The March Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on wines from the 2003 vintage. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened this Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published shortly thereafter.
We all know the background on the historically hot 2003 vintage in Europe. The wines are incredibly polarizing. From my experience, the top wines of the vintage are fruit forward and aging well. Heat was also an issue in Napa Valley. With all that being said the wines are now 15 years of age so we would all be well served to check in on them periodically.
2003 Léoville-Poyferré – The spectacular 2003 Leoville Poyferre exhibits a dense purple color with a touch of lightening at the edge as well as notes of creosote, barbecue smoke, jammy black currants, licorice and spice box. This intense, voluptuously textured, full-bodied St.-Julien possesses low acidity and ripe tannin. Still fresh and exuberant, it is just entering its plateau of full maturity where it should remain for 10-15+ years. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
2003 Antinori Tignanello – Antinori’s 2003 Tignanello (85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc) is a terrific effort. Typical Sangiovese notes of red cherries, tobacco and underbrush dominate the flavor profile of this intensely flavored Tignanello that manages to be ripe and open, while retaining notable balance and freshness, although the tannins dry out a bit on the back end. This is a delicious Tignanello to enjoy now and over the next decade. The high altitude of the vineyards was clearly an asset in 2003. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2018. 92 points from Vinous.
2003 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon – In 2003, production jumped up to 3,700 cases, with the blend identical to so many other vintages with 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc. This was a year where there was some freaky heat spells, but this wine has come through nicely. Deep bluish purple with notes of blackberry and cassis and charcoal followed by a soft, velvety textured, opulent and full-bodied wine that seems to be approaching full maturity. It is interesting, this wine is far more evolved, and on a faster evolutionary track than the 2001 or 2002. Nevertheless it is a beauty, loaded, layered and impressive. It must be one of the top 2003s. Drink it over the next 20-some years. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.
Virtually every week I peruse WineBid to see if there are any wines worth bidding on. It strikes me that when I browse through the Zinfandel category I see countless bottles of Zin that are 10 plus years of age. Often I will see bottles that are 15-20 years old. I think that more often than not these wines end up on WineBid because collectors are disappointed with the way their aged Zinfandel tastes.
This past week I opened a 2003 Ridge Lytton Springs out of magnum. The wine was interesting with flavors of black tea and aromas of bay leaves and wet forest floor. It was definitely drinkable and paired admirably with a grilled steak. What the wine lacked though was the juicy acidity and brambly fruit characteristics that I adore in Zinfandel. This was the oldest bottle of Zin in my cellar and I had aged it intentionally to see how it would develop.
I am a proponent of aging wine in the cellar if they improve or become more compelling with bottle age. Obvious examples for me would include Bordeaux and top tier Cabernets from Napa. They develop compelling secondary characteristics and the tannins are more in balance with the fruit profile. While my bottle of ’03 Ridge Lytton Springs clearly made it to 15 years of age I am certain it was not better than had I consumed if 5-7 years ago. I know many a wine consumer who won’t touch a bottle of Ridge Geyserville or Lytton Springs until it reaches 15 years of age. I’ll err on the side of drinking them sooner rather than later going forward.
With that being said a little bottle age can clearly benefit some Zins. A recent bottle of 2015 Ridge Pagani was just a little too over the top at this time and a year or two in the cellar should bring more balance to the wine.
I will not pass judgement on those of you who want to cellar your Zins. I plan to drink most of my single vineyard Zin from the likes of Carlisle, Turley and Ridge in the the 5-8 year window after release. Wines like Outpost and Black Sears that are sourced from Howell Mountain will also be consumed after 5-8 years. Entry level Zins like Turley Juvenile and Old Vines or Carlisle Sonoma County will be consumed 1-3 years after they are released. Unless I lose track of the bottle in my cellar I don’t intend to keep bottles of Zin past 10 years of age going forward.
The January installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Old Vine Zinfandel from the 2014 vintage. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar.
2014 was an exceptional year California Zinfandel producers. The contenders in this version of Pick My Next Bottle should be entering a period where they are drinking well for the foreseeable future. The vineyards represented have tremendous pedigree and all date back almost 100 years if not longer. Polls are open until Sunday afternoon.
