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Posts from the ‘Cellar Management’ Category

Pick My Next Bottle – 2010 Pinot Noir

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.

The Contenders:

  • 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)
  • 2010 Dehlinger Pinot Noir Goldridge Vineyard (27%, 11 Votes)
  • 2010 Rochioli Estate Pinot Noir (24%, 10 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 November installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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Pick My Next Bottle – Grenache Showdown

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.

The Contenders:

  • 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

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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 October installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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Pick My Next Bottle – Washington Wine Month

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.

The Contenders:

  • 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

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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 September installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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Pick My Next Bottle – 2009 Syrah

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.

The Contenders:

  • 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

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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 August installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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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.

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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.

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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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