The 2009 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard was the winning bottle in the July Installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was opened and served shortly thereafter.
Cayuse was founded in 1997 by Christophe Baron, a native of France who grew up in family of winemakers in Champagne. Baron studied viticulture in Burgundy and Champagne, and had ambitions to make Pinot Noir in Oregon. However, on a visit to Walla Walla he found property that he believed would be perfect for growing grapes and decided to purchase the land.
At 1815 vines per acre, the 7-acre Armada Vineyard, created in 2001, was the highest density planting in the Walla Walla Valley until 2008. Other wines from the vineyard include the God Only Knows Grenache and Edith Grenache Rosé.
Maroon in color. 14.7% ABV. Savory nose of red fruits, soy sauce, olive brine and smoke. Medium to full bodied with loads of acidity. Immense and concentrated. Plum sauce, warm cherry pie, barbecued meats and minerals on the palate. The finish is incredibly long. In a really nice spot now but this wine will certainly drink well for another 3-5 years. Fantastic Syrah that has a timeless quality to it.
My rating: 97 points.
The waiting list for the Cayuse mailing list is huge and you need to be well-connected to get a bottle via retail. Either way, current vintages are worth the hunt!
Last year Christophe Baron finally made the cover of the Wine Spectator. Cayuse, Horsepower and No Girls are dialed in and Christophe has a new project and vineyard in the works. Expect to hear about Hors Categorie and Fiddleneck Vineyard in the next year or so. Lastly, Christophe at long last is hard at work on making a vintage Champagne. Expect to hear more in the years to come.
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.
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
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.
The 2000 Branaire Ducru was the winning bottle in the September installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was decanted for two hours and paired with a hearty beef stew.
Chateau Branaire Ducru is a Fourth Growth Bordeaux according to the official classification of 1855. The 123-acre estate is in St.-Julien on the left bank of the Gironde River. It is owned by the Marotteaux family and produces up to 180,000 bottles annually. The vineyards are planted to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22 % Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. The estate dates back to the late 17th century.
Magenta in color. 13% ABV. Soaring nose of blackberry, currant and just a hint of vitamin. Pencil, cedar, violets, cherry and earth on the palate. Great fruit, ripe tannins, integrated acids and an exceptional finish. Exceptional now and should show well for another 10 years.
My rating: 93 points.
Both the ’09 and ’10 Branaire Ducru are currently available in the $75-$85 price range and would be a great addition to the cellar.
The August installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1997 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.
This installment of Pick My Next Bottle is special as I plan on opening the winning bottle on August 29th International Cabernet Day. I will publish a bottle note some time the following week.
1997 was a much heralded vintage in Napa Valley. A warm and uneventful growing season, 1997 saw early budbreak and an early, abundant harvest—resulting in ripe, opulent, hedonistic wines that were quickly praised by many acclaimed critics. Over the years though many of the top wines have failed to age as well as one would expect from an excellent year.
1997 Dalla Valle – The 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon (2,800 cases from a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc) boasts an opaque purple color as well as a gorgeous nose of mineral-infused black currants, and spicy oak. Full-bodied, structured, muscular, and multi-dimensional, it is approachable, but best cellared for 2-4 years, and drunk over the following 20-25 years. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.
1997 Chateau Montelena – There are 10,200 cases of the remarkable 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate. Opaque purple-colored with a dense, chewy, full-bodied personality, it displays abundant cassis, mineral, and earth notes. This brilliantly made, super-concentrated, pure, blockbuster possesses sweet tannin as well as a terrific finish. Having added additional weight since last year, this sumptuous, multilayered, profoundly concentrated Cabernet contains 14% alcohol. It is a candidate for 25-30 years of longevity. Anticipated maturity: 2003-2030. 98 points from the Wine Advocate.
1997 Dunn Napa Valley – The 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa exhibits an opaque purple color as well as a gorgeous nose of pure cassis and blackberries with flinty notions in the background. Full-bodied, powerful, tannic, pure, and backward, it needs another 8-10 years of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2035+. ” (12/00) 92 points Wine Spectator: “Sharply focused, with a pretty beam of plum, currant and black cherry flavors, framed by spicy, cedary oak and finishing with dry tannins. Best from 2002 through 2012. 92 points from the Wine Advocate.
Which 1997 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon should I open?
