Like Fred, I was lucky enough to try the 2014 Carter lineup. Below are some TNs:
Saturday, June 4, 2016, 10AM. This was an impromptu tasting with Mark Carter and his full 2014 Cabernet lineup. Many thanks to Mark and Dan at Carter Cellars who were gracious enough to let me swing by Envy this morning and give me a crack at these amazing wines. And of course, hats off to Mike Smith yet again for crafting some excellent juice!
The wines had just been bottled 12 days ago, but they still showed beautifully given their vibrant youth. All wines were served via Coravin Across the board, the 2014s spit out amazing, vivacious fruit, more so than I can recall from the 2012s and 2013s at the same age. Mark commented that the 2014s were indeed a bit lusher and fruiter than previous vintages. They certainly had a swanky, near-term appeal that I was immediately drawn to, but ideally should not be consumed for at least another year or two at the earliest (2018 is probably about right for true consumption – especially for the big BTK boys). The 2014s may even end up equally as intense as the 2013s, but time will ultimately tell.
For me, the picks of the litter were without question the OG and the Las Piedras, with the Three Kings just a tick behind. But really it is splitting hairs at this level. All are top quality wines and will easily rival the best of the best in the Valley.
2014 Carter Hossfeld Coliseum Red Blend
Certainly the fruitiest of the bunch, and unquestionably a Merlot-driven animal. Red and black cherry, cherry liqueur, cacao nibs, alcohol, and a tinge of alkaline. Understandably, this little guy has some sorting out to do; with its high register berry flavors and repeated puffs of chalky alcohol, it presented a little thin mid-palate, but finished strong with the fruity red berries repeating. This was indeed the “fruitiest” of the bunch, and will probably start really kicking in to gear earlier than later. Try again in 2017. 80/20 Merlot/Cabernet. 90-91 points.
2014 Carter Coliseum Block Cabernet Sauvignon
The reverse of the Hossfeld, with approximately 80/20 Cabernet/Merlot. This wine showed the fruitiness of the Merlot, but kicked in with a nice spine that added some tannic structure, pleasantly framing the wild red and purple berry fruit notes. There was a perfect hit of chocolate, vanilla, and cedar that washed over the mid-palate, adding some depth and weaving its way nicely through the feral fruit and tannins. The finish was aptly a little chalky and clipped, but did not distract in the slightest from the flavors gliding across the palate. I would give this a solid year before trying again. 93+ points.
2014 Carter Fortuna Cabernet Sauvignon
A wine that I absolutely fell in love with in the 2013 vintage has again showed immense promise in 2014. A bit more blue and purple berry fruits than the Coliseum Block Cabernet, with the wild red berry flavors streaking out here and there along the palate. Sweet and fairly accessible; certainly less acidic than the 2013 Fortuna was at a similar age. There is an inclusion of Petit Verdot here, which seems to account for the bluer fruit, with additional notes of pencil shavings and pen ink. This will need some time to sort out the mass of flavors swirling around; give it a couple of years to fully integrate, especially given the inclusion of the PV. The purity of fruit here was notable. Worth mentioning the C-Note QPR in comparison to its bigger brothers; drinks way above its price-point. 93+ points.
2014 Carter Weitz Cabernet Sauvignon
Here is where we really started to ratchet up the intensity and complexity. This felt like a huge jump in flavors compared to the Coliseum and Fortuna. The 2014 Weitz displayed wonderful purple, blue, and red berry fruits, red and black licorice (which was a flavor I was secretly looking for in the previous wines tasted, but was not able to find), some chocolate, and a pumice/stone note. Strikingly finessed and beautiful, with a wonderful mid-palate that was a little sweet but not the least bit cloying. A rush of tannins and some stone carried through the back end. This wine will indeed give the 2013 Weitz a run for its money. Try again in a year for fun, or hold well past 2018 to let it integrate even more. A lot going on here; just needs some time. 94-95+ points.
2014 Carter Las Piedras Cabernet Sauvignon
Holy Mary Mother of God. If you’ve loved previous LPVs from Carter, you’re gonna freak out over this wine. If this shakes out right, I can see this wine following its 2013 older brother and becoming another three-digit scorer after a few years in bottle. Seems to have the stuffing to kick out the full spectrum of purple, blue, black, and red berry fruit notes, blueberry and black raspberry liqueur, awesome river rock/minerality, and hints of red licorice. A phenomenal example of purity of fruit and sweet tannic structure. Full-bodied all the way around. Regardless of any score, this wine is a force to be reckoned with; one of the best LPVs I’ve had from any producer. Though I know I should wait for a few years, it will be hard not to play around with this wine every few months just to see what it’s doing. 97-98++ points.
2014 Carter Three Kings Cabernet Sauvignon
Phenomenal fruit, with flashy red and purple berry notes, vanilla bean, chocolate, and pencil lead. Where this wine really shows you its presence is in its depth and mid-palate. Huge sexy “oomph” on this wine, with a disco ball-like cataclysm of flavors and intensity. Rich, concentrated, and a great push of wild berry notes. The most savory in the whole lineup. Less minerality at present; this wine, as it has been in the past, will likely be the most ostentatious in the group…like drinking a glass of Pamela Anderson (but without the whole STD thing). 97+ points.
2014 Carter The Grand Daddy Cabernet Sauvignon
Of the BTKs, this was the most reserved at the moment. Sweet and concentrated, with notes of red and purple berry fruits, vanilla, and alcohol. The quality of fruit is again evident, as in the tannin management. Some spices emerged as well, adding additional interest. Texturally a beautifully finessed wine, with a kiss of dark chocolate and vanilla on the finish. The Grand Daddy was holding its cards a little close to the vest at this point, so I’m interested to see how this fans out. This was the sweetest in the lineup…more Laura Ingalls and less Sofia Vergara. 94+ points.
2014 Carter OG Cabernet Sauvignon
The absolute best of the bunch for me. I had absolutely no problem picking the OG as my favorite in the lineup as soon as I took a sip of this bad boy. That clone 337 just reaches out and slaps you in the face with its awesome power and intensity. Dense and immense, while still holding a notable amount of vivaciousness and energy, the OG is dark, rich, and brooding, while simultaneously exuberant and vigorous. This had the darkest fruit profile of the bunch (which I am admittedly more drawn to), with additional notes of quality dark chocolate, vanilla bean, blueberry and blackberry liqueur, asphalt, and wet slate. As complex as a 2014 bottled less than 2 weeks ago can come. This is an exciting wine that will likely be the star of the 2014 vintage. A three-digit score yet again on this wine would not be out of the question at all. Phenomenal! 98-99+ points for now.
*Tasting Notes also posted on Cellar Tracker.
Thanks to Mark, Dan, and Mike! Awesome wines!