Upcoming CLONYC events




Upon planning this one I ran into a tiny problem of 'conflicting schedules' during the holiday season with a bunch of invites going out and only 4 yes responses coming in. Never one to be defeated, I decided to march on and plan a smaller dinner with the 'yes' crowd. I booked a table for 4 at North Square. We grew to 6 quickly. The theme was Syrah from the US. A fun night as usual with lively & spirited conversation. The wines showed pretty great too. All the 'syrah' style-spectrums were covered on this night.

2004 Aubert Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard
Arriving last at the table I spied some cloudy straw colored stuff in front of my place setting. What do we have here? It was pure love, that’s what it was. Super aromatics of exotic fruits with Meyer lemons, pineapple, fresh cut flowers and a hint of hazelnuts. It was perfectly balanced. Fresh and vibrant, this had a creamy fleshy texture with some fresh cut grass notes. I loved this ‘surprise’ at my place setting.

1999 JM Gerin Cote Rotie Champin le Seigneur
Most definitely has the French-funk. A bit thin, simple and non-memorable, to me. The more Francophile amongst us thought different as it sat in the glass.

1998 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz
Nose tells you there is going to be a reduction and you will be pouring it out. On the palate this showed less of what was expected and was quite nice. In 10 minutes time this became floral and gorgeous! No reduction now. Just pure red-black fruits of cherries & red raspberries. The nose was really beautiful. What an amazing transition.

2002 Alban Reva
We have arrived in the new world and have burned our ship. There’s no going back now. This was big and brawny on the nose with black cherries and white pepper in control. Youthful and full of life, this needs 5 more years. As it sat it fleshed out and became more balanced and integrated. There was leather soy and earth amongst the blue-black fruits. An interesting and pretty great wine that just kept evolving in the glass. 5 first place votes

2005 DuMol Eddie's Patch
A totally different direction this headed in. More pinot like than Syrah like, it was elegant and filled with cherries and spring flowers. More of a stylistic thing, this might have showed better (to me) sans ‘others’. It garnered one first place vote.

2005 Kongsgaard Hudson
Somewhere in style between the Dumol and the Royal City about to come. Some nice deep black fruits on this one though with cassis, black raspberries and some plum. Hints of cedar and framboise with a bit of a lush mid-palate, this was large boned and pretty nice.

2006 Charles Smith Royal City
Opened 3 hours) This had the sweet buttered popcorn thing happening. A bit of alcohol noticed upon entry, this needed to be decanted or aerated for longer. Time in the glass and this showed a ripe blue-black fruit profile with some worn leather and crème de cassis. It was glossy and well structured. Alongside the pepper encrusted steak with Dijon sauce this simply ROCKED. Its balance deft, this now had tons goodness. The most food friendly wine on this table-- this night. Glad to have brought it and glad I have more.

2006 Cabot Aria's
Simple and nondescript, I think this a good wine just a bit outclassed this night.

Alban- 5 votes WOTN
Dumol- 1 vote WOTN

Looking forward to 2012, the CLONYC/SLONYC schedule is shaping up pretty pretty good with some exciting dinners on the horizon.

Cheers to you and your families this holiday season!


2001 Napa Cabernets. Ten years on, blind.

I have always been a fan of the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon vintage in Napa & Sonoma; always found them classically structured when compared to the more austere 1999s and somewhat fatter 2002s. With the ten year anniversary upon us it seemed about time to look into a slice of them with the group. 11 of us did just that last night at North Square in the Village.

There have been some deep discussions as of late about when to reveal wines during the night: do we reveal after each flight or wait until the end of the complete lineup. The group was pretty much divided in half with their preferences. I always liked the after flight option myself, especially in a double blind scenario. Last night we went with the other & it worked pretty good save for the wine number 5 (flight 2) garnering more points (54) than the second best wine in flight number 1 (wine 3). Sure it was good, but certainly not better than wine 3. This distraction aside, we all voted for wine of the night after all were tasted, but not revealed.

Flight number One: Super flight of the night.

2001 Switchback Ridge Peterson Cabernet Sauvignon- Big boned and still quite tannic. A pretty nose of super black fruits, violets and cocoa. Pure and precise, this really opened as it sat in the glass into a wonderfully rich & expressive cab worthy of my table any ol’ day. Wonderfully Foley-esque. My WOTF. The whole group, including myself as WOTN with 10 votes 94Revisiting this at the end of the night just solidified my choice for WOTN. It was awesome.

