We drove up Howell Mountain to get to Cade two Sundays ago. What we witnessed was a horror show of fire damage. It’s hard to see nature destroyed in such a fashion. What was worse were all the brick chimneys only standing where there were once a home or a winery building.
Glass fire note. The fire investigation revealed the fire was started by a Cakebread electric fence short. An additional saddening note is Dolores Cakebread, the co-founder of Cakebread Cellars died shortly after the Glass Fire started. She was 90. No way to know if the stress of the fire factored into her passing.
With the first taste, you could immediately sense the step up from the Howell Mtn. The fruit much more ruby and while the tannins still big but are more well rounded & soft. It’s decadent. The structure, tension less astringent and the length/balance more beautiful over the Howell Mtn. The fruits, ripe juicier & ruby; dark cherries, blackberries, black raspberries, black plum, fresh roast, leathery, graphite, herbaceous quality, tobacco, dry stems, some dark spice, softly layered baking spices, crushed rocks with florals that are fresh & candied; dark, red, purple framed in a field of understated lavender & brilliant violets. The acidity is excellent. The long, lush, elegant, well knitted & balanced finish is truly special persisting into dry, powdery tannins, earth & spice.
This will flirt with a 95-96 with ten years in bottle.
Photos of; Cade Estate vines, outside patio tasting area, infinity wall and their Estate Cabernet fruit unharvested. Sadly, about 80-85% of the 2020 Napa Valley Cabernet fruit will never see bottling. — 15 days ago
The 2012 Saxum ‘Bone Rock’ Syrah (WWB, 95) is a stunning wine which shows tremendous verve, terroir, weight and intensity, with an exceedingly long finish. The wine is sourced from the Bone Rock block of James Berry Vineyard which is a steeply sloped site planted to head trained Syrah. Amazingly enough, while terracing they found fossilized whale bones when they were digging and needed to use jack hammers to plant the vines. It is not surprising that the flinty undertones impress alongside a deep core of dark currants, wild blackberries and pipe tobacco flavors. The brightness and length of the wine adds to the drinking enjoyment. Showing beautiful poise and elegance, the 2012 ‘Bone Rock’ Syrah will continue to provide drinking enjoyment over the next ten to fifteen years. Drink 2020-2033 — 9 months ago
Eager to check back on the ‘05 vintage, the 2005 ‘Divinus’ by the talented André Lurton, is an impressive blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, sourced from vines roughly 20 years of age. Aged for eighteen months in French oak, this shows some lighter tertiary tones aromatically with peat moss and wild mushroom that mingle with the core of dark fruits that take shape in the glass. Medium to full-bodied, a bright acidity cuts through rather straightforward blackberry and black cherry flavors with minerals and shades of pipe tobacco on the palate. Light tannins frame this wine that shows well now and will provide drinking enjoyment over the next seven to ten years. Drink 2019-2025- 90 — a year ago
Chateau Carbonnieux is one of the largest estates in Pessac Leognan. It boasts some high profile neighbors, such as Chateau Haut Bailly and Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte. The 90 hectares of gravel-based soil is evenly split between red and white.
As it often happened in France, Benedictine monks started planting vines on this land in the 13th century. Perrin family bought the estate in 1956, proceeding to a renovation of the vineyard and the cellar.
This excellent example of white Bordeaux is composed of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon. The vinification is made in barrel, a third of them in new French oak. The wine is left on the lees for ten further months, before being put in bottles.
Beautiful golden color with paler reflexes, young and vivid despite its eight years of slow aging, the first impact on the nose is fresh and green, with prevalent notes of lime and cucumber. Some decanting time reveals floral notes, elderflower, jasmine, ripe peaches, with some bready tones provided by the lees — a very balanced nose with bright flavors.
In the mouth, a beautiful sapid dry wine with high acidity, medium body, medium to high alcohol. The latter is the only spike in an otherwise perfectly rounded taste. Aftertaste reminding citrus and stone fruit.
A great drink, one of the best white wines from Bordeaux in the 20-30£ range. Ready to drink in 8-10 years. — 2 years ago
If I am having an Allen Brothers Ribcap, I am also opening a good bottle of Bordeaux.
The 08 Bordeaux vintage goes down in the record books as good not great. This is not nearly as good as the 2000 I had a few years back...one of the few 10’s I’ve scored since starting to write notes. However, it does drink better earlier than 2000.
Ten years in bottle was just the right amount of time to check in on this 08. It will continue to improve over the next 5-7 years and hold another 8-10 years with proper storage.
With the first sip, it was elegant, refined and showing it is Latour’s close relative. My next thought was how good it will be with the Ribcap. Good on its own but, even better with steak.
