Big Napa Tasting - THE RESULTS ARE IN

Dinner with a few wine loving friends this Saturday.

2006 Domain Carneros “La Reve” Blanc des Blanc

2002 Peter Michael ‘Belle Côte’ Chardonnay
2008 Aubert Chardonnay “Ritchie Vineyard”

Main Event:
2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia
2005 Hundred Acre Kayli Morgan
2007 Continuum
2005 Larkmead Solari Reserve

Thoughts on how things will shake out? I’m bringing, have never had, and am afraid of the Hundred Acre. 15.5 is not typically my style, and I’m curious to see how it shows next to the Insignia, which is wonderfully balanced and structured to last 40 years.

I’ll be very interested to see if the Peter Michael is still alive.

If done blind I’ll take the Larkmead as wotn

Looking forward to seeing your results!

The Peter Michael should be alive, we still drink their whites from the '90’s and they have held up. I predict pleasure.

My own theory on the Hundred Acre Kayli is that it has hidden residual sugar and might not have held up. I will be happy to be proven wring when you try it!

The Phelps should be tasting almost ‘new.’

I will be interested in seeing how complex you think the Continuum is.

Please let us know your impressions!!!

Cheers! [cheers.gif]

Agree on the idea that the HA won’t hold its own. I had a 2005 Kayli last summer and was underwhelmed. It lacked depth compared to what I’ve expeienced when tasted closer to bottling. I bet the Aubert is very, very good and vote the larkmead as well.

Continuum or Insignia is my bet. I will fade the Larkmead.

Don’t think the Solari will hold. Recent 07 and 05’s were not as good as they were a few years ago.

Well stored Insignia I think would be tops. I love that wine.

The Insignia should be the Wine Of That Group (WOTG)

I’m calling an underachieving result on the Cabs:

Larkmead too closed
Continuum too young
Phelps too meh
Hundred Acre too bleh

Agree w/Mike that the Insignia should win.

Assuming you meant dinner this past Saturday…if so, what were the results. The suspense is killing me.

I’m curious, too. I’m also curious about the palates at the tasting. Do they also bemoan higher alcohol cabs, or do they like the big fruit, big alcohol wines? I’m going to be that the Hundred Acre wins.


Bit of a change up on some of these wines. Instead of the Aubert we went with a 1995 Peter Michael Mon Plaiser which was, unfortunately, very dead, terribly oxidized, and got cooked somewhere along the way. Oh, and we added some wines. These were not blind, and as always in such circumstances, that may affect notes.

2006 Domaine Carneros ‘La Reve’ This blanc de blanc is always rich and in your face and this did not disappoint. Lovely yeasty baked apple, graham cracker, creme brulee, and lemon curd. Maybe a little fig tart. Lovely and vibrant, and a great wine to start with charcuterie. 93

2002 Peter Michael ‘Belle Cote’ Chardonnay - A lovely if somewhat faded wine. The nose is dominated by tropical fruits with an undercurrent of pear and honeysuckle. Unfortunately, neither the fruit or the nose is particularly explosive. The hint of oak that floats along this wine goes fine with the pineapple and pear. I’m sure this wine was more exciting young with all that big fruit, but with time it has faded, and nothing new has shown up to make this more interesting. 91

1995 Peter Michael ‘Mon Plaisir’ - Obviously flawed.

2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia - A tremendous wine. I’ve had this wine a half dozen times now. I first had it 2007 and it was young and muscular and tannic. It has since mellowed out considerably, but is also obviously built to last. It has beautiful notes of pencil shavings, sage, blackberry, black cherry and a faint vanilla or honeysuckle undercurrent. This is a well integrated, long living, beautiful wine. The progression I’ve been able to experience with this wine leads me to believe it will continue to sing for another 10-15 years with no drop off. Perhaps not perfection because I think it could be a little more explosive, but it’s certainly a glorious example of what Napa has (and had) to offer. 98

