2 champagnes,4 white Burgs, 9 Napa/Sonoma Cabs incl Caymus, Kapcsandy, Peter Michael, Verite, Switchback Ridge

Our dinner group enjoyed a fine outing at Chuck’s Steak House, a local fav ands great venue for Cabs and Bordeaux. Nine of us were seated on the makeshift outdoor sidewalk patio and poured way too many wines although I did not hear any complaints but did notice some palate fatigue.

Our wine theme on this occasion was for the usual champagne and white Burgundy plus top tier American Cabernet Sauvignon which we brown bagged and tasted blind.

We enjoyed 2 fine champagnes:

2002 LAURENT-PERRIER BRUT MILLESIME- the previous day, most of us in attendance had attended a champagne party where 12 fabulous champagnes were opened including 08 and 09 Cristal, 95 Charles Heidsieck Brut de Millenaires, 02 Bollinger Grande Annee, 99 Philipponnat Reserve Millesime, 06 Egly-Ouriet Brut Millesime and many other winners; amazingly, many of us thought this bubbly was as good as any we’d had on that day; it was truly fabulous; this is the 5th bottle I’ve had and all have been really good, but this one took it to another level; it was super rich and creamy, full bodied and yet had so much finesse and loads of sophistication; following its medium yellow color came aromas of honeyed lemon zest which continued on to be joined by ginger and spice laden citrus, apple and pear; a huge hit of spice finished it off nicely; of all of the attributes this had, it was its unexpected power, mouthfeel and balance that stood out.

2008 LOUIS ROEDERER BRUT VINTAGE- I was happy to see this arrive albeit quite late in the evening, as I bought a lot and have enjoyed each bottle in their early stage, but it`s been a year since the last one and this confirmed how righteous it is; it shined brightly with perky acidity within its balanced state and had a wonderful taste profile that included vanilla, ginger, toasted brioche, citrus, especially lemon, lime and pear flavors with a touch of minerality; it showed beautifully and improved in the glass over time becoming richer and creamier.

Next up, 4 white Burgundy:

2018 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY LE BANC ST-AUBIN- this was splendid with mlld notes of flint and minerals in the nose, followed by fresh and ripe citrus fruit on the palate while being delivered in a creamy textured medium; another fine PYCM that just consistently pleases.

2018 DOMAINE de MONTILLE PULIGNY-MONTRACHET- this is not your usually village wine as 80% of this comes from declassified premier cru Les Chalumeaux; it was really good having fresh citrus fruit prevailing throughout; it gave generous amounts of lemon oil, honeysuckle and fresh white flower notes along with a touch of almond butter; elegance and balance are additional highlights.

2018 LATOUR CORTON CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU- falling right in line with the first 2 before it, here comes another stellar white Burg that has it all; this was creamy and rich, giving concentrated citrus notes especially with lemon and lime plus hazelnut, apple blossom and an unexpected accent of pine; it was full bodied and possessed a long, welcomed finish.

2018 DOMAINE DELARCHE CORTON CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU- we`ve just had 3 super fine white Burgs and now here comes a 4th and maybe the best one of all; this was thick and creamy, luscious and lovely; honeyed and mineral laced citrus was dominant throughout; lemon and lime zest was joined by white peach and yellow apple while the underlying streak of minerals provided the right accent all the way to the back end where everything gathered and hung out providing a grand finish.

3 flights of 3 Cabs tasted blind followed. The first 3:

2005 TWO HANDS CHARLIES PATCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- this was pretty big from the color on and as such, I found myself taking small sips and being satisfied that was enough to get the pearls this had to offer; it was full bodied with lots of power and yet some finesse, close to the iron fist, velvet glove analogy; talc and sandalwood infused dark fruit contributes to a nice taste profile; theres still some evidence of underlying tannins that are now mostly integrated and their contribution to the overall acidity should ensure longevity.

