Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

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Joe Davis
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Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#1 Post by Joe Davis » August 7th, 2019, 5:09 pm

Had the pleasure of visiting with Merrill Lindquist at her EMH vineyard outside of Calistoga near the Solange Resort last week. She had just returned the night before from Boston where she had been rooting for her Red Sox.
It was a lovely warm August morning and these behemoth vines were moving right along as the fruit set looked very even and quite healthy. The vines planted back in 2002 I think, looked mature and well cared for some of it clone 4 on St. GEORGE rootstock, which seems to be a killer combo for her.

We stepped inside and sat down to two beautiful expressions of the site. I was immediately attracted to the extremely refined 2006 and focused most of my attention there. My colleague was wowed by the expressive fruit of the 2014 Special Selection and kept his nose buried in the glass of dark berry fruits.
I continued to watch the 2006 unfold its nuanced casis and savory aromatics. Neither of these wines are intended to blow your head back, rather they are expressions of elegance and are even keeled in their delivery of pleasure. The 2006 at 13 years of age is a more cerebral wine, it really is a bit of a masterpiece meaning that its complexity is subtle and requires your focused attention to fully appreciate its true glory.

By somewhat of a contrast the 2014 Special Selection is still quite youthful and loaded with primary fruit at the forefront. Oh its polished and rounded and would be many folks favorite of the two wines tasted. I like that it shares a simular nuance to the 06 and clearly Merrill's style shines through both of these wines.
I came away from our meeting knowing that we shared a mutual appreciation for elegance and balance in our wines.
Our 10:30 meeting extended into a lunch at the resort where we managed to polish off these two terrific wines. Grateful for the conversation and company.

Of special note be on the lookout for a third wine from Merrill with a Sapphire delineation.

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Anton D
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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#2 Post by Anton D » August 7th, 2019, 5:41 pm

Wow, what a great note.

I like the EMH house style.
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Albert R
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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#3 Post by Albert R » August 7th, 2019, 5:47 pm

The 2006 is my favorite Black Cat to date (and it did blow me away!). We had it in 2016, it was beautiful and just as you describe. Glad to hear it's still drinking great!
Cheers,

@. Re-go

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Merrill Lindquist
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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#4 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 7th, 2019, 7:17 pm

Anton D wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 5:41 pm
Wow, what a great note.

I like the EMH house style.
It is impossible to get away from the "house style." The vineyard demands it. Some vintages are bigger than others, but it would be difficult to miss the component of EMH fruit.

I opened the 2006 for Joe with much forethought. Knowing his older wines , and HIS house style, I knew he would love this. I love it. Unfortunately I have less than a case left.

Joe gifted me a bottle he knew I would love. Will post when I open it.
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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#5 Post by R. Frankel » August 7th, 2019, 7:46 pm

Great note. I love the 2006, possibly only bested by the 2008. The only ‘14 I’ve had is one I pobega’d the day my shipment arrived. Very promising. Sounds like you had a lovely visit!
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bob poirier
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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#6 Post by bob poirier » August 8th, 2019, 7:30 am

2006 is also my favorite and was when we tasted back in March of 18' Glad I have 2 left.

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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#7 Post by Mike Grammer » August 8th, 2019, 11:08 am

Lovely notes, Joe, and I'm so pleased the two of you spent time together in this way!

My thoughts on the 06 from a visit/dinner with Merrill and Roy Piper 4 years ago:

"2006 EMH Black Cat Cab

Merrill is fiendishly devoted to precise decanting. She decanted this at 2 pm for our 7 pm taste. This is really elegance personified (Roy remarking that he loves how the 06 vintage of many CaliCabs is drinking) and finds leather nuances seeping into light cedar and herbs and quite pure berry and currant aromatics. The palate also has a lovely feel to it, coursing through the mouth and down the throat with gentle black fruit and just an end-swirl of coffee. For me, it remained quite consistent over the 2 hours or so we sipped at it. It is a fine, fine wine."


I may like the 13 just a tiny bit more, but this was a stunner in its own right.

