Upcoming CLONYC events



CLONYC 3 Small Production

 Small Production Gem Tasting and Dinner

Tasting Notes


All notes by Ben Sherwin

Another successful CLONYC dinner. What better way to beat the heat than to drink some big red wines. Thanks to Mike for setting it up. Some really great wines and, of course, great company. As usual, Zoe was top notch with the wine service.

An Interesting Mix of Wines
The Cobb was a bit out of place here, but it was big enough to hold its own. The Gemstone was oustanding and tied for 2nd place for wine of the night.

  • 2002 Cobb Pinot Noir Coastlands Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Began with a little plastic on the nose, but that blew off pretty quickly. We weren't sure what to make of this at first because the nose was a bit tarry as well. It was clear that it just needed some time as it eventually settled in to a more recognizable SC Pinot. The fruit started getting brighter and the tart acidity began to show, but the consistent note was wet earth. The fruit was sweet and borderline between red and black. With some air it picked up some black tea notes as well. Enjoyable? Yes. Would I run out to get some? No, but I wouldn't mind having it in my cellar.

  • 1994 Cosentino Winery M. Coz Meritage Red - USA, California, Napa Valley
    I still don't get why everyone raves about the '94s. Decent nose of herbs and cassis. Pretty good fruit with cassis and plums but there is no shortage of oak and the finish clips off a bit. It's certainly ready to drink and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it, but its fairly conventional and uninteresting.

  • 2003 Gemstone Facets - USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville
    Wow. An amazing nose on this one. A great black fruit story, uplifting, but told in dark terms. You name a black fruit and it's in there (currant, blackberry, cherry). As it unwound I got hints of cinnamon as well. Not as explosive on the palate, with dark berries and smoke. The finish lingers nicely but for a few dusty tannins reminding you that this is a youngster. Very nicely made.

1996-98 Vertical
No, I'm not related to the Sherwin family of Cabernet fame. Still, I thought it was the best of this flight. The Livingston was a close second if for no other reason that it so exceeded the low bar I had set for it. The Backus wasn't bad, but it did not excite.

  • 1996 Sherwin Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
    A solid, well-made wine, but not a revelation. A great nose of cassis and leather. Supple mouthfeel with dark fruit and ripe, sweet tannins. I think this is on the downswing with the acid outlasting the fruit on the medium long finish. While I preferred the '97, this certainly does the Sherwin name proud.

  • 1997 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Backus - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
    Not the worst wine of the night, but my biggest disappointment. One of my favorite vineyards and vintages, this was one of the 2 wines that I really wanted to try and, while it wasn't terrible, it was not as advertised. Ripe plums, black cherry and cedar on the nose. Pretty nice in the mouth with mocha and blackcurrant, but a bit too woody. All the component were there, but it just didn't do anything for me. A real enigma.

  • 1998 Livingston Moffett Red Wine Gemstone Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville
    Not the best wine of the night, but the biggest surprise. It has to be one of the best '98s I've had (granted pretty faint praise). Nice aromas of cassis, leather and vanilla bean. Also, no green. I got some herbs on the nose and on the palate, although it was in no way herbaceous and underripe. Medium bodied with sweet fruit on a longish finish and no green! The cream of the crap for 1998.

The Bad, the Superb and the Ugly
My first Schrader. Another reason to love TRB. WOTN in a close call over the Realm and the Gemstone.

  • 2000 Carter Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
    Some beat the tricky weather of 2000 and some are this wine. Underripe and uninteresting, this was the only wine of the night that I dumped. Whatever interesting notes in this wine came from the oak and not the fruit (dill, vanilla, cedar). I'm 0 for Carters in the last week, albeit from terrible vintages (the other was a 1998).

  • 2003 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
    This is a crazy good wine. Sweet ripe black fruit (currants, blackberries, plums) and smoke jump out and grap your attention. Substantial and seamless in the mouth with cassis, vanilla and cocoa that spread out and coat the palate. Plenty of structure here with a grip that reminds you that you probably shouldn't have opened it yet. Still, a phenomenal, well-balanced wine that will be a star when the tannins soften and the oak further integrates. WOTN.

  • 2003 Harris Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon LTD Limited Reserve Jake's Creek Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley
    A tough one to figure out. It peeked its head out every once and a while, but really didn't really want to show us anything. Clearly not open for business it still had some elements that may let evolve into something. Let it sleep and see what you have in a couple of years.

The Future
A nice flight. The Realm was tied for 2nd for WOTN and the Scythia was 3rd.

  • 2004 Realm Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Farella Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley
    It took a little time to come around (starts out a bit liqueury), but when it did it came on strong. Huge nose of cassis, brambly fruit and spice. Lush and round in the mouth with a great, big core of fruit but with tannins and acidity that balance out the size well. It's accessible now and something special with time. Superb.

  • 2004 Scholium Project Syrah Scythia Donati Vineyards - USA, California, Central Coast, San Benito County
    Another one of Abe's mindbenders. It's tough to get a sense of these wines at a broader tasting as they're so dense that you could spend a whole night on one glass. Accordingly, here are impressions that in no way do anything but hit the surface. Syrah? OK, I sort of see that although it's certainly not typical. There's some sweet blackberry and tar there. Interesting notes of grapefruit and cola. A huge wine.

  • 2004 Scholium Project Petite Sirah Babylon Tenbrink Vineyards - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Don't open this wine. It's like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. Huge and monolithic, the most I could get out of it was some spicy plum.

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