2001 Bond Matriarch- Opened with notes of eucalyptus and mint. After a minute or two this went all black fruit and elegance and pretty much stayed the course. Medium weighted wine with great structure; this had a lot going for it. Black currants, blackberries and framboise and maybe just a hint of sassafras which I really enjoyed. Initially my WOTF, but edged out only by the Switchback Ridge. 93

2001 Beringer Private Reserve- In a flight of such great cabs, this was nearly as great, but in a different style. More classically structured than the other two appealing more to the Francophile amongst us, and appeal it did. I found it to be showing its age with some interesting secondaries popping through. Hints of cedar, spice-box and rubbed leather, this had notes of forest floor. A bit redder than the other two and certainly more food friendly as it has a wee-bit more acidity as well. Fully resolved and should drink well for a long time. 90

Flight number Two: What can I say?

2001 Seavey- Nose of reduction which was distracting, as always. Reddish black fruits with hints of cherries, currants and plum, it just never really inspired anything beyond so it became dump #2. Too bad. N/R

2001 Phelps Backus- Initially seemed a bit overdone in the ripeness area, this came around with glass-time. Interesting Cab that just seemed outclassed by the first three. It became my drink with appetizer, but probably more by default than really earning it. WOTF by default. 89

2001 Araujo Eisele - Remember, these are blind. Totally disjointed and displaced, this seemed a bit tired. It had fruit. It had other stuff. What it did not have was ‘time in my glass’. It was actually the first dump of the night. N/R

Flight number three: can we now get back on track?

2001 Opus One- Who poured number three for me again? This had some correct black and red fruits with hints of cedar and earth but anytime I use correct, best not believe it to be too good a thing. Uninspiring. Again, the Francophiles liked it better than I. 88

2001 Kathryn Kennedy Cabernet Sauvignon- In the running to be one of the prettiest wines in the bunch, this was all about nose. Great black currant, black raspberries and black cherries. Nicely balanced and classy, this was my WOTF. 92

2001 Abreu Madrona- I think this a bit flawed. Some cardboard was within a layer of decent black fruits of cassis and plum. It turned a bit mushroom-y as it sat and then it sat no more….dump. N/R

Flight number 4; Give me shelter!

2001 David Arthur Elevation 1147- Who brought the Shiraz? No, really?
This had a sweetness that just seemed…wrong. Maybe some blue fruits amongst the black did not help. It was a pleasant wine with lots of currants and plums. The balance seemed pretty good too; just the Shiraz thing is a tough hurdle to get over so late in the line-up, if ever. 88

2001 Merus- OK, who brought the Mark Herold wine? No, really? I had the advantage of playing tonight’s lineup single blind which gave me the advantage to know that there was a 2001 Merus in the lineup, and this was it. It had a decidedly Herold style to it. It was super black with hints of warm vanilla and cardamom. Loads of black cassis and black plum skins, this really shown late in the night, and was really needed and appreciated. Tannins large but well behaved and acidity seemed lithy. Just a great wine that happened to come after flight number One. 92

2001 Plumpjack Cabernet Sauvignon- Classically structured and precise, I was thinking Beringer in style as I knew Beringer PR was in the house. Reddish black fruits with cardamom and. wonderfully balanced and yes, we are in the heart of Napa. Very youthful with tons of life ahead. A really nice wine that only suffered due to placement placement. 91


CLONYC 27 'Got Karl?' The Karl Lawrence Reserves.

On a rainy Wednesday in August during a temporary break from the heat waves we (a humble group of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon aficionados) gathered to partake in what we love best: Napa Cabernet. Not just any Napa Cabernet, this was a night of reserves from one of the better reserve houses in the valley, Karl Lawrence.

As a starter, Steve poured his newly released Congruence Zinfandel. This was my first taste and I was impressed. Not pretending to be an aficionado of Zin, I did notice its easy approach and its slight zestiness, great minerality and perfect balance. A very pleasing and honest wine. Well done, Steve.

Now lets drink us some Cabernet…
3 flights of 3 wines and 1 flight of 2 wines. I kept the Morisolis up front since we had 6, and I started with the oldest.