It shows classic Bordeaux style. Just ripe fruits of; blackberries, black raspberries, plum, dark cherries, hints of blue & purple fruit. The tannins nicely round and velvety. The structure, tension, length & balance are just starting to hit their groove. Black licorice, black tea, stones, dry loamy topsoil, dark rich earth, less pencil shaving, soft leather, understated baking spices with withering; dark, red and blue florals. The acidity was nicely executed. The finish is; stunning, elegant and very well balanced with excellent persistence.
Photos of; Chateau Latour, iconic building that since in the middle of their Estate vines, barrel room and wide shot of their estate.
Side note. Having visited Latour three times, it has always been the most clean & pristine winemaking facilities I’ve seen in my many world wine region travels. You could eat off the floor. For me, they are the “King of Kings” in Cabernet. — 4 months ago
First time having this. I could be wrong but this seems like a perfect wine for some nice aged cheese🤷🏼♂️
The eponymous 2016 El Sequé is pure Monastrell from old vines on sandy soils in the village of Pinoso. It fermented for ten to 12 days in open-top stainless steel tanks after a 24- to 48-hour cold soak with pigeage and pumping over. It matured in oak barriques until malolactic completed. — 7 months ago
When in doubt, a sure bet is a well aged, good vintage Heitz. @Eric Shanks
I intended to grab an 06 but, mistakenly grabbed an 07. I’ve not had one of my 06’s yet...next weekend.
The one thing I do every time I open one of my ten year or older Heitz Napa Cabernet’s is smile & think, this was sub $35 at Costco. It’s the wine feeling/definition of stealing candy from babies.
The nose is a beautiful harmony of fruit, earth and florals. Steeped, somewhat stewed, candied fruits of; dark currants/cassis, blackberries, dark cherries, black raspberries, mix of purple fruits; boysenberries, ollieberries, & mulberries. Dark, sweet tarriness, anise to black licorice, touch of incense, fire ambers, dark spices with violets palate heat, chocolate pudding, vanilla, light; cinnamon, clove & nutmeg, dark chocolate, caramel, sweet, soft, dark spice, dark berry cola, dark cherry kirsch, dark, rich earth, limestone, crushed, dry rocks, dry top soil, moist clay, understated herbs & dry brush, brewed coffee, mint, some sage & bay leaf, tobacco, dry, old leather with amazing, fresh & slightly withering & candied; dark, red, blue, purple with a violet & lavender frame. The acidity is splendid. The long, ripe, ruby, lush, elegant, well crafted balance of fruit & earth is delicious and persists endlessly with a dark spice on the long set.
The body is; delightful, ripe, rich, lush & full. The structure, tension, length and balance are woven in a perfect tapestry. This 07 has another 10-15 years easily. The tannins are rounded, smooth but, still have a dark, chewy, tarriness with baby teeth. The beauty of the vintage is on full display. Steeped, somewhat stewed, candied fruits of; dark currants/cassis, blackberries, dark cherries, black raspberries, mix of purple fruits; boysenberries, ollieberries, & mulberries. Dark, sweet tarriness, anise to black licorice, touch of incense, fire ambers, chocolate pudding, vanilla, light; cinnamon, clove & nutmeg, dark & milk chocolate, caramel, sweet, soft, dark spice, dark berry cola, dark cherry kirsch, dark, rich earth, limestone, crushed, dry rocks, dry top soil, moist clay & dry brush, brewed coffee, mint, tobacco, dry, old leather with amazing, fresh & slightly withering & candied ; dark, red, blue, purple with a violet & lavender frame. The acidity is perfect. The finish is; rich, ripe, ruby, candied, well balanced fruit & earth, elegant and long sets into velvety, round tannins and mid dark spices.
Photos of; the winery, tasting patio, old basket press and wide shot of the winery & Estate vines. — a year ago
100% Syrah from vines that’s are 10-65 years old and managed manually for the most part. Fermented in concrete and aged for two years in barrels of various sizes but mostly larger (225L-600L). Popped and poured. This bottle took about ten minutes to open but when it did, ohhhhh baby! On the nose it was a mix of blue fruits, dark cherry, and a high end yoga studio...you know, the ones with incense of sandalwood, gardenia and bergamot...basically everything but the patchouli. On the palate, things got even more interesting with firm blue fruits, tart dark cherries, lightly spiced meats and minerals. The finish lasts for five minutes. In fact, there is crazy effect after a couple of minutes that reminds me of Acmella oleracea (Sichuan buttons or buzz buttons). Absolutely wild! Never had a wine do that. No doubt, this is a Saint-Joseph of the highest level. Definitely a producer to keep an eye out for. — 4 months ago
So, if it’s my birthday celebration, there is a juicy ribeye & some old(er) Claret.