1997 Dalla Valle (38%, 18 Votes)
1997 Dunn Napa Valley (36%, 17 Votes)
1997 Chateau Montelena (26%, 12 Votes)
Total Voters: 47
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 Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the 2004 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. I will open the winning bottle on July 28th and publish a Bottle Note in early August.
Similar to 2003, the 2004 growing season was marked by drought, but with substantially less heat. As in ’03, yields were less than normal—down up to 40 percent at some domaines—a result of the small, concentrated berries that the vines produced. However, unlike 2003, when the Grenache grape was the stand out, all the varieties performed well in ’04, including Mourvèdre, a key component of many Châteauneuf-du-Papes.
2004 Domaine du Pégaü – One of the finest efforts of the vintage is the 2004 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Reservée. There is no Cuvée da Capo in 2004, and as my commentary will make clear, they decided not to produce one in 2005. The 2004 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Reservée has a dark plum/garnet/purple color and a big, sweet nose of kirsch liqueur, lavender, roasted herbs, and beef juices intermixed with some licorice and spice. It is full-bodied, rich, deep, spicy, and dense with some tannins in the finish. The wine is not as accessible as many 2004s, and I would opt for cellaring it for 3-4 years and drinking it over the following 15-20. It’s a gorgeous effort for the vintage. 94 points from the Wine Advocate.
2004 Le Vieux Donjon – Tight on the nose, but with a great beam of red and black fruits, as well as hoisin sauce, olive, cocoa, tar and raspberry ganache. Long, lush finish pumps out darker and darker fruit. Has the racy profile of the vintage, but its range sets it apart. Best from 2007 through 2026. 94 points from the Wine Spectator. Number 31 in the Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2006.
2004 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe – Pure and silky, with raspberry, cocoa, truffle and mineral notes that glide along the fresh acidity. The long, silky finish lets the fruit and minerality hang nicely, with garrigue in the background. Should blossom in the cellar. Best from 2008 through 2025. 94 points from the Wine Spectator. Number 20 in the Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2007.
Which 2004 Châteauneuf-du-Pape should I open?
2004 Domaine du Pégaü (42%, 10 Votes)
2004 Le Vieux Donjon (29%, 7 Votes)
2004 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe (29%, 7 Votes)
Total Voters: 24
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.
The June 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 on June 29th and publish a Bottle Note in early July.
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.
Pahlmeyer was founded in the mid-1980s when Jayson Pahlmeyer, a Bay Area lawyer, decided he preferred thinking about wine over reading legal briefs. Pahlmeyer produced its debut vintage in 1986. The winemaking team is comprised of Kale Anderson who is Director of Winemaking for the Napa Valley vineyard and operations, and Bibiana González Rave as Consulting Winemaker overseeing the Sonoma Coast vineyard and operations.
Chateau Leoville Poyferre, in St.-Julien-Beychevelle, is a Second Growth Bordeaux according to the 1855 Bordeaux classification. Along with Leoville-Las-Cases and Leoville-Barton, Leoville Poyferre was part of a large estate in the Medoc originally owned by the Marquis de Leoville. After the French revolution the estate was divided and sold at public auction, where the portion that is now Chateau Leoville Poyferre was bought by Monsieur Poyferre. Today the estate is owned and run by Didier Cuvelier and his family and the quality of the wines has soared with modernization of the cellars and other improvements.
1994 Quilceda Creek – It offers deep and compelling aromas of red and black fruits, lead pencil, and traces of oak spices. This full-bodied, concentrated, and chewy wine is thick, dense, and gorgeously defined for such a massive wine. Its combination of power and elegance brought to mind the 1986 Margaux, one of the finest wines ever produced by that illustrious estate… This is a truly magnificent wine, and it will age remarkably well. Drink it between 2004 and 2015. 94 points from the Wine Advocate.
1995 Pahlmeyer – The 1995 Proprietary Red Wine may be even better than the 96 point score I bestowed it. It is unquestionably among the top dozen 1995s. The wine boasts an explosive blackberry/blueberry/cassis-scented nose that has completely soaked up all the new oak in which it has been aged for the last 22 months. Purple/black in color, it exhibits fabulously extracted, layered black fruit flavors that coat the palate, offering a seamless texture and voluptuous impression. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
1996 Leoville Poyferre – This fabulous 1996 was tasted three times from bottle, and it is unquestionably the estate’s finest wine since their blockbuster 1990. Medium to full-bodied, with a saturated black/purple color, the nose offers notes of cedar, jammy black fruits, smoke, truffles, and subtle new oak. In the mouth, there is impressive fruit extraction, a tannic, full-bodied structure, and a classic display of power and finesse. The longer it sat in the glass, the more impressive the wine became. Backward, and massive in terms of its extract and richness, this should prove to be a sensational Leoville-Poyferre for drinking over the next three decades. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.
