California Barrel Tasting (2001 vintage) - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 05-05-2003

Attended this event Saturday night at the Watergate Hotel in DC and have the wine-stained fingerprints on my program to prove it! Couple exceptions to the 2001 California cabernet sauvignons or Bordeaux-like blends mostly from Napa Valley: Andrew Will Sorella from Washington, a few merlots, and a 2002 Ridge Montebello.
I took notes on some, not all that I tried.

2001 Michel Schlumberger C.S./Merlot blend--plummy, smooth, not too tannic. Wood more noticeable with the reserve. Regular bottle priced at $27.00 on futures, reserve at $49.00.

2001 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon--Alexander Valley Reserve $80.00 Thought this was very nice but $80 is too much for me. I will look for their regular bottling.

2001 Joseph Phelps Insignia--not as dark in color as the Schlumberger or Matanzas Creek. Nice but couldn't really judge if it would mature into a wine worth $100.

2001 Frazier Cabernet Sauvignon--a winery with which I'm not familiar--east end of Napa Valley. First taste in mouth seemed light but a lot of tannin kicked in on the mid-palate. This is one I would consider buying a bottle or two to see how it matures, except that at $50 a bottle, I don't like to take chances. Anyone have experience with Frazier C.S. from other vintages? It seemed to have potential.

2001 ZD Cabernet Sauvignon $33.00 and
2000 ZD Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $79.00
Liked both. Like the price of the regular bottling. The 2001 was approachable and fruity and enjoyable now. The 2000 Reserve was more layered and profound speaking to me of cassis and maybe chocolate cherries. Both wines supple, smooth, not too tannic, very nice and mellow. Mr. Dillers(?), son of one of the co-founders and Director of Marketing was also one of the very amiable people manning booths. (Most were actual winemakers, although a few for health reasons or schedule conflicts delegated the presenting to sales reps or others).

2001 Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa $36.00 and
2001 Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville,
$56.00 (didn't try the private stock listed at $100)
The Oakville bottling was more complex with a better aroma and taste than the Napa designation. Here I would say that the pricing is in line with the quality but getting too steep for me for a domestic wine.

Andrew Will Sorella--Bordeaux-like blend $40.00
(This is the one I didn't get to taste in Raleigh because they ran out of it)
Very nice and smooth-drinking. Prefered it to the Champoux blend I tried in Raleigh.

2001 David Ramey C.S., Diamond Mountain $50.00 dark, almost opaque, some different scents I couldn't pin down, fruit obvious but drying on the finish; impression: worth decanting and having with food; promising but too young at this stage

2001 Thunder Mountain Cabernet Sauvigon (Doc's?) $45.00
from old vines; very smooth and impressive

2001 Von Strasser C.S., Diamond Mountain $46.00 (didn't make notes)
2001 Von Strasser C.S., Post Estate $55.00
noted only that is was okay
2001 Von Strasser C.S. Reserve $100.00 much better, smooth tannins again quality increases with price but prices increase too steeply for my budget

2001 Dunn C.S., Howell Mountain $65.00
Dense and dark, not my style at present, give it 8-10 years at least (another attendee posting on said this wine had TOO MUCH TANNIN and his eight-year-old son might not live long enough to drink it in its maturity)

I did enjoy meeting Randy Dunn, winemakers from Frog's Leap and Simi and Ridge Monte Bello, meeting again Chris Camarda from Andrew Will, etc.

Someone, I don't recall who, invited me to the after-tasting party on the 12th floor where I tasted still more wines including a Barbaresco. But my favorite was a Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet (wow! it was good--I think from 1999 although it could have been a 2000). I think I saw it in Macarthur's Beverages for around $100! Wonder if it is a premier cru or grand cru that was declassified because of over-production? I was tipsy enough at this point, that although I took note of a bottle of Clos de Vougeot, I forgot to go back and try it after finishing the Puligny. Fortunately, I was staying in the Watergate Hotel overnight (special rates in connection with this event and they upgraded me from a regular room to a suite)and so did not need a designated driver. There was plenty of food available both at the tasting downstairs and in the 12th floor room. (smoked salmon, many cheeses including St. Andrew, Tomme de Savoie, Montrachet goat cheese, bleu cheese,
pate, grapes, olives, a yummy duck something in a wrapper with chives or scallions, possibly carvings of beef although I didn't take any). I can see why this event attracts a following year-to-year. One called it the best tasting on the East Coast. Another said in the USA! It also benefits Cancer Research, a Bassin family cause honoring the man behind Bassin's or Macarthur Beverages.

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 05-05-2003).]

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 12-15-2003).]

- winoweenie - 05-06-2003

WOW!!!! WOW what a nite ....Good thing you had the foresight to book close to the bar. I have the 95, 96, and 97 version of the Frazier in the cellar. Great P?Q for Napa and always well-made. Notes on the 95 show it was close to being outstanding at the time (2-99 ). I scored it at 88/90. 30 per clatter by the box. WW

- wondersofwine - 05-06-2003

Thanks, WW, for the info on Frazier. I may order one or two bottles of the 2001 along with 3 bottles of the ZD cab.