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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#8 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 8th, 2019, 11:30 am

bob poirier wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 7:30 am
2006 is also my favorite and was when we tasted back in March of 18' Glad I have 2 left.
I have not watched any of my wines go over the hill as yet - the first vintage being the 2000 (of which I have exactly one bottle left). All the others cruise graciously into old age, and for my taste, I think the 2006 is at peak. But who knows when vintages or certain bottles start to go over the cliff? The 2004 is a lot like 2006 - only have 1 750ml and 2 mags of that, so not a likely candidate for casual look in.
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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#9 Post by Nathan Smyth » August 8th, 2019, 1:22 pm

What's the tannic grip [intended to be] like on a young Black Cat?

Meaning what are you trying for in terms of mouthfeel when the wine is bottled & released?

And how does the grip lessen over the years?

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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#10 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 8th, 2019, 4:00 pm

Nathan Smyth wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 1:22 pm
What's the tannic grip [intended to be] like on a young Black Cat?

Meaning what are you trying for in terms of mouthfeel when the wine is bottled & released?

And how does the grip lessen over the years?
I do not do anything to extract extra tannins nor color. Typically, the wines are approachable in the first 6 months post-bottling, and then they sometimes get disjointed - with the fruit hanging in one place, the acid in another, the tannins and oak influence not integrated. This is not for every vintage, but it is part of a typical cycle I l am familiar with. 2007 never went through it. 2009 never went through it. 2011 Special Selection never went through it. I tried the 2015 single-barrel Lady Sapphire the other night, and I and 2 other people found it way too tannic.

The thing I always hope for is balance, and many people remark how balanced my wines are. These are not beasts that require years and years in order to enjoy. A sweet spot is GENERALLY 5-10 years from harvest. But that 2006, for people who like a more integrated, seamless wine, is where that wine is at 13 years out. But it has been at that spot, now, for some number of years.

I desire a soft mouthfeel, so generally I use around 20% new French oak barrels. All other barrels have been used once or twice by prior Black Cat vintages.
Merrill
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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#11 Post by Nathan Smyth » August 8th, 2019, 4:12 pm

So you're not looking to imbue the wines with any sort of a persistent midpalate grip which might require several decades to soften?

Also, in general, do you feel that the grip comes more from the oak or from the skins [or from some other place, such as the seeds or the stems]?

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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#12 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 8th, 2019, 4:25 pm

Nathan Smyth wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 4:12 pm
So you're not looking to imbue the wines with any sort of a persistent midpalate grip which might require several decades to soften?

Also, in general, do you feel that the grip comes more from the oak or from the skins?
No, I make a wine that people can enjoy, generally, in a year or 2.
I made one wine - the 2002 - that was incredibly tannic. It was my first wine made with the intention to release commercially. It was a single barrel, and a new one at that. So my guess is that the oak caused that intense tannic character. I don't do any extended maceration to increase tannins.
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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#13 Post by Nathan Smyth » August 8th, 2019, 6:20 pm

Have you tried the 2002 recently, to see how those tannins are faring?

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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#14 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 8th, 2019, 7:18 pm

Nathan Smyth wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 6:20 pm
Have you tried the 2002 recently, to see how those tannins are faring?
No, I only have 2. When I drink one it will be for satisfaction, not n the name of "science."
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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#15 Post by Charlie Carnes » August 9th, 2019, 10:17 am

Great note Joe, I love EMH and Merrill's take on CS. Elegant and beautiful... I agree!
So shines a good deed in a weary world!

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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#16 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 9th, 2019, 5:44 pm

Thanks everyone. The 2006 obviously won't be part of National Black Cat Appreciation Day specials, but a limited number of the 2014SS will be. See commerce corner for details.
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Re: Black Cat Cabernet 2006 and Black Cat Special Selection 2014

#17 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 12th, 2019, 3:04 pm

I was just thinking this morning, as I worked in the vineyard, that Joe had the planting date just a bit off. Most of the vineyard was planted in 1995 on 110R, clone 4. Some where between 1988 and 1995 the small block of St. George was planted (my favorite vines of all my babies). Then some 20 vines were planted in 2002 on 110R clone 337. Probably doesn't matter to anyone, but wanted to make this accurate.

This week I have had reports of a stellar 2003, a gorgeous 2006 from magnum, and a 2009 that my client said almost made him open one of his remaining 2 2009s. So, if you have those, open with confidence! None of these will be part of my Appreciation Day celebration. I just have so few of these.
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