some brown on the edges and seemed pretty much fully resolved. I was thinking maybe something like a Spottswoode partially because I know Steve and part because I have seen some older Spottswoodes show like such. Some said new age Bordeaux. An outlier to start the evening. Never seen that before. 89

1999 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Herb Lamb- pretty nose of spring flowers with a touch of vanilla. This is lively and youthful still with a deep black core and perfect balance. Interestingly enough, as it sat it developed a slight popcorn nose. Very nice. 93

1994 Château Léoville Las Cases- this was funky and dirty with a drying woodiness. Dump.

The group loved the Karl Lawrence and gave it 8 votes for WOTF. The Cadenza came in second with 9 second place votes and 3 first place votes. The Bordeaux had 1 first place (The ‘bringer’) and 1 second place vote.

The ‘Little of this little of that’ flight

2003 Dominus Estate- Elegant red black fruited nose with graceful lines. Red cherries, raspberry and cassis driven with a touch of cola and graphite. Very nice if just slightly outclassed on the night. 90

2003 Cayuse Cabernet Sauvignon The Widowmaker En Chamberlin Vineyard- very distinctive cool climate style with some blue-black fruits. Not much of a set of bones though and acidity seems non-existent. Faded quickly as well. 88

2004 Buccella Cabernet Sauvignon- These are always fun to taste. Tonight’s had too much plushness and an almost candy-cane feel to it. I have had this 4 or 5 times and this is the worst showing yet. (Still have 2 more!) 88

The ‘new world sandwiches old world’ flight

2005 Bevan Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Showket Vineyards- This was a bit contentious with the left hand side of the table. I like the big boned structure this shown. Some said too much oak, to which I said….so? I never see oak as an issue, especially when it goes in its diverse flavor explosion and brings other interesting thing. This was pure and fragrant. 91

2006 Mayacamas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon- A bit one dimensional and ‘pedestrian’ for me tonight. (I love that word). Red black fruits and varietally correct, but since when is that just good enough? 89

2007 Greer Cabernet Sauvignon Greer Vineyard- This was full throttle with big black fruits of currants, black berries and plums. I got some nice warm vanilla notes, cedar and graphite but this really shined when the steak hit the table and became the mustard sauce’s best friend. Wow. 91

The Bevan got 5 votes for WOTF, the Mayacamas got 5 as well. The Greer the last 2. Voting for the second position was pretty even across the board. I Chose the Bevan in the number one spot and Greer as number 2.

The 2007 redemption flight

2007 Beringer Private Reserve-(served blind) beautiful creamy texture with pretty floral notes, this has much going for it tonight. I guess placement is important but had this been served in any of the top 6 positions, it would have been a contender. 92

2007 Ovid- Late night wines never show as well as they should/could. I liked the mouth-feel and presence of this one. Great dark fruits sitting on a feminine set of pretty bones. Nice.92+

This flight of two (Should have had the Realm in there had I not forgotten it atop the ice) had the Ovid outpacing the Beringer, 7 to 5.

The ‘Super Star Winemakers’ flight

2008 Seven Stones- I am a fan of Aarons wines. This had a beautiful showing, I just wish I could read my notes. I do know that it was my WOTF. 93

2010 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon Panek Vineyard- The 2009 was probably my wine of the year for 2012 (and I have had some awesome stuff this year) I was both excited and a bit apprehensive to open this tonight; If the 2009 RM Panek was any sort of indicator, this really needed 24 a hour slow-ox. There was much going on in the 2009 that it was mind boggling. As this sat in my glass is just blossomed into an expression of pure cabernet seldom encountered. I did not actually choose if as my WOTN because I know it has not shown itself fully and I will be patient and hold out my final determination at a later date. Lucky me to have 4 stored away. 92+

2006 Realm Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard- OK, I am guilty of letting this sit on ice for too long. These have long been favorites of mine. This has some dark sweet currants, cocoa powder, cola and more. Pure and long, with balance and grace. Tannins are intricate and well resolved, but this should have a decent life ahead of it, especially if the Mayans were wrong. 91

The Realm garnered 6 votes for WOTF. The Seven Stones 4 and the Rivers-Marie 2. Should have slow-ox’d.

In an unscientific vote for wine of the night, the Karl Lawrence came out with 4 votes (me too) which tells me everyone had a good time as the rest is just scribble on a wine stained page……

10/9/12

CLONYC 33- A few of Napas new releases with Merrill Lindquist

About a month ago Merrill Lindquist emailed me to tell me she will be visiting NY for a holiday after harvesting her 2012 EMH Black Cat wine. She asked if we had a CLONYC scheduled for that week she was visiting that she can join in on, to which I replied ‘no, but I can make one’. I did.


