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Posts from the ‘Cellar Management’ Category

Time to Buy Top Names from the 2014 Vintage in Bordeaux

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

’10 Lynch Bages – $190  ’14 Lynch Bages – $100

’10 Ducru Beaucaillou – $270  ’14 Ducru Beaucaillou – $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!

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Pick My Next Bottle – 2005 Châteauneuf-du-Pape

The June Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on 2005 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 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.

2005 was an exceptional vintage in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Conditions were perfect and the vintage rivals other greats of the last 30 years including 1990 and 1998.

The Contenders:

  • 2005 Clos Saint-Jean La Combe de Fous – One of the candidates for the wine of the vintage is the extraordinary 2005 Chateauneuf du Pape La Combe des Fous (same blend and elevage). Probably the best cuvee of this wine yet made, the wine has a saturated purple color to the rim as well as an extraordinary nose of blackberry, blueberry, black truffle, incense, lavender, and a hint of graphite. The wine is remarkably concentrated, spectacularly pure, full-bodied, with amazing length of well over a minute. This wine is a ‘wow, wow’ sort of wine, a profoundly great Chateauneuf du Pape. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2025. 98 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2005 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe – One of the most age-worthy cuvees in the appellation, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe’s 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape was gorgeous on this occasion, showing classic iodine, seaweed and peppery herbs intermixed with layers of sweet currant, plum and blackberry fruits. Full-bodied, powerful and ripe, with a still youthful profile, this beauty won’t hit full maturity for another 3-4 years, and should hold for a decade or more after that. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2005 Domaine du Pégaü Cuvée Réservée– The 2005 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee (normally a blend of approximately 80% Grenache and the rest Syrah and Mourvedre) exhibits a deep ruby/plum/garnet hue along with lots of grilled meat juices, roasted Provencal herbs, tar, blackberries and black currants. The wine is medium to full-bodied, still firm and tannic. It is those tannins that make the 2005 somewhat reminiscent of a tight, more austere-styled vintage such as 1995. The 2005 needs at least another 4-5 years of cellaring, and should last for 20 years or more. 92 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 2005 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Should I Open?

  • 2005 Domaine du Pégaü "Cuvée Réservée (41%, 17 Votes)
  • 2005 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe (37%, 15 Votes)
  • 2005 Clos Saint-Jean La Combe de Fous (22%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 41

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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 July installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to Zinfandel Chronicles updates by email.

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Pick My Next Bottle – Some New Zinfandels

The May installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Zinfandels that have not been reviewed on this site since its inception over 5 years 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 on Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.

I think anyone who is reading this blog is familiar with Novy and Joseph Swan. Novy Family Wines is a collaboration between Adam & Dianna Lee of Siduri Wines and Dianna’s family. Joseph Swan Vineyards was founded in the late sixties and Rod Berglund is the longtime winemaker and owner. I’ll have to confess I had not heard of Amapola Creek despite the winery being well over a decade into it’s existence. That being said the combination of Richard Arrowood as winemaker and fruit from the Monte Rosso Vineyard is about as close as it gets to a sure thing in the wine world.

Please vote for the bottle you would like to see me open this weekend although rest assured I will have tasting notes up on the other wines is the not too distant future.