1996 PETER MICHAEL WINERY LES PAVOTS KNIGHTS VALLEY SONOMA- 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc; this was amazingly youthful from the vibrant dark red purple color on and once revealed, I was surprised to discover the vintage as I had it much younger; it possessed lots of finesse and charm; talc laden blackberry fruit was most prominent with a bit of plum and black cherry; it was medium bodied and had a soft and smooth texture.

2014 KAPCSANDY FAMILY WINERY ESTATE CUVEE STAR LANE VINEYARD NAPA- 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot; aged 20 months in 80% new French oak, 15% second fill French, and 5% new Hungarian oak; each time I write up notes on this winery, I keep thinking I’m misspelling it, but after repeatedly checking it out, that’s not the case; here comes my early childhood, communion related descriptor= it was “grapey”, not the Welch`s Grape Juice that was so often used, but pretty close, at least initially; with time it changed a bit and black cherry/ berry fruit became more evident before black currant showed up past mid palate; this had some depth and complexity and needs a few years/ decades before reaching its apex.

The next blind flight of 3 Cabs:

2009 HOURGLASS BLUELINE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- I did not recognize my own bring; I bought a lot of Hourglass wines after the son of the owner, Jeff Smith, attended a few of this dinner group`s outings in the early/ mid 2000s and brought some of his wines, all of which were stupendous; I had to get some and even visited the winery and got an inside tour and tasting from Jeff as well as a cave tour; this bottle showcased many of the fine attributes I’ve been accustomed to experiencing in these wines; milk chocolate, mint and eucalyptus accented black cherry was most prominent in this full bodied, complex beauty that was enhanced by its super soft mouthfeel.

2001 VERITE LES DESIR BORDEAUX BLEND SONOMA- 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Malbec; 2/3 came from Alexander Valley Mountain Estate, 30% from Chalk Hill and the remainder from Knight’s Valley; even though this did not fit the Cab dominate theme request, it was very good and received lots of accolades; nice ripe blackberry and black currant runs all the way through while being delivered in a soft, silky medium; it had good balance and finished on an uptick to complete the deal.

2005 SWITCHBACK RIDGE PETERSON FAMILY VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- I’ve enjoyed this producer`s wines across the board over many vintages but our bottle was flawed with VA dominate compounds, in this case, ethyl acetate, which gives off nail polish remover like aromas/ flavors.

We finished off with the last blind flight of 3:

2008 VENGE VINEYARDS BONE ASH VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- initially, this came off hot and almost unapproachable, but things changed for the better with time and a lot of swirling and it actually ended up in a good place giving some tasty dark fruit notes of blueberry, plum, blackberry and black currant with accents of leather and tar.

2003 PRADO MADERA CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- this is a new producer to me and comes from Saint Helena where many fine wineries exist {Pride, Joseph Phelps, Duckhorn, Beringer et al}; this bottle offered inviting aromas of mildly oaked dark fruit that became predominantly earth and leather laden black cherry once tasted; it was pleasant and in decent balance with lots of depth and length.

2004 CAYMUS VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- this showed really well with lots of varietally correct notes from the nose through the tail; aromas of milk chocolate and dark fruit previewed more of the same on the palate plus leather and vanilla accented blackberry and black currant; it was full bodied and had lots of layered complexity and once revealed, I wondered how it would compare to the Special Selection, as this was really good.

We finished up with a dessert wine:

2003 CHATEAU LA TOUR BLANCHE SAUTERNES- 375 ml; this was honeyed and burnt apricot nectar at its best served up in a honey like textured medium.


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Didn’t Kapscandy get a lot of wine board press a few years ago? Now you rarely see it discussed.

BTW, great post and notes. Thank you.

I still remember my first bottle of 96 Les Pavots. Good evening and a great wine. Appreciate your posting.

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I really do not know. I do know some of our local wine folks are fans of this winery, but I have very little knowledge about them and only occasionally get to sample a wine and all have been decent.