I thought to keep it simple in theme and just make it a new release thing, since Merrill herself would be bringing her new releases, the 2010 duo of Cabernet Sauvignons. Reason more to enjoy friends, wines and food is never needed.



As it turned out, we were 10 men and a lady. It was a fun evening. As usual, the food was great and the wines, although youthful showed pretty good indeed. The youngest cabenet was a 2008. We did have a 1996 Champagne starter (thanks Brent).
Let me get to it. Please keep in mind these are more of an impression than a formal notes with the consensus of who liked what at the end of the flights.

2010 Maybach Materium- Quite possible the best Materium to date, and there have been some doozies (spelling?). Tremendous black fruits profile. The nose was slightly less expressive from my half ounce taste when I opened it and quickly recorked at noon. The palate showed more cohesiveness though. Pure and elegant with so much plush fruits amidst a superstructure. And a super long pure finish. Simple marvelous. The group loved it too.

2010 Maybach Amoenus- An interesting sibling to the Materium, this showed a bit more edgy and tight. Tannins giving up little. More of a red fruit profile, I firmly think these are made for the distance while you are enjoying the Materiums in the here, now and handful of years ahead. A beautiful drink of wine she is and promises to be.

Flight 2

2008 Pott Wine Cabernet Sauvignon Incubo - This started strong with a pretty nose of flowers and reddish black fruits. Palate showed a big tannic wine that belied the nose. This handled food nicely. Not sure what the makeup of this wine is. I sense there may be some cab franc in the mix. As it sat it became more fleshed out and approachable. I continue to be a fan and want to experience the complete lineup at some point as I only had the Acteon to compare it to which I though had slightly more grace.

2008 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Annum- This started out a bit one dimensional with a dry streak right down the middle. Some nice black fruits of blackberries and currants shown through. As it sat in the glass it just blossomed into a pretty and nicely balanced Cab that added a dimension and a smile from me. This needs lots of time DOH!

2008 Bacio Divino Cabernet Sauvignon Janzen Missouri Hopper Vineyard- this one seemed a bit outclassed tonight. I got an immediate greenness cutting across the middle. Some seemed to get a eucalyptus, and I think as it sat it certainly gained some weight and the mint tone. In all fairness it became dump number 1. Too bad.

The group put the Pott in the number 1 spot with 5 votes. The Ramey got 4 and the Janzen received 2 which prove I really have no clue.

For my vote it was the Ramey that edged out the Pott with the additional glass time I gave it.

Flight 4

2008 Hourglass Cabernet Sauvignon- When it comes to this label, I usually gravitate toward the Blueline bottling. This showed great blackberries, black plum and some kirsch. It also seemed to get lost in this crowd tonight. A pretty wine that showed some gracefulness and balance, just not achieving the greatness I expected. Settings like these are really unfair toward wines like this, one that begs to be your only date for the night.

2008 Gemstone Estate Red - aka ‘G’- Another label that I have had some hit and misses with in the last bunch of years. Large boned and dark as night, this had some wonderful notes of fresh flowers, crème de cassis and framboise. Balance was lilty and finish long. It took some glass time but then this really became more fragrant and pure. A nice long finish, I was loving it.

2008 Kobalt – pretty flamboyant nose of red fruits. Think raspberries and cherry liquor. Plushy and silky, this also seemed a bit outclassed tonight.

The group pretty much split this one with 5 votes Hourglass and 5 votes for Gemstone. The single lone-wolf being the Kobalt. Interesting flight. My WOTF was the Gemstone.

Notice how the sparse notes fall apart here? Eight wines with 1 dump will do that to you.

Merrills flight

2010 EMH Black Cat Cabernet Sauvignon (opened earlier that day)- CLONYC hosted Merrill and her wine three years back. That night I met her 2007 EMH Black Cat. This one seems somewhat in line with that vintage---to me. It had the boisterousness I enjoy. Nicely balanced with some minerality and notes graphite and cola. Certainly a different style than many on the table tonight, to me more in sync with a more classically structured Cabernet, one made for aging. What you don’t get is the big plushy round stuff but you do get pure cassis driven reddish black fruits and the minerality.

2010 EMH Black Cat Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection - larger boned and slightly more austere, again one made for the cellar. Would love to try this in about 5 years.

2010 EMH Black Cat Cabernet Sauvignon (Pop-N-pour)- A little science project we had going here. See if there is a more rambunctious nose on this on sans slow-ox. It was brighter and slightly more primary. Interesting. My WOTF and 5 others agreed. Thanks for bring these Merrill.