The Contenders

  • 2011 Joseph Swan Zinfandel Mancini Ranch Vineyard – Zinfandel from old vines is rarely this light and refreshing, yet still exuberant in fruit. A mix of tart cherry and just-ripe blackberry comes with a lingering edge of citrus around the cinnamon and black pepper spice. Funky earth ripples through the middle, before a subtle take on leather finishes things out. 91 points from the Wine Enthusiast.
  • 2013 Amapola Creek Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard – From the famous Monte Rosso red soil vineyard. The 2013 Zinfandel Monte Rosso (680 cases coming in at 16% alcohol) is 100% Zinfandel. At $45.00, this is a great buy! Made from 123-year-old head-pruned vines, the wine has a dense ruby/purple color, a big, sweet kiss of black cherry, blackcurrant and blackberry with some dusty, loamy soil undertones and pepper as well as hints of charcuterie and spice. It is full-bodied, lavishly rich, and stunningly pure. It should make a savory mouthful for at least a decade. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2013 Novy Zinfandel Papera Ranch Vineyard – The 2013 Zinfandel Papera Ranch is slightly richer and more classic than the Russian River, from a vineyard planted in 1934. The wine is 97% Zinfandel and the rest mixed old-vine black varietals planted probably by the first or second generation of Italian immigrants. The wine has a deep ruby/plum color, a big sweet kiss of steak tartare, beef blood, blackcurrants, sweet cherries, baking spices, herbs and new saddle leather. It’s rich, ripe, full-bodied and opulent. This is a beauty to drink over the next 6-8 years. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which Zinfandel Should I Open?

  • 2013 Amapola Creek Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard (39%, 16 Votes)
  • 2013 Novy Zinfandel Papera Ranch Vineyard (32%, 13 Votes)
  • 2011 Joseph Swan Zinfandel Mancini Ranch Vineyard (29%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 41

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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 June Installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to Zinfandel Chronicles updates by email.

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2014 “Birth Year” Case Wine Recommendations

This is my 6th annual “Birth Year” case blog post. This post can serve as a guide for readers who had children born in the year of 2014 and want to set aside some wine for them to enjoy when they reach the age to appreciate said wines. My 2013 list was published in May of last year.

2014 was exceptional in Napa and also marked the first really good vintage in Bordeaux since 2010. This is great news for this exercise as many collectors turn to Cabernet Sauvignon when shopping for birth year wines.

Per previous year lists I attempted to find bottles from a diverse number of regions that have the capacity to age under appropriate cellar conditions for upwards of 20 years. I only included wines that cost $150 or less. This is no small task given escalating prices in regions like Napa Valley and the Northern Rhone. Fortunately, 2014 saw “reasonably priced” wines from Bordeaux. These wines should all be available at retail right now. None of these wines should be very hard to find. Happy hunting!

  1. 2014 Chateau Lynch Bages – Region: Bordeaux, Score: 94 points from the Wine Spectator, Price: $100.
  2. 2014 Chateau Montrose – Region: Bordeaux, Score: 96 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $130.
  3. 2014 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou – Region: Bordeaux, Score: 96 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $130.
  4. 2014 Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon – Region: Napa Valley, Score: 94 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $60.
  5. 2014 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon – Region: Napa Valley, Score: 92 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $65.
  6. 2014 Antinori Tignanello – Region: Tuscany, Score: 93 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $90.
  7. 2014 Chateau Climens – Region: Barsac, Score: 97 points from the Wine Spectator, Price: $70.
  8. 2014 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon – Region: Washington, Score: 93 points from the Wine Spectator, Price: $100.
  9. 2014 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec Le Haut-Lieu – Region: Loire, Score: 93 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $40.
  10. 2014 Domaine Charvin – Region: Rhone, Score:95 points from Vinous, Price: $50.
  11. 2014 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese – Region: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Score; 94 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $45.
  12. 2014 Domaine Jamet Côte-Rôtie – Region: Rhone, Score: 96 points from James Suckling, Price: $130.

If you have followed this series over the years then you may have noticed that wines like Montrose, Tignanello, Charvin and Prum have made multiple appearances. Simply put these are fairly priced, world class wines that should age effortlessly for up to 20 years. The real beauty of this list is you should be able to source the wines without needing to belong to a mailing list. Look at reputable wine stores like Wine Exchange, JJ Buckley and K&L Wines.

I doubt you will find the likes of Lynch Bages, Montrose and Ducru-Beaucaillou at prices like this when the 2015 and 2016 vintages hit the market. This might be the best buying opportunity for Bordeaux we will see in many years.

Other wines to consider that will be more readily available later this year include Cabernets from Dunn, Foreman, Ridge and Chateau Montelena.

I’d love to hear about what wine you are setting aside for your children that were born in 2014.