2014 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard – Another spectacular wine from an iconic vineyard is the 2014 Zinfandel Monte Rosso. This is from a huge vineyard of nearly 350 acres with lots of different parcels and the famous red soils. The dense ruby/purple 2014 Monte Rosso, which is largely Zinfandel, shows terrific, briary black raspberry and black cherry fruit, superb concentration, licorice, Mediterranean herbs, meat, earth, and a peppery, spicy finish. There is a touch of Alicante Bouschet in the blend, but the Zinfandel is the dominant varietal. Virtually all of this wine is made from dry-farmed vineyards planted in the late 1800s, and Morgan Twain-Peterson believes it can last for decades, although most of us will never be able to defer gratification from this full-bodied, ripe, heady wine that long. 94 points from the Wine Advocate.
2014 Carlisle Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard – The 2014 Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard is a deep, powerful wine. Rich, ample and exquisitely layered, the 2014 exudes class and pedigree. Sweet red cherry, pine, mint, sweet tobacco and cedar add aromatic nuance, but it is the wine’s texture and depth that are the main signatures. The 2014 has a very bright future. Sadly, this is the last vintage of Hayne for Carlisle, as Mike Officer lost access to the fruit. 94 points from Vinous.
2014 Turley Zinfandel Pesenti Vineyard – From the pure white soils/limestone terroir emerges the 2014 Zinfandel Pesenti Vineyard (15.8% alcohol). This is a warm area, but with cold soils, and the result is one of the great classics of Zinfandel from the Central Coast. The intensity of flavor, the colossal richness and the full-bodied power are totally concealed beneath a cascade of fruit. This multidimensional wine reveals gorgeous minerality, loads of black and red fruits, and even a hint of spring flowers. This is a stunner that is layered, extremely long, pure and heady. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
The December installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2002 vintage. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar.
2002 was a better than average vintage in both Washington and California. The contenders in this version of Pick My Next Bottle should be entering a period where they are drinking well and New Years Eve seems like a good enough occasion! Polls are open until Sunday afternoon.
2002 Chateau Montelena “Estate” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – This appears to be one of the great efforts from Chateau Montelena, something I think I was correct about when I gave it an ‘in the bottle’ rating in 2006 of 95+. It is still an amazingly young wine that came from old vines on the famous St. George rootstock that did not require replanting because of the phylloxera epidemic that swept through Napa in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. Despite its lofty 14.4% alcohol (high by Montelena standards) and the overall flamboyance of the 2002 vintage, it needs another 4-6 years of cellaring. This young, classic Cabernet Sauvignon represents the quintessential traditional school of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. It possesses an inky/blue/purple color in addition to a tight, but promising nose of black currants, crushed rocks, earth and spice. Rich, full-bodied, pure and brilliantly executed, with perfect harmony, this is a sensational yet forebodingly backward, youthful Cabernet Sauvignon should keep another quarter of a century. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon – Unlike some minuscule production ‘cult’ wines or luxury cuvees culled from a winery’s primary product that have earned perfect scores over the years, Quilceda Creek’s Cabernet Sauvignon is the winery’s raison d’etre and is produced in significant quantities (3,400 cases in 2002, 3,425 in 2003). For accomplishing this feat the Golitzens should be doubly proud. Dark ruby-colored and sporting a nose of violets, sweet blueberries, dark cherries, and slight undertones of asphalt, the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon blossoms on the palate to expose a wine of ethereal delicacy yet immense power. Medium to full-bodied, it expands to reveal concentrated layers of cassis, blackberries, red cherries, raspberries, violets, spices, and touches of candied plums. This rich, exquisitely balanced, sweet, and broad wine is harmonious, graceful, and awesomely long. 100 points from the Wine Advocate.
2002 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red – The nearly perfect 2002 Proprietary Red Wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and the rest dollops of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. This exotic, full-throttle, nearly over-the-top red wine’s intensity, richness and smoky coffee notes intermixed with notions of chocolate, graphite, and jammy blackberry and black currant fruit ooze from the glass. This rich, concentrated beauty tastes more like a top-notch, young Right Bank Bordeaux from a vintage such as 2009 than a wine dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. With stunning purity and awesome potential, it can be drunk now or cellared for another two decades. 99 points from the Wine Advocate.
Which 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Should I Open?
2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (44%, 17 Votes)
The November installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Bordeaux from the heralded 2000 vintage. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar.