Flight 6 …things so slightly sideways.

2008 Buccella Cab Cuvee Katrina Eileen -Ok, so here we are at wine number 12. Now, if this was the number 2 or even 10 wine tonight, it may have battled the Materium for first place. May have. It was super pure, ultra plushy and pillow like with so much to like. It screamed drink me. I yelled back ENOUGH!

2009 Kapscandy Grand Vin- this was the most Euro-like tonight. I got a bit of dirt amidst some nice black cherry and plums. Do we call it terroir in Napa? If so, too much. Dump.

2009 Outpost Cabernet Sauvignon True Vineyard- This is one of the more consistent labels out there. I have always been a fan of the True vineyard Cabernet Thomas produces. Somewhere between old and new world for sure--- at least to me. The mountain fruits is evident. And in my estimation these do benefit from some cellar time. Maybe the most contentious on the table tonight, but hey, it’s like wine number 40 or something. Give it a break.

Blind wine- As if we needed more wine, Steve was gracious enough to bring a blind wine. It was certainly cooler climate Cabernet , that much I can still tell. Beyond that I knew it was pretty great and it was a 2009 Quilceda Creek.

WOTN voting commenced with the 2010 Materium garnering 8, possibly 9 votes (Howard left just before the vote, he did choose Materium in flight #1)

Thanks to everyone for a great night. Today I move….slowly.

7/27/12

CLONYC 32- Russell Bevan Part Deux

I had knowledge about last night’s weather ‘situation’ that most in the tri-state did not have: I knew a tornado was coming to New York 2 since months back. No, I am not a meteorologist, I am a wine lover who resides over one of the most exciting cabernet loving tasting groups this side of the Mississippi and I had Russell Bevan and his wines scheduled for a whirlwind dinner.
Last evening our group had that good fortune materialize. If you’ve never met Russell, you are missing out on one of the most vivacious, passionate and opinionated guys the Valley has produced. His approach is unique.  As an added bonus, last night he brought with him Jim McDonough from Wren Hop vineyards.  Jim is a very unassuming and friendly fellow who farms some amazing vineyards in the Sonoma County. His Chardonnay are a revelation and his Pinots should be on everyone’s list to try and oh yeah, Russell makes them. I must admit, the dude has some talent. (I will empty my inbox for all the thanks I expect in the next few months)

The skies darkened and the rains fell.
Lightning flashed and oh yeah, stuff was going on outside as well.. 6 flights and I want to thank Russell and Jim for their graciousness in supplying my humble group with world class vino. Let the whirlwind begin.

Wren Hop Wines with Jim McDonough, Prop.

2010 Wren Hop Chardonnay Trial by Lightning- beautifully fragrant with beautiful notes of sweet lemongrass and Meyer lemon. Maybe one of the best Chardonnays I have encountered. A must buy. ($48)

2010 Wren Hop Chardonnay Rebels & Martyrs- I found more minerality on this and it seemed more in line with a traditional RR Chardonnay than its sibling. Focused and pure with hints of honeysuckle and lemon peel. When served alongside the above wine you certainly have a something for everyone situation.

2009 Wren Hop Pinot Noir Omens & Prophecy- Holy crap! This is one amazingly fragrant Pinot! Round and intense with hints of blackberry, strawberry and smoke. I also get a touch of petroleum, star anise and cardamom. This is an estate wine; it shows breed, structure, focus and elegance all wrapped in a layer of power. A very distinctive wine. Loved it. A must buy. ($60)

2009 Wren Hop Pinot Noir Siren's Lure- More typical in its Sonoma Coast styling. Nose of cola, black daspberry and spring flowers. Slightly less exuberant than its brother above.



Bevan wines with Russell Bevan
Russell’s second visit with CLONYC and I must say, this years assortment show much more cohesiveness as a group. His whole lineup is fantastic but his Cab Franc based wines are some of the best I have sampled yet. He certainly is able to coax some amazing aromatics from this grape. I also notice a slightly more containment of signs of oak in this years array overall.

2009 Bevan Cellars Prop. Red, Sugarloaf Mountain, NV, The Whitney- here we go! This 50/50 blend Cab Franc/Merlot is simply put: downright amazing. Black fruited and creamy textured with attractive notes of chocolate. This wines rises from the glass and attacks all the senses. On paper, I might have doubted such a blend but in reality this just…..rocks. wow.