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Pick My Next Bottle – 1995 Bordeaux

The April installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Bordeaux from the the now 22 year old 1995 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 on Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.

James Suckling, formerly of the Wine Spectator, first compared the ’95 vintage in Bordeaux to classic vintages like ’47, ’59 and ’82. The vintage was rated 95 points by the publication. I have followed the vintage for fifteen plus years now. The vintage is definitely a throwback to a bygone era with tannic wines that will undoubtedly be long lived. Many wonder whether the tannins on some of the classified growth wines will ever resolve.

The Contenders

  • 1995 Léoville-Poyferré – While not as backward as the 1996, the opaque purple-colored 1995 is a tannic, unevolved, dense, concentrated wine that will require 8-10 years of cellaring. The 1995 exhibits pain grille, blackcurrant, mineral, and subtle tobacco in its complex yet youthful aromatics. Powerful, dense, concentrated cassis and blueberry flavors might be marginally softer than in the 1996, but there is still plenty of grip and structure to this big wine. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2030. 90 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 1995 Calon Segur – As I have said many times since I first tasted this wine, the 1995 Calon-Segur is one of the great sleepers of the vintage (I bought the wine as a future for a mere $250 a case). The wine has closed down completely since bottling, but it is a sensational effort that may ultimately merit an even higher score. The wine is opaque purple-colored. With coaxing, the tight aromatics reveal some weedy cassis intertwined with truffles, chocolate, and beef blood-like aromas. On the palate, there is an element of sur-maturite (1995 was an extremely late harvest at Calon-Segur), fabulous density and purity, and a boatload of tannin. This deep, broodingly backward, classic Bordeaux will require a decade of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2035. 92 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 1995 Grand-Puy-Lacoste – Unbelievably rich, multidimensional, broad-shouldered wine, with slightly more elegance and less weight than the powerhouse 1996, this gorgeously proportioned, medium to full-bodied, fabulously ripe, rich, cassis-scented and flavored Grand-Puy-Lacoste is another beauty. It should be drinkable within 4-5 years, and keep for 25-30. This classic Pauillac is a worthy rival to the other-worldly 1996. Anticipated maturity: 2002-2025. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 1995 Bordeaux Should I Open?

  • 1995 Calon Segur (44%, 16 Votes)
  • 1995 Grand-Puy-Lacoste (33%, 12 Votes)
  • 1995 Léoville Poyferré (23%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 36

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another and your thoughts on the ’95 vintage as a whole.

Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the May Installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to Zinfandel Chronicles updates by email.

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Pick My Next Bottle – 2005 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon

The March Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Washington Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2005 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 Sunday and a Bottle Note will be published later that week.

I chose Washington Cabernet Sauvignon as March is Taste Washington Wine Month. Taste Washington Wine Month is an annual celebration of Washington State’s award winning industry. The culmination of Taste Washington Wine Month is Taste Washington, a massive tasting of food and wine held at the CenturyLink Field Event Center.

2005 was a very good vintage in Washington. The hot Summer was followed by cool weather in September and although the crop was smaller than normal, the wines have aged beautifully.

The Contenders:

  • 2005 Betz Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon – 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec. Good deep, bright ruby-red. Sappy aromas of crushed blackberry, licorice, minerals, and spices. Wonderfully sweet but less pliant and open today than the Clos de Betz; more affected by the bottling. With aeration, this showed subtle cabernet notes of cassis, Belgian chocolate and fresh herbs. This dense, thick wine boasts outstanding structure and dimension, and finishes with terrific persistence. Betz used his highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon to date in this wine, and the lowest amount of Merlot. 93 points from Stephen Tanzer.
  • 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard – The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard comes from the fifth leaf of this estate vineyard and in this vintage contains 4.5% Merlot. The wine was aged for 22 months in 100% new French oak. Opaque purple-colored, its distinctive aromatics leap from the glass. Toasty oak, scorched earth, a hint of truffle, black cherry, black raspberry, and blackberry liqueur aromas are quite mesmerizing. On the palate, this sizable effort is firm, full-bodied, and structured, demanding 6-8 years of cellaring. It should be hitting its stride by 2015 and remain at that level through 2035. 97 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2005 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley –  The Cabernet is sharply defined, with interesting citrus flavors defining the borders of the fruit. Lemon peel, candied pineapple and even grapefruit add lovely grace notes indicative of rich, clean, natural acids and a wine with plenty of glycerin. The stunning red fruits are polished and backed with details such as dried herb, and a tiny hint of mint. This may well be the most ageworthy Leonetti Cabernet ever made. 96 points from the Wine Enthusiast.