1997 Karl Lawrence Gary Morisoli Reserve
This was showing either its age or vintage characteristics I have come to expect from many a 97. Fruit, although slightly present, was reddish black. There was some cedar, some worn leather and dried cassis. This lacked a wee bit of acidity and was fully resolved. 88

1999 Karl Lawrence Gary Morisoli Reserve
Now we’re talking. This had more stuffing and bolder fruits of blackberries and black cherries. Some crème de cassis, cola, pomegranate and more. It had the prettiest nose of the three in the flight. As it sat, I found an interesting array of blueberries and sour cherries. It had perfect balance and is probably in its best spot right now. Just an elegant and near perfect wine with a 23.6 second finish. 7 people made it their number one in the flight. so WOTF. 93

2001 Karl Lawrence Gary Morisoli Reserve
More guts….more glory? That’s what we will see. This had the darkest fruit profile with the most backward attack of this group. Tremendous mouths feel with a lilty balance. Tannins were complicated and at full attention, this danced over the tongue like a ballerina on steroids. Of the group, this was most in my immediate wheelhouse. Long finish kept the fruits alive. 3 people had this as their number 1. I had it as my WOTF. 95

The next flight was an interesting one for sure; it showed a slightly different profile for the Morisoli Reserves. What I found was these stayed true to vintage.

2002 Karl Lawrence Gary Morisoli Reserve
This had the fat 2002 nose I have come to know form the half a million or so 2002s I have had. They fulfill in a totally different way and my yin-yang wines tonight and usually anytime would be a 2001 and a 2002 of the same label. It was redder and more soda pop like (in a good way). I got the cola AND the uncola. It had a big structure but wore the clothing loosely. Rounder and fuller with slightly awkward tannins and slightly higher acidity. The interesting this was this stayed true to the vineyard still. A fun & whimsical wine that I would not mind having more of on any snowy quiet Saturday afternoon….. 5 WOTF votes. 92

2004 Karl Lawrence Gary Morisoli Reserve
In keeping with the vintage typicity thing, this was a 2004 that showed like one; that is to say in my humble estimation, is slightly reminiscent of the 02s while having some more structure. What I have also found is the fruit is going slightly rogue on these. They lay low in the background and taunt you. It was blacker and more evenly balanced in the tannin/acidity department. This might have shown better a year or so back, or it might be napping, albeit a cat nap. I hope the latter as I grabbed some for really really cheap last season. 90

2005 Karl Lawrence Gary Morisoli Reserve
This was the boldest, more flamboyant of the whole group of Morisolis that came before it. It had an intensity and purity that was again, typical of vintage, but still maintained the Morisoli brand. Such a fantastically cerebral wine, this has guts to go. Currant and blackberry ruled, this had some lead pencil shavings, hints of vanilla and spice box. A medium plus weighted mouth feel with slightly edgy tannins and high-wire balanced acidity. Strangely enough, as this sat, it got slightly hallow for a time, and then returned to be even darker and purer. I kept some for the long run. Interesting. 5 WOTF votes (as mine). 94

This flight was evenly split between the 2002 and the 2005. Certainly, style preference is in control.

2001 Karl Lawrence Herb Lamb Reserve
While I really wanted to love this, I could not get beyond an ever so slight medicinal note that I could never really get past. After some time another at the table had mentioned the same. 4 number 1 votes for WOTF. n/r

2002 Karl Lawrence Herb Lamb Reserve
Corked, tainted, whatever we are calling it these days, it was. The discussion at to flawed/not flawed kept the table in turmoil until the Poobah put his foot down for a vote. 4 voted flawed. I need a new set of CLONYCers going forward…. n/r

2005 Karl Lawrence Herb Lamb Reserve
Back to the tracks. This was beautiful. Notes are thin though. Reddish black fruits of currant and raspberries. A little floral for a big boned wine. This had poise and pizzazz. I let this sit and it got darker and fuller, while becoming more fragrant. 6 votes for the WOTF. 93

2002 Karl Lawrence Beckstoffer To-Kalon Reserve
Wow. This was pure and purely To-Kalon; sweet black fruits were in control with the creamy mid-palate. Just an amazing wine that was different that anything else on the night. Perfectly resolved with lots of life, this had hints of mocha and vanilla. Some leather, cedar, and hints of graphite. Finesse-full and never coy, this was just a complete Cabernet, one in a style this group has had much experience with, and the oohs and aahs proved it. 96.

The WOTN was evenly balanced between the ’99 Morisoli and the ’02 To-Kalon.

All in all a fantastic array of well bred wines. The family traits were apparent with the Morisolis, and the ‘class’ obvious all around. As an interesting contrast, we had the good fortune to have a magnum of the 2002 Karl Lawrence regular Napa cab as cleanup and you spotted the pedestrian qualities it carried in such a revered group. A great night indeed.