2010 Bevan Cellars Prop. Red, Sugarloaf Mountain, NV, The Oscar- same blend, year later. Sweeter black and blue fruit profile with the same chocolate notes running right through the middle. Slightly less fragrant, this is an elegant and pure wine that keeps in line for what was being aimed at: joy. As this sat and we got into dinner, it really shined. I loved how it became playful with my steaks mustard sauce accompaniment. I would love to see where this one goes in a year

2009 Bevan Cellars Red Wine Showket Vineyard, Oakville, The Curmudgeon- How can you not love a wine named for yourself? This is a 67/33 blend of Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon. Nose of pure black and blue fruits. This is a cornucopia of all things gone right: cassis, black cherry and framboise with hints of sweet cardamom. Mouth feel is full and tannins complicated. In keeping with a theme, I get a certain elegance, but this time it brought its iron glove. Loved it.

2010 Bevan Cellars Red Wine Showket Vineyard, Oakville, EE Cuvée-  With all I just said above, I found this one lacking slightly behind. It’s a serious wine that came across slightly typical. You are as good as the company you keep and this one suffered slightly by some rock stars that came before it. Big boned and super structured. Would love to have it alone in about 2-3 years. (50/50 CF/CS)

2009 Bevan Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Showket Vineyard, Oakville, Bab’s Cuvée- Big boned with great black and red fruits, this one brings great black currant, plum pumice, blackberry and cherry cola.  Lush and deep with a solid core of blackness. Tannins remain in check and finish goes on and on. A few years should reveal a prize for those lucky enough to have buried them away; the perfect bottle to forget you had and surprised to find when company arrives for dinner circa 2016.

2010 Harbison Wines Cabernet sauvignon- Here is one Russell split the output of: 37.5 cases to Russell and the same under the Harbison label. – This is a cabernet lovers cab: deep dark fruits with depth and intensity. I can still taste this in my minds palate. Fragrant and giving, this explodes as it sits for some time. What you end up with is being fully engulfed in black currant, crème de cassis, hints of cola, cardamom and more. This one packs a quiet punch for sure. Long and true, this glides along the tongue with some silkiness and purity. On my very short (these days) list to buy. Not inexpensive at $140 though….

2010 Bevan Cellars Ontogeny Oakville, Red Wine- this one perplexed me. Its Russell’s Bordeaux blend. It seems somewhat out of place with all else that came before. I know it’s pretty highly regarded in the world of winos. It seemed a bit ‘manufactured’ and it does not have the focus, purity or delivery its senior siblings have.


4/28/12

CLONYC 31 - The Wines of Mike Smith

Little did I ever think CLONYC would go beyond No. 3, but here we are, No. 31.

It’s been a pretty amazing ride, all five years of it. I have made many new friends, learned tons about Cabernet and met some pretty amazing people, most notably some of Napa’s (and beyond!) best and brightest stars.


When I was offered the opportunity to host Mike Smith and his wines I did not blink a blink, having been a fan of his wines. Just recently I made the self-determination that his Quivet label produces one of the single best Syrahs available for under forty dollars (the Las Madres kisks butt). It even competes with many Syrahs twice its price. 
Mike has graced our humble group with beautiful wife, Leah.  Together they make the dynamic team of Mike and Leah Smith, winemakers.  I figure she’s the brains, while he’s the brawn.  Nicer people you could never hope to meet. I know it sound cliché, but trust me on this, passionate, intelligent, talented, fun-loving and down right just fantastic folk! 

So it was to be, 12 hungry and thirsty souls met on a chilly late April afternoon to mix it all up; 16 of Mike’s wines, lots of great grub and good humor was the theme.



Whites

2011 Ten 70 Green Sauvignon Blanc – MCG Cellars- yep, it’s green. At least when compared to the two that followed. It’s also awesome. Wonderful green melon, ripe citrus and fresh cut grass. Pure and precise, this is one I will proudly serve (If I can find!) on my deck this summer.
2011 Myriad Semillon Blanc – Great golden color with a pretty nose of flowers and lemon grass.  Deftly balanced and mouth coating. Hints of honey blossom and citrus. Just fantastic.
2011 Quivet Sauvignon Blanc- Similar in style to the Myriad showing slightly more fragrant. Another pure and well balanced refreshing wine.