Which 2005 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon should I open?

  • 2005 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley (39%, 20 Votes)
  • 2005 Betz Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon (37%, 19 Votes)
  • 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard (24%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 51

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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 April installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to Zinfandel Chronicles updates by email.

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Pick My Next Bottle – 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel

The February installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Old Vine Zinfandel from the the 2013 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 on Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.

2013 was an exceptional vintage for Zinfandel throughout California. The wineries featured below have meticulous Winemakers who work hard in the vineyard and I am confident in saying the wines from Bedrock, Carlisle and Turley will rarely disappoint. Pagani Ranch and Hayne Vineyard date back to the early 1900’s while Bedrock Vineyard dates back to the 1880’s. More on the vineyards on the Historic Vineyard Society website.

The Contenders:

  • 2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Red Wine Pagani Ranch – The 2013 Proprietary Red Pagani Heritage rivals the incredible 2012. An ancient vineyard of mixed black grapes planted in the 1880s, this full-bodied, multifaceted wine offers a stunning display of blue, red and black fruits intermixed with floral notes, a juicy, exuberant personality, and, most importantly, a boatload of pleasure. Drink it over the next decade. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2013 Carlisle Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard – From the famous Napa Valley site in Santa Helena, the 2013 Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard (15.9% alcohol, but only a mere 216 cases produced) is a blockbuster Zinfandel. There is something magical in this wine, which in 2013 is also 100% Zinfandel from 110-year old vines. Deep ruby/purple, with a stunning nose of licorice, incense, camphor, blackberry, blueberry, kirsch and earth, the wine is majestic, full-bodied and an absolute tour de force in Zinfandel winemaking. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2013 Turley Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard – A wine of real phenolic weight and vertical texture, the 2013 Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard is explosive from start to finish. Iron, smoke, tobacco, savory herbs and dense red stone fruits blossom in a wine built on serious structure. In this vintage, winemaker Tegan Passalacqua gave the Bedrock three additional weeks of time on the skins, which no doubt explains much of the energy and power here. Dollops of Petite Sirah and Alicante round out a very classic-feeling Sonoma Valley field blend. 94 points from Vinous.

Which 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel Should I Open?

  • 2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Red Wine Pagani Ranch (39%, 31 Votes)
  • 2013 Turley Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard (34%, 27 Votes)
  • 2013 Carlise Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard (27%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 80

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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 March Installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

I previously ranked all these vineyards in Top 10 Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyards.

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Pick My Next Bottle – 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Showdown

The February installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Cabernet Sauvignon from some of the best regions in the world known for growing this noble grape. 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. I will open the winning bottle this Thursday, on my wife’s Birthday, and post a Bottle Note shortly thereafter.

2003 was an above average vintage in both Washington and California. 2003 in Bordeaux was marked by a once in a lifetime heat wave. The very best wines of the vintage are glorious buy many question their age worthiness.