Which Cabernet Sauvignon should I open?
1995 Pahlmeyer (40%, 21 Votes)
1994 Quilceda Creek (34%, 18 Votes)
1996 Leoville Poyferre (26%, 14 Votes)
Total Voters: 53
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.
Bedrock Wine Co. was founded by Morgan Twain-Peterson in 2007 and focuses on small production wines from several of California’ s most treasured and historic vineyards. The lineup of wines at Bedrock is expanding rapidly, but I think the best of the best are the ancient vineyard Zinfandels Morgan is clearly passionate about.
Stellwagen Vineyard was planted around 1890, and lies less than a half-mile north from Bedrock Vineyard. Like most ancient vineyards of this age, the vineyard is about 10% mixed blacks, with lots of Petite Sirah, Syrah, Carignane, a trace of Semillon, and a “mystery vine” which Morgan Twain-Peterson is committed to one day identifying.
I knew this was going to be the winning bottle for the better part of a day, but I only managed to pop and pour it just before a homemade sausage pizza was pulled from the oven.
Purple in color. 15.3% ABV. Raspberry liqueur and fresh strawberries on the nose. Raspberry compote, bramble fruits, pepper and a hint of vanilla on the palate. The wine is rich, creamy and seamless. The finish is long and spicy. No need for a long tasting note here. This is just a delicious wine that is a total joy to drink. Drink over the next 1-3 years. My rating: 92 points.
The April installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on ancient vine Zinfandel from the 2009 vintage. As I mentioned in the July installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. I plan on opening the winning bottle on April 28th and publishing an in-depth Bottle Note on April 30th.
The ’09 growing season was long and moderate, with only a handful of modest heat spikes, but the second week of October brought an onslaught of rain and as much as six inches dropped in just a few days. Producers went to work quickly to beat the rain, knowing the thin-skinned Zinfandel crop would not survive.
The vineyards represented are a priceless living link to California’s viticultural past – they’ve survived prohibition, disease and the Great Depression. If California were to ever designate its own “Grand Cru” vineyards, these, along with others like Hayne, Pagani and Moore would certainly be among the first considered.
’09 Bedrock Stellwagen Zinfandel – Morgan Peterson reveals his DNA with the 2009 Zinfandel Stellwagon. A brilliant, irresistibly sexy, full-throttle Zinfandel, it displays abundant pepper, herb, bouquet garni and meaty notes as well as fruit, glycerin and high octane. This classic California Zinfandel can be drunk over the next 5-6 years. 91 points from the Wine Advocate.
Vineyard details: The ancient vines here, planted around 1890, lie less than a half-mile north from Bedrock Vineyard. Like most ancient vineyards of this age, the vineyard is about 10% mixed blacks, with lots of Petite Sirah, Syrah, Carignane, a trace of Semillon, and a “mystery vine” which Morgan Twain-Peterson assures of he will one day identify.
’09 Carlisle Martinelli Road Vineyard Zinfandel – Inky ruby. Vibrant, seductively aromatic nose combines blackberry compote, violet, white pepper, licorice and toasty oak (about 28% of it is new here). Juicy and firmly built, with deeply concentrated black and blue fruit and floral flavors lifted by zesty minerality; red fruit nuances come up with air. Shows lovely purity and no excess weight, finishing long, sappy and floral. 94 points from Steve Tanzer.
Vineyard details: First planted in the early 1870s by the Banfield Family, most of the vines succumbed to Phylloxera within their first decade of life. In 1903, Giuseppe Martinelli purchased the ranch. Shortly after the repeal of Prohibition, Giuseppe split the property amongst his heirs. This portion, the original portion to be planted, was given to Domingo. Two additional generations of Martinellis farmed the vineyard until it was recently sold to the McWilliams Family of Arista Winery. Interestingly, unlike most vineyards of this era, Martinelli Road Vineyard is nearly 100% Zinfandel. Out of the five acres of old vines, there are only two Mourvèdre vines, two Blauer Portugeiser vines, and one unidentified white.