Syrahs

2010 Myriad Las Madres Syrah- Blue and black fruits with great mid weight mouth feel. Notes of peppercorns, some dried herbs and earth.  Love the texture on this. Tannins are a bit chewy, this drinks wonderfully right now. Would love to taste this in 2 years. Interesting to taste this alongside the Quivet below.
2010 Quivet Las Madres Syrah – This has quickly become my single most favorite currently available Syrah anywhere. Mind boggling good for $38! Deft cool climate Syrah with a roundness and texture unlike most others. I get some tapenade, cardamom, crushed stones, flint and roasted meat. More akin to a Northern Rhone than the Myriad. Balance is awesome with complicated but behaved tannins and a perfect acidity that makes this food friendly. Finish remains true. Glad I have a stash, just how to keep my hands off remains the only problem.

2008 Cabernets Sauvignons

2008 Myriad Georges III Cabernet Sauvignon- Black fruit driven, this has wonderful approachability for its age. Boysenberries, blackberries and currant control the ride. This is pure, silky and focused. Hints of cocoa powder and framboise seep in well. Love a long deep black fruit finish. My Cab-joy ride is lifting off!
2008 Quivet Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon- Usually not one to gravitate toward Spring Mountain wines, this defies my past belief that they are 'not to my style preference'. I love the poise and focus of this black fruit driven wine that has a line of elegance streaking right down the middle.  This has fantastic structure. Love how it sort of floats across the palate with deftness and grace, but make no mistake this has power and potential to go long. Love it. Initially my number 2 on the flight, it quickly became my number one.
2008 Quivet Kenefick Cabernet Sauvignon- On nose alone I was in love. This had a creamy fragrant nose that captured my attention quickly.  Palate showed a more feminine styled wine than the previous two in the same flight. Hints of mocha, cherries, cardamom and violets. This bordered being a lighter weight Cab. As it sat I realized it was changing, maybe even getting redder. That was the sole reason the Spring Mountain moved into my number one.  Beautiful nonetheless.


2009 Cabernets Sauvignons

2009 Myriad Dr. Crane Cabernet Sauvignon- I don’t know much, but I do know Dr. Crane Cabernet when I taste it. This was a wow wine for me. Black fruits with crème de cassis is what this is all about, especially once you add a creamy mid-palate. Focused and pure, this is both elegant and muscular. Deftly balanced with hints of black plums, black & red currant and lead pencil shavings. Awesome. Deep and fragrant. I loved the smoothness and roundness. I quickly realized that I could have just found my WOTN!
2009 12C Georges III Cabernet Sauvignon- reddish black wine that seemed slightly outclassed amongst the Myriads and Quivets. Always one to be honest with our all of our winemaking guests/friends, I have been known to hold nothing back; I questioned Mike on this wine: What gives? He told me another site/parcel will be added in the future to add dimension.  I would not mind trying that one.  This one was a bit one dimensional with an almost ‘pedestrian’ style (man, I hate that word). One to watch.
2009 Scarlett Cabernet Sauvignon- This is the wine Sherri had in Boca and was excited to have me try. It was a bit reminiscent of the Kenefick above: a redder style Cab (I believe there’s Merlot in this one) with a soft note that runs through it. I got some great purity and seamlessness on this. Notes of cardamom, cherry cola, graphite and cocoa powder. Finely delineated and precise, this was fantastic, but that’s the thing about having 10 fantastic wines on the table, we start rating in levels of fantasticness. Seems easier than it is, trust me.
Did I tell you about that Dr. Crane?  Oh, you heard it already? Never mind, I’ll move on…

Carter Cabernets Sauvignons
2009 Carter To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon- Interesting to see what Mike has done with these.  This one was a bit more in your face than anything before it. Pure blackberries, cassis, currant, and dark black raspberry. Full figured and built to age, this has big boned, chewy tannins and super length. Balance, strength and flash. One to keep an eye of for.
2009 Carter Coliseum Block Cabernet Sauvignon- the most distinctive Cab on the night. I found it deftly balanced with maybe a hint of menthol running through it? Something I could not quite put my finger on (late in the night you know!). What I did know is I liked it. No, loved it, a lot. Deep black red cab fruits with some Kirsch Royal, cocoa and graphite.  Long finish that goes to the redder side.  Awesome.


Barrel sample flights. (Thanks to Leah for wanting to include these.)

2010 Myriad Dr. Crane Cabernet Sauvignon (barrel sample) - Bright black fruits with hints of vanilla, soy and cardamom, this was pure and finely woven. Texturally a Dr. Crane, but youth has kept it from blossoming fully. (Da!)
2010 Carter 3 Kings Cabernet Sauvignon (barrel sample)– A new one coming at ya! A bit softer with hints of lanolin, graphite and vanilla. As usual, barrel samples are difficult at best to discern but this has great stuffing and potential. I will check it out when available. Could be interesting.
2010 Quivet Kenefick Cabernet Sauvignon (barrel sample) - So, this being wine number 16, all I can say is…..Really? Please remove me from the oven, I am done.