2005 Hundred Acre ‘Kayli Morgan Vineyard’ Wow. This has a massive and explosively aromatic nose. Black currant, mint, blackberry, licorice, a floral or lavender note, and a spine of creamy oak. You can’t help but say “big” when smelling and tasting this wine. It is dense, very rich on the palate, where a little more rich, sweet cherry rolls in with the intense dark black fruit and sweet floral notes roll on. But it is also noticeably hotter than the other wines, and with a thicker mouthfeel, albeit supported by an effort at acidity. All in all, it is a titanic cabernet sauvignon that is still very youthful and retained nice freshness. It is not falling apart even a touch. It is simply a style of wine that I do not typically prefer. I thought it was also much better alone than with food. The food tended to highlight the alcohol more than the flattering fruity richness. 95

2007 Continuum I’ve had this wine a few times, but not in 5 years or so. What I found really fun about this tasting is that the Continuum and the Hundred Acre are not really that far off in overall ABV at 15.3 to 15.5 listed (which is, of course, not necessarily indicative of actual abv). They are, however, very different in blend and style. The cab franc and petite verdot jammed into to continuum add a slight edge of brightness to the flavor profile, whereas the Hundred Acre is black and brooding. The black fruits are balanced with bright cherry, a faint hint of bell pepper, lovely oak, and spicy finish. I found it quite complex, and better balanced, with a nice cut of acidity to fill out the well integrated albeit flush style. It is big without coming across as a big bruiser. Not as complex as the Phelps, but quite fun and lovely. 96

2009 Dunn Howell Mountain Overt plum and blueberry notes dominate the palate, along with cedar, oak, and a crushed rock/mineral note. The palate is brightened by a hard vein of acidity, and bolstered by a tannic backbone that suggests a long life. The issue with this wine is that it seems disjointed to me. I do not feel like the acid and tannin are integrated well. The acid pumps up the feeling of a lighter fruit profile that is not there. The rich plum and blueberry notes seem almost incongruous with the acid level. Perhaps this wine just suffers from comparisons to wines that are a little older. It’s just not on par for me. 92

To be fair, I often have that take from Dunn wines, and wonder if my past experiences cause me to go looking for issues with Dunn wines. I’ve had dozens of Dunns, Howell and Napa and most vintages from the very early 90s forward, and I have not been particularly blown away by many of them. There is something about the style that just doesn’t fall into my wheelhouse. So keep that in context as you read the note. Perhaps I’m more critical of the Dunn than others, but I will say that through those 4 cabs, the Dunn was in 4th place for almost every participant. The Phelps was in 1st by a good margin. As a thanks to the guest that brought the wine, our host popped a 97 Insignia. Then my 05 Larkmead.

1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia A very lovely wine in a very fun spot right now. This is not holding on as well as the 2002. With that said, this is classic Napa, with pencil shavings, spice, black cherry, sweet plum, and maybe the faintest hint of rosemary or mint. It is the lovely black cherry and sweet spice and oak that carry the wine at this point, though. Well balanced, soft, and a pure joy to drink. The 2002 is, in my opinion, the “better” wine. I think it will be in a better place in 5 years than this is now. More vibrant. But this is lovely. It’s soft edges, creamy, and a delight. 96

2005 Larkmead Solari Reserve Rich currant notes with a hint of vanilla and licorice, backed up with a hint of fig. This is an opulent and slightly softer style cab, but very lovely. It’s mostly about the fruit here, which is dark and delicious. Not quite as bright or structured as others, but it’s certainly still young, fresh enough, and delicious. Slightly less complex than I hoped, but a nicer profile than the 2003 I had a couple of weeks ago. A delight, but not a world beater. 94

What amazing fun, and my friend Louis, who is a lurker, is a tremendous and generous host surpassed in kindness only by his wife, Julie, who is an amazing woman.

The palates are all over the place. My wife probably drinks more Cali and Oregon than French, but likes French, Spanish, and Italian wines. She likes classic bordeaux and burgundy, but will also drink nice big cabs (though she prefers a little age on them). I drink everything, though I disdain brett in most cases, and struggle with both massive, glycerined up wines and wines with super high acid that I think go too far in the other direction.

Vince and his wife drink mostly California wines.

Louis and his wife drink mostly California, but he’s getting rather into Bordeaux and white burgundy

Courtney is a somm at Grailey’s and so probably drinks more French than anything, but a good dose of Cali, Italy, and even some Spanish wines.

Blake is an aspiring somm in training and probably drinks more Cali right now but is experiencing everything with a seemingly open mind.

So all over the place. Results seem to be that the 2002 Insignia was clear WOTN. I’m not sure where everyone had theirs ranked.