’09 Turley Mead Ranch Zinfandel – From another cool climate, high elevation site on Atlas Peak, the dark-colored 2009 Zinfandel Mead Ranch exhibits abundant aromas of blueberries, blackberries, crushed rocks and flowers. With considerable intensity, a multidimensional mouthfeel as well as a dense, long finish, this is one of Larry Turley’s top 2009 Zinfandels. 92 points from the Wine Advocate.
Vineyard details: Mead Ranch is located in the Atlas Peak Appellation of the Napa Valley. The vineyards at Mead Ranch have been in continuous production since 1916, when the three Mead Brothers, Giles, Charles and Albert, bought the ranch. Souverain produced a “Mountain Zinfandel” from Mead ranch as early as the 60s, Rutherford Hill Produced “Mead Ranch–Atlas Peak” zinfandel and zinfandel port in the 70’s.
The 1998 Woodward Canyon Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon was the winning wine in the March installment of Pick My Next Bottle.
Located in the Walla Walla Valley appellation of Washington State, Woodward Canyon Winery was started in 1981 by Rick Small and his wife, Darcey Fugman-Small. Woodward Canyon produces almost a dozen different wines, and their Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Chardonnay are some of the very best examples of those varietals produced in Washington State.
The 1998 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from grapes that were planted in the 1970’s. The grapes were harvested entirely from Champoux vineyard, formerly known as Mercer Ranch, along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington. The very warm growing season of 1998 gave incredibly ripe fruit of great richness and concentration.
The reds from Woodward Canyon age as gracefully as anything produced in Washington.
Bright violet in color. 14.4% ABV. Super ripe with a nose of candied cherries. Leather, tobacco, maraschino cherries, smoke, spice, chocolate, mint and cassis on the palate. The finish is rich, earthy and long. This wine is in a holding pattern – it’s largely unchanged from the bottle I had in the Summer of 2011. I will let my last few bottles cellar for another 3-5 years.
My rating: 93 points.
The wine is widely available at retail, at the winery and via the mailing list. The current vintage of the Old Vines Cabernet can be found for right around $80. The Artists Series Cabernet is a more affordable but delicious alternative for about $45.
The winery is also a great first stop as you head into the Walla Walla wine country!
The March installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on 1998 Washington Cabernet. As I mentioned in the July installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. I plan on opening the winning bottle on March 30th and publishing an in-depth Bottle Note on April 1st.
The 1998 vintage was a winemakers dream in the Walla Walla Valley. The year was very warm with perfect conditions from bloom to harvest. Yields were naturally low and resulted in wines of incredible intensity, color, and fruit.
’98 Quilceda Creek – Blackberry jam, juniper berries, and spices can be found in the rich aromatics of the stunning, dark-colored 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon. A wine of awesome breadth, width, concentration, and power, this full-bodied beauty is crammed with lush layers of blackberries, plums, and cassis. This offering’s prodigious fruit envelopes its copious silky tannin. Additionally, it displays an extraordinarily long finish. Drink it between 2005 and 2016. 96 points from The Wine Advocate.
’98 Leonetti Reserve – I could not help breaking into a smile when I tasted the medium to dark ruby-colored 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Its extraordinarily spicy, cherry syrup-scented nose leads to a flavor profile that explodes on the palate with substantial quantities of cherry syrup, raspberry coulis, and Asian spices. Gary Figgins’ Cabernets can be as boisterous as Olivier Humbrecht’s Gewurztraminers. The purity and power of the sweet, spicy fruit flavors found in this wine are truly extraordinary. Additionally, it possesses an extremely long, candied, sweet tannin-filled finish. 96 points from The Wine Advocate.
’98 Woodward Canyon Old Vines – The old vines in question hail from what used to be the Mercer Ranch Vineyard (now Champoux), and date back to the 1970s, making them ancient for Washington state. Purple black, spicy and deep, this is a sensational wine that manages to be both elegant and powerful at the same time. Dense, ripe fruit, detailed spices, balanced oak and perfect tannins make this a textbook Washington Cabernet. 94 points from Wine Enthusiast.
Which 1998 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon
Woodward Canyon (54%, 43 Votes)
Leonetti (28%, 22 Votes)
Quilceda Creek (18%, 14 Votes)
Total Voters: 79
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.