Next day revisit of two.
My WOTN, the 2008 Quivet Spring Mountain with 24 hour 'open time'. Amazing balance still rules this one. Nose has an added element of lead pencil shavings, tar and black raspberries. It's taken on a bit of weight. Tannins more resolved and acidity slightly more apparent. I have placed this on my list of things to seek out.


24 hours opened as well. If this 7 ounces of wine in my glass is any indication of where this will be in a few years time, the 2010 Quivet Kenefick is friggin awesome! WOW. This has fleshed out (from what I can remember) and delivers such an abundance of good Cab stuff. Dense, black, deep, fragrant, elegant, wow.


I can smell the empty glass from a foot away and its fragrant, sweet and pure. Holy crap!!! BTW! (buy this wine). I will get all I can.

All great wines indeed. Mike is most excited about his 2010s. He thinks they will bring to the table the best of both 2008 and 2009s. I am going to have to believe him on this.

These are wines that will need your serious consideration going forward. With great QPR andsite destinction I predict only amazing things will happen from here.

Great night!
A big CLONYC thank you to Mike & Leah!

3/30/12

CLONYC Thirty - Steve Pride and Pride Mountain Vineyards

CLONYC Thirty goes into the books as a huge success--- huge.
Steve Pride ventured east to meet with a very eager and excited group, bringing with him a boatload of wine. We approached this one slightly different: we had a mini vertical of Reserves, a flight of Merlots and Cabernets from the same vintage respectively. (2007 for the Merlots, and 2005 for the Cabernets). These flights were bookended with some pretty tasty whites: A Chardonnay up front and a dessert wine, Mistelle de Viognier taking up the rear. As usual, the food was spot on and service truly fantastic. Our little private room always lends to some lively discussion. Steve is an awesome guy whose passion for the family business, and especially wine is obvious from first greeting. Thank you, Steve for your generosity and company. All in all a great night was had by all.

We started the night with the 2010 Pride Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay. A beautiful wine that has perfect balance with hints of cream. Sexy and fragrant, I don’t remember tasting a Chardonnay from pride quite like it.












1997 Pride Mountain Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon- Once opened and sampled 3 hour earlier, Steve mentioned that he was worried this was showing its age. Let me tell you: It certainly did not seem like that once we got to it. It was all black fruits with a finely delineated lush light to mid-weight mouth-feel that just said elegance and breed. I found hints of cocoa, cola, graphite and more. It was simply beautiful. The problem with being beautiful and in the number 1 position sets you up to want to make it a sort of yardstick going forward; wait until we get to the 1999. This has 4% PV in it. Great balance and long finish. 93 points

1999 Pride Mountain Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon- I love to see my friends reaction when I shock them in my likes/dislikes; once the word went around that this was ‘very Bordeaux-like’, I can sense the snickers and silent thought of ‘he won’t like it, Mikey hates everything’. Wrong. I love this! It has a subdued sweet note that really caught my attention. This wine is exact and refined with notes of cedar, leather and tar. I sensed some graphite as well. 2% PV in here. Balance impeccable and just slightly more structured than the 1997 with certain family re semblance, it rocked. Long, elegant, precise, and deft. Yes please! 94 points

2001 Pride Mountain Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon- if ever a wine I wanted to like more, this is it: I have heard it was quite the star. I have had this once with slightly better notes. The nose seemed slightly over-ripe. Palate showed some great black cassis, black cherry and a tinge of crème de cassis. As it sat it went slightly redder. I check a few other guests’ glasses; they all seemed to have the over-ripe nose thing. It got 6 first place votes so as usual, what the hell do I know? 90 points

2003 Pride Mountain Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon- I believe this particular wine is one of the stars in this vintage. I have had it no less than 4 times and just always rocks. The nose may tell you it’s from 2008; it had some creamy vanilla notes that seemed almost primary, but once on the palate the party started big-time; Black cassis with an almost gobby black cherry (gobby good here). Dense and almost chewy, this had pure cherry cola, pomegranate and more. As it sat it just kept releasing more ’stuff’--- good ‘stuff’. This was balanced with a medium weight mouth-feel and lively acidity and length. Oohs and aahs all around. 94 points

This flight had 6 WOTF votes the 2001. 3 for the 1999(me), and 3 for the 2003.
2003 had 7 votes for 2nd place. Overall if you do the ‘point thing’ (5, 3, 1), it would have taken 37 points to the 2001’s 39. An awesome flight indeed.