Napa - Bordeaux Slap-fest II

And so it goes, just another contentious night of Cali Cab guys mixing it up with Bordeaux guys. Nothing unusual BUT the outcome. I have no clue what was accomplished other than dinner with a bunch of loudmouths. (Well almost).

I laughed, I nearly cried, I could have/should have wrote more detailed notes, but I didn’t -–just too much happening for that.

I am going to approach this from a different angle; I am going to tell you what I did not like first. We tasted 11 red wines and hated the 2002 Merus (#10 on the night, Steve, please don't EVER LISTEN TO ME AGAIN! Bring what you want next time.), the 2004 Buccella (#9 on the night), and the 2002 Blankiet Merlot (#2). The first two were like candied framboise mixed with soda-pop and vanilla. The latter was just a funky & messy nightmare. There were a few Bordeaux I dumped ASAP, but that was based on style preference. The 2001 Cos D’Estournel and a 2000 Pontet-Canet. The 2000 Figeac had me nonplussed as well. I think it a well made wine, just not for me. The 2001 Montelena Estate has proven again that it is a style I am not a big fan of; I was told this needs some time, but can time fix my issues with it? I am not buying it. It was more in the style of the ‘old guard’ Cabs.

Whew, I feel better. I had to get that off my chest.

Now I will tell you what I had liked: I think the 2000 L’Evangile (#6 on the night) was pretty amazing. It was perfectly balanced with great red-black fruits of cherries, plum and raspberries. A near mesmerizing finish really made this memorable.

The 2001 Shafer Hillside (#3 on the night) was only opened about an hour. It evolved in the glass and became sweet black fruits with cassis, black cherry, cola and more. The 2003 Pavie needed some air-time but was outshined by the L’Evangile, but I still enjoyed it. The 2004 Caymus Special Selection was in my ‘group of four’ favorites. It had wonderful balance and mouth feel with some pretty floral notes and a solid cassis driven fruit profile with hints of cola, leather and cardamom.

I would be remiss if I did not tell you about one of the 3 whites a few attendees graciously brought as starters (thanks!).

1996 Rollin Corton-Charlemagne. Cripes! This was awesome. A lilt little number with hints of some fresh soft Meyer lemon, graphite, petroleum jelly and spring flowers. Perfectly balanced and precise, a light to medium weighted mouth feel, this just glides over the tongue. Very nice indeed.

A great time was had.


CLONYC 25. Two Hands Wines with Michael Twelftree

Last night the CLONYC gang had the distinct pleasure of meeting and hosting an Australian legend in winemaking, Mr. Michael Twelftree and a dozen of his new releases. The room was quiet, probably as quiet as I have ever heard it in the three or so years we have been in this private room at North Square, as all ears were on Michael as he spoke passionately about his babies-- his wines.

It was a wonderful night with filled with fantastic company, great wines and delicious food. Enough with the pleasantries and let me get onto the wines. In honor of my Aussie friend Michael T, I am listing them upside-down.

2008 Ares Shiraz, Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, South Australia(Served last, noted first and so on…)WOW, this was intense and deep with purity and focus that is near mind-boggling. The nose hinted a bit of sweetness, but the palate exploded with balance and lush black, blue and red fruits. Fantastically structured with firm tannins and a fine acidity. Some spice, some leather and some warmed over river stones. Earlier in the night Michael spoke of the one thing all great wines of the world need and should be expected, and that is a great finish. This bottle of wine reveals how true to that belief he is. The finish just went on for what seemed an eternity and well after I finally shut my trap from speaking did I realize I still tasted those fruit notes, and if you know me you know that can be many minutes….Fantastic.

2009 Aphrodite Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley, South AustraliaI do love me a well made Cabernet, and this one goes beyond well made, quickly. Nose of black fruits like currant and plums with black cherries. Upon entering the mouth you get an explosion in many directions. This is multi-layered and pure with a cool underlying lushness that screams, albeit quietly, class. Dark as night, this full bodied wine is the iron fist velvet glove times 3. Upon first taste, I bid for mikes attention and could only blurt out ‘This Aphrodite? Holy sh*t!’. And I was not exaggerating. It’s the schnozzle. Menthol notes with hints of vanilla and newly rubbed leather, this had the 350 yard finish too. Wowser.

2009 Aerope Grenache, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Not well versed in Grenache, and working lately to change that, this was feminine and elegant with a red fruit profile of cherries & strawberries; this was a playful fun wine with a nice dose of liltiness or bounce. A nice wine I wish I could spend an evening with on its own.