2000 was simply one of the best vintages ever in Bordeaux. It was the first vintage since 1990 where wines from both the Left and Right Banks were nearly perfect. From top to bottom great wines were made in the Medoc, Pomerol, St. Emilion and Pessac Leognan. The contenders in this version of Pick My Next Bottle should be entering a period where they are drinking well but I expect they will age beautifully for another decade. Polls are open until Saturday afternoon.
2000 Pavie Macquin – A beautiful crushed rock/liqueur of minerality characterizes this inky/purple-hued St.-Emilion. Tannic, with lots of pure black raspberry and black cherry fruit intermixed with a notion of charcoal as well as the aforementioned rocky/powdered stone component, this long distance runner requires another 5-6 years of cellaring. It should age easily through 2030+. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.
2000 Troplong Mondot – Extremely young with an unbelievable deep purple color, the 2000 Troplong Mondot has hardly budged since I tasted it in 2003. Two recent tastings confirmed that this is the greatest Troplong Mondot between their profound 1990 and more recent vintages such as 2005, 2008, and 2009. Copious chocolate, graphite, blackberry, blueberry, cassis, and ink characteristics are present in this full-bodied, powerful, massive St.-Emilion. While the tannins are noticeable, they are better integrated than they were seven years ago, and the fruit, extract, and richness clearly outweigh the wine’s structure. This 2000 will benefit from another 4-5 years of cellaring (longer than I originally predicted), and has at least two decades of drinkability ahead of it. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
2000 Grand Puy-Lacoste – The 2000 Grand Puy Lacoste is even better than such recent vintages as 2005 and 2009. A broad, classic, large-scaled effort, it boasts a deep blue/purple color as well as tell-tale notes of creme de cassis, subtle smoke, flowers, and unsmoked tobacco. Powerful, full-bodied flavors have shed a lot of tannin, but they remain relatively youthful. This is a young adolescent, broadly flavored Pauillac with an enticing texture as well as abundant richness and fruit. It can be enjoyed now, but promises to hit its peak in five years, and last for two decades. 94 points from the Wine Advocate.
Which 2000 Bordeaux Should I Open?
2000 Grand Puy Lacoste (49%, 19 Votes)
2000 Pavie Macquin (26%, 10 Votes)
2000 Troplong Mondot (25%, 10 Votes)
Total Voters: 39
Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the December installment of Pick My Next Bottle.
The October Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on great bottles of Pinot Noir from the 2010 vintage. This vintage was very good in both Oregon and Sonoma and it is certainly time to check in on some of my favorite producers. The idea for this installment was crowd sourced from some of my favorite followers on Twitter. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened this weekend and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.
2010 Rochioli Estate Pinot Noir – This is Rochioli’s estate Pinot—without a vineyard designation. It’s a fabulous wine, showing the winery’s signature power, complexity and balance. The flavors are rich, with notes of red berries, persimmons, red currants, bacon and cola. Absolutely delicious now, and it should gain traction and change interestingly over 6–8 years. 95 points from the Wine Enthusiast.
2010 Dehlinger Pinot Noir Goldridge Vineyard – Deep ruby. Complex scents of red and dark berry preserves, smoky herbs and cola, with a spicy overtone. Pungent and palate-staining raspberry and blackberry flavors are buoyed by a zesty mineral nuance. The dark berry and cola notes resonate on a long, smoky and appealingly sweet finish. Plenty rich but comes off balanced and quite pure. 92 points from Stephen Tanzer.
2010 Thomas Pinot Noir Dundee Hills – Vivid ruby. Pungent earth- and spice-accented black raspberry and cherry-cola aromas are lifted by a suave floral quality that gains strength with air. Deeply pitched, energetic dark fruit flavors take a brighter turn with air and pick up spicecake and anise nuances, along with a hint of smokiness. Chewy and penetrating on the strikingly persistent finish, which features supple tannins, lingering spiciness an a touch of smokiness. 95 points from Vinous.
Which 2010 Pinot Noir Should I Open?
2010 Thomas Pinot Noir Dundee Hills (49%, 20 Votes)
The September Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on great bottles of Grenache. The idea for this installment was crowd sourced from some of my favorite followers on Twitter. It is timely as well, considering International Grenache Day was just a week ago. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened this weekend and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.