The next flight had the 2008 and the 2009 Cab Reserves. I for one like the direction the new winemaker, Sally Johnson has gone with this label. I love watching the guests scurry to their smart-phones and go ordering wine, as they are sitting there tasting the wine as happened with the 2008.














2008 Pride Mountain Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon- The nose was similar to the 2003. Here’s where they parted company: fresh, lively and lilt in approach, these say delish right of the bat. Black and dark with an undercurrent of sweet vanilla and cocoa powder. Infused black fruits land on your tongue and we are no longer in Kansas. Simply deft and gorgeous. The purity in mind numbing. A high wire balancing act of acidity with a tannic backbone to go the distance. If you open this now you must give it a few hours airtime; all the difference on these. This was elegant and structured all at once. Intense and long finish keeping the fruits lively. Love it. 95 points

2009 Pride Mountain Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon- not very dissimilar to its brother above, but with slightly more verve and astringency. The thing is after sitting in the glass for 30 minutes or so it took on more weight and lost the abstinent edge. (I believe it was only bottle in August). Give it a year and this will bloom. Black red fruits with lively acidity and balance; this had a conveyor belt of all things good in Cabernet that I love. Hints of cola, some warm vanilla, some cedar and exotic tea. Well done! 93

The 2008 garnered 9 first place (flight) votes. That’s how I voted as well.

The next flights were served with food.













2007 Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot- pure and red fruited; this had a great roundness to it. Cherries, red plums with some leather and cedar. A nice wine that stands strongly within its QPR status as seen with the next 2 wines. 89 points

2007 Pride Mountain Vineyards Vintner Select Merlot- More serious for sure. A hint of jamminess, this is slightly redder and slightly more structured than is sibling that came before. The nose was slightly more subdued on this. As it sat it became more fragrant and open showing denser chewy tannins and understated acidity. Very nice. 91 points

2007 Pride Mountain Vineyards Claret- Yowsa! Here we go! The breed and elegance hits you immediately. A 70% merlot 30% Cabernet blend. Immense structure with black red fruits that explode sideways and up all at the same time. Mouth-coating with a finely meshed tannic structure, this took command of the flight, a flight that was surely voted along its price-point. This is pure heaven. 94 points

8 WOTH flight votes went to the Claret and 4 to the VS. 52 points for the Claret, 44 for the VS on the 5/3 system












2005 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon- dense, pure and fragrant with hints of coffee bean, cedar and leather. I got some nice black plums, black cherries and some kirsch on this. It was certainly outclassed by the first flight, but held its own nicely in this group. I have always been a fan of these. This whole flight had the true to form Foley nose: creamy vanilla and cocoa. On nose alone, it was hard to distinguish these. The palate tells the story waiting to be told….
91 points

2005 Pride Mountain Vineyards Vintner Select Cabernet Sauvignon- I am onto these guys now. The 2-8% Petit Verdot is KEY to the whole pride CS lineup. This one does not have it being 100% Cabernet. It had a great array of black fruits with currant and blackberry being in control, but what it lacked was the fragrance of the two that bookended it. Dense and slightly tannic, this remained true to its cabernet lineage. A nice cab nonetheless. 90 points

2005 Pride Mountain Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon- We have arrived right back where we started---full circle. This had a wonderful pure breed quality that all its brethren had before it. (4.5% PV) Dense, chewy and flamboyant, this had the Foley-esque qualities that became a bit polarizing in the day. Some oak is evident with black tar, leather and tea. This is a medium weight wine with big bones and no excuses; this pleases all the senses above the neck. 94 points

8 votes for Reserve WOTF, 1 regular and 3 VS. The rest gets…..blurry.

The overall voting of WOTN is certainly not scientific. Let’s face it, I’m no Einstein. I can tell you the 2008 reserve had 5 votes (me too). The 2001 had 3 votes, the 2009 2 votes and the 2005 VS had 2 and 2005 Reserve Cab had 1 vote. See? Add that up. 13…..Einstein? I think not......

3/6/12

CLONYC 29 - The Marston family Vineyard with Elizabeth Marston Leahy & Jamie Leahy

This CLONYC thing has morphed into something I could not even imagine when I first started nearly six years ago as we now have good fortune of hosting some of the worlds premiere winemakers. What I love best is meeting people behind the labels; people who have more passion for what they do in their pinky than many others in other walks of life have in their whole ‘selves’.

Last nights Marston dinner with Elizabeth (Marston) and Jamie Leahy of Marston Family vineyard double downed on that thought. Nicer people you won’t find. A lively and fun evening of great people, food and oh yeah, wines was had by all.