2009 Coach House Block Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia(A single vineyard bottling) This had amazing textural nuances that were woven with a red/black fruit profile. A hint of sweetness and a mouth coating quality that hinted Napa slightly, this was pure and rambunctious. I love rambunctiousness. Very nice.

2009 Zippy’s Block Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia(A single vineyard bottling) This has a fine red fruited profile of bing-cherries and raspberries with some violets and white lavender. A pretty wine with an amazing mid to light weighted moutfeel, this seemed to sit higher on the palate than anything after it or before it save for the Sofie’s and Sam’s which was actually before it, but listed here---after it. Follow that because I’m lost.This carried a firm tannic structure and lithe acidity. Decent finish and Bob’s your uncle.

2009 Barneys Block Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia(A single vineyard bottling) Firmly backboned and somewhat austere, this had some black currant, blueberries with some late spring flowers. Nicely structured, this had a decent finish that remained true. An Interesting drop.

2009 Windmill Block Shiraz. (A single vineyard bottling)This was actually the first single vineyard bottling served on the night and its difference was starling since it was served with 2 of the Garden Series wines, albeit the last two and the more firmly structured of the five. Dark and ominous, this seemed almost foreboding. Black and red fruits of currant, raspberries and pomegranate with hints of warm blueberry compote. I loved its delivery system that seems to just carry it forward; this will be a stunner in a few years. Very nice indeed.

Moving onto (or from) the Garden series wines, this all had distinct characteristics that’s only resemblance is the purity and joy. Beyond we have something for everyone, and some of that in different doses.

2009 Sophie’s Garden Shiraz Padthaway. This cool climate Shiraz shows a pure intensity and a mid-palate that seems to ‘pop’. Pretty clove and an almost tomato leaf quality, this had great balance and charisma. I really enjoyed this one and compared it mostly to the previously tasted, (but after noted) Samantha’s Garden. The nose is all you need to experience on these two to realize your smile will be commencing real soon. Love it.

2009 Bella’s Garden McLaren Vale, South Australia. Of all the garden Series wines we had this night, even of all the wines in total, this seemed the most Northern Rhone in its approach. It had finely delineated tannins with some earth tones. Almost quiet when compared to its siblings, this was long and graceful.

2009 Lily’s Garden Barossa Valley, South Australia. Cherries and strawberry, this had an uplifting mouthfeel with slightly chewy tannic structure. A nice wine that really showed some McLaren character, this just sang joy.

2009 Samantha’s Garden Clare Valley, South Australia. Cool menthol and cool climate, this was red fruited and harmonious, but again, and like the Sofie’s, the nose told you what was coming and it was all good. Medium to light weighted, this had a silkiness that along with the fruit did not want to leave your tongue. I will seek this one out ASAP.

2009 Max’s Garden Shiraz, Heathcote, Australia. I think I have an affinity to Heathcote wines that started a few years back. I have always loved the cool climate qualities these showcase. This is pretty blueberry and pomegranate with some austerity. Lovely crushed river stones and soy with hints of leather. A great start…or finish, depending how you are playing along.

A great night in CLONYC history, one that will be remembered for a long while. A big thank you to fellow board member, Michael Twelftree for traveling a few kilometers to meet with aficionados like us. We are one lucky group indeed.

Let me find my soap-box for just a bit: There is a tremendous misconception in the air about todays Aussie wines. Tonight's tasting debunks this misnomer big time. These are not the syrupy fruit bomb wines that many think of when they think Australian red wines. They have wonderful balance and character, while remaining true to the soil, sun and most importantly...vision.


CLONYC 24: Russell Bevan and his wines.

CLONYC 24 has gone off perfectly. The crowd arrived thirsty and hungry. I chose to sit next to Russell as we tasted through his new releases (and barrel samples). I always enjoy the wine-makers perspective and stories as the night goes on. I can tell you this is a pretty amazing group of wines (We were treated to 22 bottles). The Danger D prop red is ridiculously awesome; deep and fragrant with so much going on notes can never do it justice. Parker said opulent & voluptuous first, and I agree with him. I wanted to sit with it all night. It also garnered 6 out of 12 WOTN votes (voting initiated by Russell himself, he voted his Wren Hop "Omens & Prophecy" Pinot).

2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Kick Ranch, Sonoma Coast, Maria's Cuvée --
Simply fantastic! Bottled just 10 days ago its youth evident, but its full cornucopia of all things wonderful was singing: melon and lemon-grass with brightness and focus. I did not spot the sulfur Russell mentioned. What a treat.

