Our tasting group met a my house last night. The theme was California and Washington Bordeaux blends (all served blind), but one can always expect ringers and surprises. These included the best wine I’ve ever had from British Columbia, as well as an old Ridge Monte Bello that will take its place amongst the most memorable bottles of my life; strong sentiments for someone who gravitates towards European wine and especially Champagne.
2021 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley (11/19/2022)
Obvious sauvignon blanc in the blend, with prominent cat pee, gooseberries and cut grass. I thought bordeaux blend, and there was a semillon lushness. I will in the minority who were indifferent to this wine. For me, it was a bit loud and boisterous.
1984 Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon David Lake Signature Series Red Willow Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley (11/19/2022)
Erik’s bottle. 30 minute decant. I liked this. Elegant. Nice balance. Equal parts cassis and earthy secondary aromas. Very fine tannins. Most tasters guessed 10+ years younger, as did I. A glass set aside for hours didn’t hold up, but it was still impressive early.
1976 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello - USA, California, Santa Cruz Mountains (11/19/2022)
My bottle. Served blind to the rest of the tasting group. Andouzed for 8 hours, no decant. Gorgeous on the nose and on the palate. Black cherries, cassis, cinnamon, truffles and more. Eternal finish. A few sips left in the glass for four hours were even better. It developed a beautiful minty note with air. No only didn’t it decline, it improved. It could have used a decant, but was outstanding without it.
Ready the other notes on CT illustrated the view that there are no great wines, only great bottles. This was a magnificent bottle, and it takes its place amongst my most memorable wines.
2011 Spring Valley Vineyard Frederick - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley (11/19/2022)
Confected berry nose. Almost delicate. Clearly a cool vintage.
2006 Couvillion Cabernet Sauvignon Sagemoor Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley (11/19/2022)
Raspberry, dark chocolate and licorice aromas. Smelled sweeter than it was on the palate.
2011 Rasa Vineyards In Order to Form a More Perfect Union - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley (11/19/2022)
Candied nose, with kirsch, red berries. Moderately tannic, with some green stemmy components. A nice wine; others liked it more than me. Quite a contrast to the warmer vintage 2013 opened later. I would never have associated the two. Sorry for the blurry photograph
2013 Rasa Vineyards In Order to Form a More Perfect Union - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley (11/19/2022)
Followed the 2013 of the same, brought by different people. Very different from its younger cooler vintage sibling. Darker berries. Not much in my tasting note other “than different from the '11”, and “nice enough wine amongst tough competition”
NV Soter 1977 - 2007 Proprietary Red - USA, California, Napa Valley (11/19/2022)
Very complex; full bodied. Definitely some Cab Franc showing in this blend. Dark fruited, with unusual but not unappealing cruciferous, mushroom and bell pepper notes. Upon reveal, I thought “who does MV blends in California?”
2014 Seven Stones Winery Bromley Rock Boulder - Canada, British Columbia, Similkameen Valley (11/19/2022)
Delicate and fine. Fruit forward. Some eucalyptus.
2020 Involuntary Commitment - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley (11/19/2022)
Pretty confected aromas and flavors. It reminded me of the French black and red raspberry gumdrop candies.
2012 Enfield Wine Co. Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Sonoma County, Fort Ross - Seaview (11/19/2022)
Red fruited, some tobacco. Old school; my scribble note says “not screaming for attention”. Tasted low alcohol, nice balance of fruit and acids. Ethereal; soft red berries; lingonberry? I really liked this, and it was well received by the group.
2015 Caprio Cellars Eleanor - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley (11/19/2022)
Jenise’s and Bob’s bottle. Dark fruited. Spice, vanilla, long finish. Very nice. I think I guessed Napa. On the reveal, no one had heard of the winery.
2019 Result of a Crush The Unnamed Series Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley (11/19/2022)
Doran’s and Julie’s bottle. Very different than the other dozen+ Bdx blend bottles last night. I found it very Syrah-like, which made sense after learning who makes this wine. Smoking rubber, I initially felt it was reduced. Syrah-like funk, but nice. I think we caught this bottle at an odd stage, and suspect the reductive type of aromas will be transient.
2014 Dehlinger Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Bottled - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (11/19/2022)
Erik’s bottle. A bigger wine than is typically my preference, but I liked it (a common theme tonight, appreciating bottles outside my normal program). Dark berries, chocolate, cassis, bell pepper.
2013 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Santa Cruz Mountains (11/19/2022)
Dorin’s and Julie’s bottle. Dusty fruit, good cut and very mineraled. Still, not a star of the night. Upon reveal, I was surprised as I’ve always liked Mt Eden’s Cabs. I suspect we caught this at an awkward, sullen, adolescent phase. Had I more of these, I’d sit on them a while.
2014 Materra Cunat Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oak Knoll District (11/19/2022)
Dark in appearance, aromas and flavors. Structured, balanced, tannic, with nice subtlety and nuance. Surprised upon the reveal. Another unknown wine to me, and the antithesis of a jammy Merlot blend. Well done.
2010 Fall Line Winery Red Wine Artz Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain (11/20/2022)
Dark fruit, subtle spice. Upon reveal, I thought “I like the name better than the wine, being a skiier”. Decent wine served amongst tough competition.
2012 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (11/19/2022)
Jenice and Bob’s bottle. A big one. I guessed regal, old school Napa Cab. Dark berries, cassis, tobacco, savory spices. Upon reveal, I was thinking it’s probably a mistake to open these within 10-20 years of the vintage. More future promise than present day delight.
2008 Black Hills Estate Nota Bene - Canada, British Columbia, Okanagan Valley, Okanagan Valley VQA (11/19/2022)
Jenise and Bob’s bottle. Very nice. Christmas character. Orange, cinnamon, clove, hibiscus. I was surprised at the reveal; I didn’t know BC was capable of producing wines of this caliber.
2006 Montes: Napa Angel Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley (11/19/2022)
Another wine that suffered from the stiff competition, and perhaps from palate fatigue, being a latecomer to the tasting. I felt it was better on the palate than on the nose. The second wine of the tasting that had a cabbage-like or cruciferous vegetal aroma. Also, coffee, red fruit. A bit of alcohol although not inordinate.
2016 Vine Hill Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon VHR - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville (11/19/2022)
Served blind to others; my bottle. Classic, well made young cab. Dark in color, flavor and character. Cassis, cigar box, caramel, graphite. A clay-like minerality. It was disappointing upon opening, but improved with 8 hours in the decanter. It could have used twice that or more, as it improved in a glass set aside for hours after the decant. Perhaps I’d have liked a little more acidity, but there was no denying its nobility. I have a little left in the bottle, and may visit again tomorrow.