2007 Domaine de la Janasse Chaupin – I’ve drunk over a case of the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvée Chaupin from my cellar, and this was easily one of the finest bottles (it was from magnum) I’ve ever had. Made from close to 100% Grenache and brought up in foudre, it’s a crazy good, monumental beauty that offers loads of ripe blackberries, black raspberries, crushed flowers and garrigue aromas and flavors. Concentrated, layered and unctuous, with a to-die-for texture, no hard edges and a huge finish, this beauty is still youthful and is just now starting to show hints of maturity. When it’s this good, I can’t recommend waiting, but I’ve no doubt this will continue to offer this level of quality for at least another decade. 99 points from the Wine Advocate.
2009 Cayuse God Only Knows – Fresh strawberry and elderberry are tinged with birch bark extract, black tea, and basil, making for an aromatically intriguing and lip-smacking palate presence. An upwelling of beef marrow and a Syrah- (or Gewurztraminer-) like hint of smoked meat add to the wine’s saliva-inducing savor. Here is a really vivid illustration of how the best Washington wines offer nearly luxuriant richness and sweet berry intensity but at the same time exhilarating vibrancy and lift. And, true to Baron’s repeatedly stated intentions, there are – beyond salt, stone, and smoky aura of black tea – elements impinging on this wine’s superbly sustained finish that can only be called “mineral,” even if one can’t find further words for them… Incidentally, the wine was vinified in concrete and then aged in demi-muids plus one concrete egg. Apropos controlling alcohol and enhancing ripe flavors, this beauty clocked in at what – in comparison with other recent vintages – counts as a modest 14.3%, despite its warm growing season; yet as you can tell from my description, there’s nothing under-ripe about its performance! 95 points from The Wine Advocate.
2013 Outpost Howell Mountain – There are 410 cases of the 2013 Grenache. This wine, which used 100% whole-clusters and aged 14 months in neutral French oak, offers terrific authentic aromatics of kirsch liqueur and strawberries that jump from the glass of this medium ruby-colored wine. The color looks light and somewhat insipid, but it is in no way an indication of the lush, sexy, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel. This is a beauty, but seductive, and needs to be drunk in its first 4-5 years of life. 92 points from the Wine Advocate.
Which Grenache Should I Open?
2009 Cayuse God Only Knows (39%, 20 Votes)
2007 Domaine de la Janasse Chaupin (31%, 16 Votes)
2013 Outpost Howell Mountain (30%, 15 Votes)
Total Voters: 51
Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the October installment of Pick My Next Bottle.
The August Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on great bottles from some of the best producers in Washington. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened this weekend and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.
August is Washington Wine Month. The annual celebration of Washington wine is highlighted by the Auction of Washington Wines held at Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery.
I’ve chosen wines from some of the most iconic wineries in Washington.
2003 Leonetti Reserve – Mouth-watering quantities of black raspberries and cassis liqueur are found in the nose of the stunning 2003 Reserve. A huge, immensely deep wine of intense concentration, it coats the palate with waves of dark raspberries and super-ripe black currants whose flavors linger in its exceptionally long finish. This decadent behemoth is magnificent to taste now and will be sumptuous over the next 15+ years. 97 points from the Wine Advocate.
2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon – Unlike some minuscule production “cult” wines or luxury cuvees culled from a winery’s primary product that have earned perfect scores over the years, Quilceda Creek’s Cabernet Sauvignon is the winery’s raison d’etre and is produced in significant quantities (3,400 cases in 2002, 3,425 in 2003). For accomplishing this feat the Golitzins should be doubley proud. Dark ruby-colored and sporting a nose of violets, sweet blueberries, dark cherries and slight undertones of asphalt, the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon blossoms on the palate to expose a wine of ethereal delicacy yet immense power. Medium to full-bodied, it expands to reveal concentrated layers of cassis, blackberries, red cherries, raspberries, violets, spices, and touches of candied plums. This rich, exquisitely balanced, sweet, and broad wine is harmonious, graceful, and awesomely long. Projected maturity: now-2022. 100 points from The Wine Advocate.