The main wines (excluding the rose and the estate cuvee Blake’s group drank) are quite expensive. The 2019 cab was $400; the merlot and cab franc are $300+. Not many people on this board drink wines in that price range. The merlot in particular is priced in a range normally reserved for the top Pomerols and St. Emilions (other than the pinnacles, such as Petrus and Cheval Blanc). Plus, they are meant to be aged like a Bordeaux. Even the “baby” Kapcsandy has very dry youthful tannins. The tasting notes I see often complain they don’t show much. If people are expecting something showy and vibrant, like many California cabs people talk about more frequently, it’s not going to live up to those expectations.

It’s an issue for the winery. They received, and continue to receive, very high scores (Tanzer’s retrospective tastings scored about as high as he scores California wines), but if they are meant to be drunk in years 20-30, and no one knows for sure what they will be like because it hasn’t been 20-30 years yet, that’s a long time to float a loan on hope.

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They continue to make very good wines, and as late as 2013 were still producing bordeaux blends that were occasionally listed below 14% abv, which is an outlier. Even so, they are lovely and complex when on. I think there’s one in my avatar, actually, which was a funny night in which Two Buck Chuck was very much outclassed.

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One thing I appreciate about you (from what I can ascertain from your TNs and recaps of the various great dinner and tastings you write about) is that you’re able to enjoy and appreciate wines from so many different styles. Far too often here and on other boards, you’re either in one camp or the other, and never in both. “This Cali Cab is undrinkable, I couldn’t finish it.” “This Grand Cru Burg tastes like dirt and is thin…yuck.” Your balanced and forthright assessment is appreciated, Blake. Bummer about that Switchback Ridge.

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2001 VERITE LES DESIR BORDEAUX BLEND SONOMA- 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Malbec; 2/3 came from Alexander Valley Mountain Estate, 30% from Chalk Hill and the remainder from Knight’s Valley; even though this did not fit the Cab dominate theme request, it was very good and received lots of accolades; nice ripe blackberry and black currant runs all the way through while being delivered in a soft, silky medium; it had good balance and finished on an uptick to complete the deal.

Back when Verite was affordable.

Had the 2002 of this wine and loved it but would never buy current vintages at the prices they are going for.

Not that matters to the tasting whatsoever, but Lou Kapscandy just passed a few weeks ago.

Yep, their wines used to get a lot more notice on this board and the tastings with Lou were often talked about as some of folks’ favorites in Napa. Not sure why they are not talked about as much - yep, their pricing is ‘aggressive’ but there are many others nearly as much so that seem to still have a strong following on this board. Goes to show how difficult it is to be ‘relevant’ these days . . .


I wouldn’t assume that, just because there is less discussion about a particular winery here, they’re no longer, “…‘relevant’…” Note: I’ve had one and only one Kapcsandy in my life so far…2011 Estate Cuvee, so I’m not a Kapcsandy apologist or anything.

Thanks Brandon. I find it fun and interesting to explore most areas and types of wine and have been blessed to have some good tasting groups that do just that. It’s also my intent to see the good in life and that carries over to wine where I attempt to glean the better aspects of a wine, some times even when it is flawed, but that’s often a stretch.

Until you mentioned it, I did not know about the price point of this wine and often that is the case for many wines I’m tasting in the different groups I’m in. It certainly would be a consideration where I to opt to buy some which is one reason I even take notes= to make better informed decisions when buying.

I wish I had bought more Verite when they were somewhat reasonable; visited there in 2008 before the big price increases. Get this: Fleming’s is pouring Verite (not sure which version) this month for $100 a GLASS. Hope it’s good.

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Here’s another one I did not know was a pricy wine, but knowing the group I’m a part of, it makes sense. I don’t think I’d pay $100 for a glass regardless of how good it is.

The 2001 Verite could be had for less than $100 per bottle (I think it was $99 in Chicago, where I was at the time). Now it’s $375 and up. $100 per glass is actually a deal compared to retail, assuming that there are four pours to a bottle. It’s still a good wine, but I don’t know who would actually buy it at that price.