The Producers:

  • Quilceda Creek Vintners was founded in 1978 by Alex and Jeanette Golitzin. Alex Golitzin is a nephew of André Tchelistcheff, the legendary winemaker who put Beaulieu Vineyard at the forefront of Napa Valley Cabernet in the 1960s and 70s. He credits summer trips to visit his uncle in St. Helena, California with developing his early interest in wine. Alex’s son, Paul Golitzin is now chief winemaker at the winery.
  • Araujo Estate is a 38-acre vineyard in northeast Napa Valley, east of Calistoga. It was established in 1990 when Bart and Daphne Araujo bought the historic vineyard from Milt and Barbara Eisele, who planted the vines in the 1960s. For nearly 40 years the Eisele Vineyard has been known as one of the valley’s great vineyards, consistently producing outstanding wines. Several years ago Bart and Daphne Araujo sold the winery to Francois Pinault, the owner of Chateau Latour. The winery is now known as Eisele Vineyard.
  • Chateau Pichon Baron and Chateau Pichon Lalande were once part of the same estate. The Baron Joseph de Pichon Longueville, on the night of his death in 1850, divided his Pauillac estate between his five children. His two sons were awarded what became Chateau Pichon Baron. His three daughters were given what later became Chateau Pichon Lalande. Today Pichon Baron is owned by AXA insurance group and managed by Christian Seely.

The Wines:

  • 2003 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon – Another wine I’ve had multiple times recently, the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon (97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot) is pure perfection in a glass and yields off-the-hook aromatics of cassis, black raspberries, tobacco leaf, pepper and licorice. Deep, layered and even elegant, with a seamless texture that conceals the sheer wealth of material present, it builds through the mid-palate, possesses huge amounts of extract and masses of polished tannin on the finish. Despite the overall size, it never loses its Cabernet Sauvignon soul and has an almost Bordeaux-like savoriness and tannic frame. Still young (yet gorgeous none the less), it can be enjoyed now or cellared for another 10-15+ years. Drink now-2028. 100 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2003 Araujo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard – Absolutely superb, this 2003 is drinking beautifully. This blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot from the famous hillside Eisele Vineyard in northeast Napa Valley tips the scales at 14.5% natural alcohol. Gorgeously fresh black currant and black raspberry notes intermixed with spring flowers and forest floor jump from the glass from one of the most aromatically complex wines of the vintage. Medium to full-bodied with sweet fruit, velvety, melted, integrated tannin, a round, generous mouthfeel and no evidence of oak, this is a classy, elegant as well as substantial beauty that continues to age well. It may even be superior to Araujo’s 2002, which, on paper, is a better vintage. The seductive, alluring 2003 should remain at this level for another 5-8 years, but there is no reason to defer your gratification. Bravo! 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2003 Chateau Pichon Baron – This is a brilliantly run property year in and year out, and especially since the mid- to late 1980s has produced one of the top four or five wines made in Pauillac in virtually every vintage. With 13.4% alcohol, the 2003 is one of the most powerful efforts this chateau has ever made. Its dense purple color is accompanied by sweet, jammy creme de cassis notes intermixed with roasted herbs, smoked meats, and chocolate. Although ripe, dense, full-bodied, and moderately tannic, it is silky (because of its low acidity and high glycerin) as well as accessible. It should firm up in the bottle, and be at its peak between 2008-2025. 94 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Should I Open?

  • 2003 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (51%, 22 Votes)
  • 2003 Araujo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard (37%, 16 Votes)
  • 2003 Chateau Pichon Baron (12%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 43

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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 February installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to Zinfandel Chronicles updates by email.

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Prioritizing the Carlisle Mailer

With the arrival yesterday of the Carlisle mailer so began the semi-annual struggle of deciding what wines to buy from one of my very favorite producers. This mailer, with 13 different wines, included two whites, two Syrahs, a Petite Sirah and 8 different Zinfandels. What makes this particular mailer somewhat unique is it is the last vintage for a couple Zins that have become staples in my cellar all the while adding a new vineyard designate that has me somewhat intrigued.

Below is how I would approach the mailer at different bottle increments.