2009 Wren Hop "Omens & Prophecy" Pinot Noir- This was fragrant and beautiful. As it sat in the glass it took on some nice weight and balance. I am not known as a Pinot aficionado, but know what I like when I like ‘em and this is nice. This was elegant and focused with fantastic acidity and liveliness. stop and blind and it took on new character becoming more lush and deep. I am sure someone else can fill in the gaps better than I here, but it rocked.

2009 Wren Hop "Siren's Lair" Pinot Noir- this had an almost petrol jelly tone that was interesting. I found this changed moment to moment and kept evolving just like its brethren above.

2008 Proprietary Red Wine Showket Vineyard, Oakville, Danger D Cuvée- As mentioned above the quality and deftness of this is near mesmerizing. A fantastic nose of crush flowers mixed with blackberry and currant compote. Deep dark and luxurious, this is plush and gush. Tantalizing and inviting, one that beckons an over-sized well broken in love-seat with feet up and lights down. Preferably not alone. Can you dig it?

2008 Merlot Showket Vineyard, Oakville, Alexis's Cuvée- cocoa and black cherry nose. This was dark and multi-layered with some nice pure reddish black fruits. Elegant and refined while being slightly mischievous. Russells ‘Beyonce’.

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Showket Vineyard, Oakville, David’s Cuvée- Funny thing is how this showed when poured after the Danger D. If it had come earlier in the lineup I might be able to gush on it more, but the company you keep says a lot about you. Its real dark and real focused. The choices Russell has made in his oak regiment certainly become apparent when you get to these in the line-up and the lineage is uncanny. A nicely balanced, and focused wine with a nice mid weight mouthfeel, but one that never borders heavy. I got some warm vanilla and crème de cassis amidst black cherry and cola.

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Showket Vineyard, Oakville, David’s Cuvée- Barrel sample. Here’s the thing: I love such samplings where baby fat is oozing but lurking for the adventurous is some real nice ‘stuff’. I think I am going to LOVE the 2009 vintage better than 2008 and most definitely more than 2007. The depth, purity and focus is crazy. I love how this glides across the tongue and leaves a trace of itself for minutes. Even after discussing this with Kevin to my right I still had this going on and on. Bring them on.

2006 Bevan Syrah- I liked this one without food better. It was very exact pure with great balance, almost pinot like. I am awaiting clarification on the exact bottling. A bit of the outlier here tonight, but a nice addition to add dimension.

2008 Red Wine Showket Vineyard, Oakville, Double E Cuvée- a 50/50 CF and CS blend. In a similar way to the Cabs I spoke of above, this came from another angle altogether. The family resemblance still intact, this had maybe some more blue/black fruit profile. I almost sense there was some Syrah inside and clarified with Russell that I was wrong. My 3rd choice in the Danger/Cab/E-combo line-up of the night. All stylistic preference I’m sure.

2009 Red Wine Showket Vineyard, Oakville, Double E Cuvée- Again, I go with the 2009 over the 2008. Seeing where this is now and sensing where it is heading (as well as the 08 09 Cab combo above) is an interesting study within itself. It is intense and even more pure (If possible). A rounder and just more seemingly ‘complete’ wine. Very nice indeed.

2010 Morgado Cellars Pinot Noir- Now, remember what I said about Pinot above? Find this wine. It’s a minuscule production wine that delivers in a big way, a way that makes me, a certified (certifiable?) cab guy smile. It has an incredible intensity and presence that drifts across the palate; picture a ballerina in steel toed shoes. Red berries and cedar with leather and soy. Long finish that goes on and on. Look for this label in the future and remember who told you about it. Wow.

2009 Morgado Cellars Syrah- Another beautiful Syrah to add to the nights list. I did not make many notes on this one. I did note it had great balance with some notes of white pepper and a Northern Rhone-like feel. I was glad to get a view into these new exciting wines.

There are 2 fantastic Bevan Syrahs I am awaiting some additional details on. My book seems to have a wine smear and the exact names are unreadable.
I will fill in when I get them

There was a Bevan Chardonnay and a Bevan dessert wine but to be honest--- I was done. A man’s gotta know his limitations.

If you ever get the opportunity to meet Russell, you should not hesitate. he is a funny affable and downright honest guy, who happens to be a pretty talented wine master too.