So let’s talk wine.

Strangely, I do not think I ever had a Marston Cabernet. I am more of a ‘valley floor’ guy. These are serious wines that deserve your attention. They are certainly distinctive; I can’t say they remind me of anyone else’s wine I have had. Purity and focus is the key to these deep, dark and precious beauties. Elizabeth and Jamie brought two whites and six cabernets for the group to sample. Steve filled in with a few 2002s to make us a straight seven year vertical. I want to thank Elizabeth and Jamie for traveling to the countries east coast to share their wines, stories and passion. Thanks to Steve and Sue for the generous add-on of the 2002s.

All wines were opened at 6pm with the exception of the 2002, which I believe was double decanted at about 3pm.

Onward…..

2009 Marston Family Vineyard Albion. This beautifully fragrant sauvignon Blanc blend (Sémillon 4%) has a wonderful balance while showing purity and elegance. Pretty fresh cut lemongrass, crushed stones with hints of grapefruit peel and spring flowers. Some interesting minerality revealed itself as it found its perfect window of drinking temp. Elizabeth mentioned that they wanted to create a white Bordeaux-like bottling. They have achieved just that. Simply beautiful.

2010 Marston Family Vineyard Albion. Nothing simple about this one. It shows more earthy notes. This one shows a larger frame with more blunted fruits. The nose showed some tomato leaf within. Its youth evident, this displayed some great verve that was more in your face than its younger sibling. I would like to sample this one again, on my deck whilst grilling some shrimp.

2002 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose was floral with hints of violets, cassis and cardamom. Palate showed a precisely woven Cabernet with wonderful black currant, blackberry and cola. There was some plead pencil shavings, leather and cedar box. I could have sniffed this one all night. A perfect start to a fantastic round of Cabs that were to follow.

2003 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Although similar on the nose at first, this one went on a roller coaster ride quickly. From deep black filled fruits to edgy back to fragrant fruit. In one of the dips I got some metallic notes, but on the whole this was a fun gregarious wine with nice balance and lots of life left and tannins showed themselves to be in control.

2004 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This one started off like a brute and 'me' not being shy of the brutes loved the texture and focus it had. Pure cassis and kirsch notes were driving this pure cab. Alluring black cherry cola & sassafras with some plushiness and roundness---It had me at hello. Tremendous depth, this had a nice medium bodied mouth feel. Balance & structure was what this was all about.

2005 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Chunkier than those before her, this was one that could certainly have used a decant. It showed the Marston black fruit profile with more angles and intersections. Deep and dark with hints of leather, soy and graphite. I would love to see where this goes in about 4 years.

2006 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This was the most expressive wine of the group. Layer upon layer of black fruit goodness with lush undertones. Balanced perfectly, this flew high when accompanying food. Kirsch Royal laced sweet black currant with some roundness. The proverbial iron fist/velvet glove thing is well in play with this one. I got some notes of exotic tea leaf and spring flowers. The depth was incredible. This was the best of the 2004 and the 2005 wrapped into a neat little package. Reminded me of a 2002 Bryant I had a few years back. My WOTN.

2007 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. In keeping with most 2007s Napa Cabs I have experienced, this certainly was attractive right out of the gate. It had the dark fruit thing going alongside, but what I find is a (and I hate to use this word) somewhat ho-hum version of the 2005 served earlier in the night. It’s well balanced and enjoyable; maybe it need many years in the bottle. If 2007s are wines made for the masses, count me as non-mass.

2008 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.YIKERS!, this goes to the outer limits of all else before her. Simply delicious (And I DON’T use that word often). Big and flamboyant, this had some butter popcorn, white chocolate and bouncy sassafras in play. A medium bodied wine, this showed great structure and promise for a bright future. With most of these 2008s, I find them enjoyable very early in their lives. I also believe these will become amazing with half dozen years in the bottle; as this sat in the glass for an hour or so it became graceful and elegant while remaining well structured and prominent.
If you must open one, you best decant. I loved it.

Not really being one to rate wines when the folks who have made a life of making them are sitting right next to me, I took a chance and went around the table for the groups 1,2 and 3. Elizabeth & Jamie were all too happy to play along, and as a matter of fact almost giddy to hear what the group had to say!
The 2006 was the clear WOTN. Bravo!

1st place
2006 - 6 votes
2002 - 3 votes
2008 - 2 votes
2004 - 1 vote

Runners up
2004 – 5 votes
2002 – 4 votes
2007, 2006 & 2003 all got 1 vote