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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!