My only disappointment with this bottle is as good as it is, there are better things still down the road.
The nose reveals classic Claret. There are earthy, funky fruits of; blackberries, black raspberries, dark cherries, black plum, baked strawberries with shades of raspberries. Steeped fruit teas, limestone minerals, dry crushed rocks, stones, black, rich earth, clay, dry herbs, dark berry cola, cedar, leather, not quite fresh tobacco, underbrush, graphite, gentle, dark spice, slight peppery notes, clove, touch of nutmeg & cinnamon & vanillin, anise to black licorice, eucalyptus notes with fresh & slightly candied florals of, red, dark, blue, purple & violets.
The body is medium full with rounded, nicely resolved, tarry tannins. The structure, tension, length and balance are really singing. It would be good to have another 2001 LMHB in ten years. While 2001 wasn’t a critically acclaimed vintage, I think LMHB over performed the vintage. As well, it followed a grand 2000 vintage which, handicapped it from the start. Ripe; blackberries, black raspberries, dark cherries, black plum, baked strawberries, bright cherries, rhubarb, figs, with shades of raspberries. Steeped fruit teas, limestone minerals, dry crushed rocks, stones, black, rich earth, clay, dry top soil, dry herbs, dark berry cola, cedar, leather, not quite fresh tobacco, underbrush, graphite, gentle, dark spice with soft heat, slight peppery notes, clove, touch of nutmeg & cinnamon & vanillin, anise to black licorice, eucalyptus notes with fresh & slightly candied florals of, red, dark, blue, purple & violets. The acidity is excellent...like a gentle rain shower. The long finish is elegance defined, extremely well balanced ending in soft, round, dry, dusty tannins with beautiful spice.
Photos of; Chateau La Mission Haut Brion & estate vines, beautiful barrel room, pond & Roman columns and the back vow of the Chateau.
Please indulge me while I post some history on this grand producer. As much as I love the wine, I love the history & people that do the hard work to bring us such great wines.
Chateau La Mission Haut Brion is not quite as old as Chateau Haut Brion. However, they are opposite side of the road neighbors. La Mission Haut Brion dates back to the late 16th century. The property came into being after it was purchased by Jean de Pontac in 1533. US winery history is a baby compared to France.
In 1607, the estate changed hands. It was inherited by Ms. Olive de Lestonnac. What an inheritance!
In 1815, something rare happened. Chateau La Mission Haut Brion became the property of an American owner, the Chiapelle family. At the time, the family was already involved in the Bordeaux wine trade. In fact, they knew about the business as they had managed a myriad of different estates including Chateau Cos d’ Estournel.
La Mission Haut Brion continued to change hands until it was finally sold to another American family, the Woltner’s. Frederic Woltner purchased La Mission Haut Brion in 1919. The also became owners on Howell Mountain.
It changed hands one final time in 1983 when it was purchased by Domaine Clarence Dillon, the owner of neighboring, Chateau Haut Brion. They renovated the entire property, starting with replanting the vineyards which, was completed in 1987.
The 26 hectare vineyard of Chateau La Mission Haut Brion is planted to; 45.8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43.8% Merlot and 10.4% Cabernet Franc. 3.5 hectares of vines are reserved for the production of the white Bordeaux.
To produce the red wine of Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, the wine is vinified in large, 180 hectoliter, temperature controlled, stainless steel vats and aged in 100% new, French oak for an average of 22 months. The annual production of La Mission Haut Brion averages between 6,000 and 7,000 cases per year. — 8 months ago
No full detailed notes as we had guests for dinner and none left to re-taste today.
This a classic Howell Mountain Cabernet in every way except the price I paid for vintages 2010 and prior. I’ve been able to find it at Costco for around $45. However, I haven’t seen it at Costco since then. Still a blue chip Howell Mountain producer and a steal at that price.
The palate revealed, ripe; blackberries, dark cherries, classic Howell Mountain blue fruits and strawberries as it opened up after a 1/2 hour in the glass. Loads of baking spices, excellent structure and length, well balanced fruit and earth loads of violets and lavender, really good acidity and a long, beautiful finish that persisted minutes.
Photos of; their beautiful Howell Mountain property, their barrel/tasting-dining room, terrace tasting patio and their Estate vines.
This drank nicely last night but, would wait another five years to open another. Still has not hit its peak and will age gracefully for another ten plus years. — 2 years ago