2011 No Girls Syrah – In the same mold, with the buzzwords being finesse and elegance, the 2011 Syrah La Paciencia Vineyard offers textbook pepper, olive tapenade, smoke and crunchy berry fruits in its medium to full-bodied, seamless and beautifully textured profile. Showing impressive complexity and already hard to resist, I-d lean towards drinking bottles over the coming decade as well. Distinctly different from both the Cayuse and Horsepower releases, winemaker Elizabeth Bourcier continues to fine-tune these No Girls releases and they always show a perfumed, lively style that-s hard to resist. They all come from the La Paciencia Vineyard, which is located in The Rocks around the town of Milton-Freewater, and all of the wines see only neutral oak. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.
Which Washington Wine Should I Open?
2011 No Girls Syrah (38%, 21 Votes)
2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (34%, 19 Votes)
2003 Leonetti Reserve (28%, 16 Votes)
Total Voters: 56
Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the September installment of Pick My Next Bottle.
The July Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Syrah from the 2009 vintage. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened this Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.
2009 was an average to slightly above average in California and Washington. However, I rarely worry about vintages when purchasing from these producers. Lillian, Carlisle and Cayuse seemingly deliver tremendous wines, year in and year out, regardless of conditions.
2009 Lillian Syrah – Inky purple. Explosive aromas of candied dark berries, incense, violet and patchouli, with woodsmoke, olive and Asian spice nuances adding complexity. Lush, palate-coating black and blue fruit compote flavors are energized by bright spice and mineral notes. Picks up candied violet and licorice notes on the sweet, impressively long finish, which is given grip by late-arriving tannins. With its suave marriage of power and energy, this is built for the long haul. There’s no way I’d have guessed that this wine clocked in at 15.2% alcohol save for its fruit intensity. 94 points from Stephen Tanzer.
2009 Carlisle Syrah Cardiac Hill – The 2009 Syrah Cardiac Hill is a gorgeous, thrilling wine laced with bacon fat, tapenade, savory herbs and plums. It possesses gorgeous aromatic delineation and fabulous length. The intense, mineral-drenched finish argues for cellaring the wine for at least another 2-3 years, but readers are going to have a very hard time keeping their hands off this gem. Cardiac Hill is a very cold site. The wine (100% Syrah) was vinified with 40% whole cluster and aged in French oak barrels, 27% new. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2029. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.
2009 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard– A much more voluptuous, concentrated and obviously great Syrah, the 2009 Syrah Armada Vineyard yields lots of plum sauce, spice, licorice and crushed rock aromas and flavors to go with a full-bodied, layered, pedal-to-the-metal style. This is a great wine that will have 20-25 years of longevity. 97 points from the Wine Advocate.
Which 2009 Syrah Should I Open?
2009 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard (37%, 23 Votes)
2009 Lillian Syrah (35%, 22 Votes)
2009 Carlisle Syrah Cardiac Hill (28%, 17 Votes)
Total Voters: 62
Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the August installment of Pick My Next Bottle.
2014 was a great vintage for the Cabernet Sauvignon based wines of the Left Bank. Although the Right Bank slightly under performed, there is no question, that overall this the best vintage since 2010. The three vintages proceeding the 2014’s were largely unremarkable and although 2009 and 2010 were true classics, most of the Classified Growths were overpriced in my opinion.
Given high pricing for the ’09’s and ’10’s I was somewhat resigned to the fact that I might need to move on from buying new release Bordeaux. After all the wines I really like need almost 20 years to mature and the release prices of most my favorites were prohibitive. Perhaps I would be better served to buy back vintages and roll the dice somewhat on provenance.
Fortunately for myself, and other consumers, three consecutive lackluster vintages served to dampen desire for Classified Growth Bordeaux. In order to move inventory prices decreased substantially for most Classified Growths. Coupled with a relatively stronger 2014 vintage, consumers are presented with a rare opportunity to buy top houses, from a fantastic vintage, at what seems to be discounted prices.
Below are the ’10 and ’14 prices for a few select wines:
’10 Montrose – $270 ’14 Montrose – $130
’10 Cos d’ Estournel – $225 ’14 Cos d’ Estournel – $130
Admittedly, in all cases the ’10’s are slightly better wines. Are they nearly twice as good as the pricing would suggest? I don’t think so. Given that prices appear to be back on the rise for the exceptional ’15 and ’16 vintages I think consumers have a chance to buy some of the very best Classified Growths at prices we may not see again for the foreseeable future. I’m buying all of the wines mentioned above and several other favorites. Happy hunting!