  • 3 bottles – For me, Carlisle is first and foremost a Zinfandel producer. If I was going to limit myself to 3 bottles I would make sure to include the Hayne and Monte Rosso as unfortunately Carlisle will no longer have access to these venerable vineyards. I would also include the Montafi as it is consistently one of my top 2 Zins from Carlisle. All 3 of these vineyards scored high when I ranked my Top 10 Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyards.
  • 6 bottles – If I were able to add 3 more bottles to the 3 above I would include the Mancini Ranch Zinfandel, Limerick Lane Zinfandel and Papa’s Block Syrah. Mancini is new to the Carlisle lineup. I’ve always enjoyed the Mancini Ranch Zins from Joseph Swan and on top of that Mancini Ranch is literally a stones throw from my favorite Zin Vineyard, Papera Ranch. I’ve been a fan of Limerick Lane going back 20 years and the vineyard rarely disappoints. For my 6th bottle I am giving a very slight edge to the Papa’s Block Syrah over the Palisades Vineyard Petite Sirah. For my money Papa’s Block is the best Syrah made by Mike Officer.
  • 9 bottles – The last 3 bottles I would add to my order would be the aforementioned Palisades Vineyard Petite Sirah, Sonoma County Zinfandel and Compagni Portis White Wine. The Petite Sirah from Carlisle is one of the best in the state although I’d include Turley and Switchback Ridge in the conversation. The Sonoma County Zinfandel is a staple in my household. You can do no better for $24. Lastly, if you have not tried one of Mike’s white wines you are missing out. The Compagni Portis is the place to start.

It just goes to show how strong this offering is when the wines that did not make the cut are all exceptional: the DuPratt Zinfandel, Steiner Gruner Vetliner, Sonoma County Syrah and Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. Consider the Sonoma County Syrah if you need to fill out a case. For just $20 this is an amazing wine.

Carlisle is all about exceptional wines at exceptional prices. My advice…buy all you can afford.

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Pick My Next Bottle – 2010 Syrah

The December installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Syrah from the 2010 vintage. All three producers included make exceptional wines year in and year out so vintage variation is rarely a factor when I buy their wines. The winning bottle will be opened on New Years Eve and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.

The contenders:

  • 2010 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard – Christophe’s Armada Vineyard Syrah has slowly become one of my favorite releases and the 2010 Syrah Armada Vineyard does nothing to dampen my growing enthusiasm for the vineyard. From a high-density planting in 2001 that lies just behind the winemaking facility (or ‘studio’ if you’re talking with Christophe), it offers up a brilliant bouquet of sweet kirsch and plum liqueur intermixed with notions of bacon fat, wild herbs, ground pepper and liquid rock. Evolving beautifully with air and incredibly complex aromatically, it is full-bodied, voluptuously textured and delivers serious levels of fruit and richness without ever seeming the least bit heavy or cumbersome. Count me a fan and this knockout Syrah will stand toe-to-toe with the best in the world. Give bottles another 2-3 years of bottle age and enjoy over the following 12-15 years. 97+ points. Drink 2015-2030. 97 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2010 Reynvaan Syrah “The Unnamed” – The 2010 Syrah The Unnamed has the most texture and fruit of the lineup. A big, full-bodied effort that never seems heavy or cumbersome, it offers up layers of Syrah-driven fruit, pepper, underbrush, iron and game to go with voluptuous, yet elegantly styled mouthfeel, no hard edges and thrilling purity. Already reasonably approachable due to its wealth of fruit, it nevertheless has the back-end structure and concentration to evolve for 12-15 years or more. Drink now-2025. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2010 Saxum Broken Stones – Even more perfumed and up-front aromatically, the 2010 Broken Stones is a brilliant effort. A multi-vineyard blend of 63% Syrah, 19% Mourvedre, 15% Grenache, and 3% Petite Sirah that was aged mostly in new French oak, it offers up a gorgeously pure array of black raspberry, charcoal, licorice, lavender, and assorted floral qualities on the nose. This flows to a full-bodied, deft, and elegant palate that has no hard edges, a weightless feel, and masses of fine, yet firm tannin on the finish. Give bottles another year or three, and then drink over the following 12-15 years. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 2010 Syrah Should I Open?

  • 2010 Reynvaan Syrah "The Unnamed" (40%, 27 Votes)
  • 2010 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard (31%, 21 Votes)
  • 2010 Saxum Broken Stones (29%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 68

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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 January installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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