Thanks to Russell for being part of another incredible CLONYC experience, this being our 24th in 5 years running, like Phantom....but better (I should franchise CLONYC )


CLONYC 23 The 2003 Napa Caberent Retrospective

Last night a few of us got together indulge in the nectar of our beloved Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Why is this different than any other night you ask? Good question. On this night we sample some Cabernets from an much boohooed vintage (and yes, granted, I did much of that boohooing), the 2003 vintage of Napa Cabernets. What a great night with a spectacular lineup. Everyone arrived hungry and thirsty and as usual, the staff at North Square did a fantastic job. The food always just right for the wines we love.
Thanks to everyone who was a part and who generously brought these beauties. Now onto it......

2003 Araujo Eisele- Intense and darkish, the nose of pure cassis and kirsch. A beautiful and elegant mouthfeel with smooth black fruits, cedar, a hint of vanilla and a touch of exotic spices. Such a wonderful expression that was polished and refined. A long finish to complete a near perfect package in such a questionable vintage. 95
2003 Karl Lawrence Dr Crane Reserve- This was slow out of the gate. Initially giving nada. After 10 minutes this started coming through. It had dark currant, Framboise, white chocolate and black cherry cola. Somewhat outclassed a bit by the Araujo. I have had this with better results numerous times, but I guess you are only as good as the company you keep. 92
2003 Hobbs Dr Crane- This went the other way: It started with some wonderful fragrant black fruits and spring flowers. Initially the palate revealed some expressive blackish-red fruits of plums, red currant, and blackberries. this had a bright feel to it which makes sense with a more red fruited Cab, at least to me. After about 20 minutes this became almost fabricated in its approach, something I always found in many a 2000 or 2003. Interesting to see the spin on these two wines and glad we put them together. 89

WOTF for the group (7/10) was without question the Araujo. Runner up was the KL with 5/10 votes .

2003 Hourglass- There was a reduction port-like quality on this that to me never subsided. A few thought it flawed, I was not sure about that. It did garner 1 vote for WOTF and coincidentally we might have 1 seat available for future Cab dinners….NR
2003 Blankiet Paradise Hills- You still with me? Good. Let’s speak Blankiet: I wish I can recall a Blankiet Cab I have enjoyed & I think the merlot is somewhat better. That said, this had distinct baby diaper quality that really never blew off. I called it ‘bad terroir’, but in reality this seemed like a TA issue. Shocking to find this in this wine tonight. Four people had this as their second wine of the flight, so maybe I have zero clue as to what I am tasting. NR
2003 Lewis CS Napa- I like to slip these types of bottles into mixes like this. They really add some dimension on the night. This was ex-Pride/Foley on the nose. Mocha, cocoa, malted and black fruits ruled. It was loud and rambunctious on the nose and palate with a bulldozer like attack. I loved it for its unabashed charge nonetheless. Black currant, cassis and super blackberries with hints of vanilla and oak, this was medium bodied and gorgeous. Not to be confused with the Araujo EVER, this was the polar opposite but yet still Cab and still enjoyable. No doubt this is a Cab. great QPR on the night too! 93

My WOTF was an obvious choice here. The group was 8 for the Lewis.

2003 Schrader RBS- If ever there was a wine I could call just by nose, Schrader is it. This had all of the hallmark Schraderesque components: it was flamboyantly classy with big black fruits that deliver in layers and a medium to medium plus mouthfeel. Pure mouth coating love of leather, dark soy, vanilla and cigar box. I always appreciate getting a taste of these early TRB Schraders. You really get a sense as to what he is trying to tell you and the message is clear: Enjoy my Napa Cabernet. If an issue could be found, it is in serving this with dinner or food for that matter; I think these are contemplative wines that deserve the stage all their own. 93

Blind wine: 2003 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington). I knew what this was going in and what I expected from it was what was delivered; it was a pure and multi dimensional wine with some cool climate nuances of eucalyptus and menthol. not too much, but just enough in this recipe to add to the dimensionality. Long and broodingly dark, this has sweet currant, cola, Kirsch and hints of Asian spices. Power and grace all wrapped up as one with hauntingly finely meshed tannins and lilty acidity. A tremendous showing for this tonight in the company of many of its southern peers. 94

2003 Colgin IX- I did not get what others at the table got on this one. When I first tried it after about 30 minutes open, it was deep and luxurious. at the table 2 hours later it seemed uninspired and unmemorable. Sure, it had Cab components and showed up to the party, but chose to sit out the major dance portion of the night and you will never get to be prom queen that way. 89

This group was the toughest to formulate and the closest in the bunch yet. 4 people voted for the Quilceda Creek for WOTF. 3 people chose the Colgin and 3 chose the Schrader. The 2nd place stuff was all over the place as well. An interesting flight.

