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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