2003 Harris Estate Jakes Creek- Having always been a fan of this bottling, I was glad to get another look-see. It was pure and focused with black fruited profile that screamed ‘Napa Cab that anyone can’t but help love’. It’s great to come across wines that really remind you why you are here this night. Classically styled and a hint of the iron fist/velvet glove thing, this really kept pace on the nights lineup. This is what I seek on those quiet snowy weekend days that there seems to be no shortage of these days. Mark Herold made and it shows. 92.5
2003 Phelps Backus- Go ahead, ask me what the 92.5 above is all about. That wine happened to be served with this wine and this wine is awesome-ly Napa too. This was black as night with a hint of sweetness that really gave dimension and depth. Long and beautifully structured, this is the schnizzle that Cab lovers want. This wine has such a delineated bone structure that ooohs and aaahs could be heard amongst the fellas. I have ALWAYS loved this one better than the Insignia and the reason is simple: It is a cabernet sauvignon. Not a five grape blend that seeks house style, this house style starts in the dirt. 93.5

Six in the group are with me on the Phelps being WOTF, a tough but great flight that really bookended such a wonderful array of wines. This night's lineup started strong and finished stong. What else can you want? Especially from a vintage such as 2003. maybe the ‘07s will show better in 8 years after all…….

Araujo was WOTN with 5 votes. Schrader & Phelps with 2 first place votes each.

May all of your wine nights be as great as this one.


CLONYC 22- The Jones Family

In keeping with CLONYC style of our enjoyment of fantastic wines while breaking bread with those responsible for bringing them to us, a very special CLONYC tasting/dinner commenced with both Stephanie and Dan Bailey of the Jones Family Vineyards.

Twelve of us drank through multiple vintages of both the Estate and 'The Sisters'; two of the flagship wines the Jones Family make. Originally made by Heidi Peterson Barrett and now Thomas Rivers Brown (all his in 2008 and whom we had the pleasure of hosting two years back). The quality and consistency of these wines is amazing right across the board.

2005 'The Sisters'
2006 'The Sisters'
2008 'The Sisters'

Of this group, the 2006 stood out for me (Always a favorite). All three were pure and precise. The black fruit profile evident. I love the 2006s heightened elegance. The 2005 has some amazing kirsch notes with a hint of Framboise, black cherry and cola. The 2008 is very pretty indeed. The different choice of certain oak barrels that Thomas uses in his vintage(s) certainly show. It's fragrant and slightly boisterous. I can't wait to get me some. Did I ever tell you that these are (in my humble opinion) one of the single best QPRs in the Valley. Glad I can add past present and future.

2007 Jones Family Estate Cabernet (opened 3-4 hours earlier)
2006 Jones Family Estate Cabernet
2005 Jones Family Estate Cabernet

The 2007 is AMAZINGLY pure and slightly showy in keeping true to the vintage. Its cassis driven with gobs of lush mouth-feel. The 2006 is fantastic in its structure and poise with a bold streak of blackness running right through it. The 2005 was very much what I expect 2005s to be. More classically structured with a full mid-palate and long finish. Again, there is tons of family traits these all share, but like kids, they each have their own personality.

3 special 'family' wines, usually the wine-makers choice barrel.
2004 Madeline cuvee
2005 Heidis favorite barrel
2006 Lindseys cuvee

Elegance and stately, these really reflect what can be accomplished with great fruit & talent. The 2005 had pretty black cherry, currant and black plum shins. Some graphite and worn leather. The 2006 similar with a more lush mid-palate. All I know is my glasses were emptied quickly.
Don't bother looking for them. You will not find them.

1996 Jones Family Estate Cabernet- First year made
1997 Jones Family Estate Cabernet

If you ever see the 1996 around with some good storage, grab it. Its fully resolved and pure with a more red/black profile of cherries, red currant and raspberries. A near perfect rendition of a mid 90s Cab. The '97 was slightly behind it. More black and less vibrant. My ongoing thesis of which vintage is better continues on.

2002 Jones Family Estate Cabernet
2003 Jones Family Estate Cabernet
2004 Jones Family Estate Cabernet

The 2002 has vintage attributes of a bit of 'fatness' Its rounder and plush with reddish fruits. Nicely resolved, it still has a life ahead of it. The 2004 was bolder and more intense with a blacker profile. I loved its fine delineation and core of pure black fruits.

Thanks to all who attended and a special thank you to Stephanie and Dan Bailey of Jones Family Vineyards.

A lively evening amongst impassioned Cabernet aficionados. Lots of laughs and smiles around the table. Great night.