Colgin Cellars - Press - California Dreamin' — Déjà Vu

California Dreamin' — Déjà Vu

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Tuesday, December 23, 2003


A Comprehensive look at the finest new and upcoming releases.

2002 CABERNET SAUVIGNON HERB LAMB VINEYARD
NAPA(release date 11/05)RED(93-95+)
2001 CABERNET SAUVIGNON HERB LAMB VINEYARD
NAPA(release date 11/04)RED95+
2000 CABERNET SAUVIGNON HERB LAMB VINEYARD
NAPA($165.00)RED91
2002 CABERNET SAUVIGNON TYCHSON HILL VINEYARD
NAPA(release date 11/05)RED(96-100)
2001 CABERNET SAUVIGNON TYCHSON HILL VINEYARD
NAPA(release date 11/04)RED96+
2000 CABERNET SAUVIGNON TYCHSON HILL VINEYARD
NAPA($175.00)RED92
2002 CARIAD PROPRIETARY RED WINE
NAPA(release date 11/05)RED(96-100)
2001 CARIAD PROPRIETARY RED WINE
NAPA(release date 11/04)RED98
2000 CARIAD PROPRIETARY RED WINE
NAPA($165.00)RED94
2002 IX PROPRIETARY RED ESTATE
NAPA(not yet released)RED(90-93)
2002 IX SYRAH ESTATE
NAPA(not yet released)RED(94-96)

Ann Colgin and her husband, Joe Wender, have finally gotten their steep hillside vineyard above Lake Hennessey (at elevations of 900 to 1300 feet) in production and the winery constructed. An extraordinary site, it is one of the most beautifully laid out vineyards I have ever seen, anywhere. The winery is also very functional, with the winemaking team of Mark Aubert and Dr. Alain Raynaud of St. Emilion's Château Quinault a formidable duo. Colgin's wines surged to the forefront among connoisseurs largely because of the exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon Helen Turley produced for Ann Colgin from the Herb Lamb Vineyard. Those early offerings, which are aging beautifully, have undoubtedly been equaled, and probably surpassed by the work of Aubert and Raynaud. The introduction of their new Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Vineyard (directly across Route 29 from Freemark Abbey), and the promise of the new estate, should have even the most jaded connoisseur energized with excitement. As the following tasting notes evidence, excitement reigns supreme at Colgin as even a magnificent Syrah has been produced from 3 year old vines.

There are 350 cases of the 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard, which is performing better out of bottle than it did from cask. It reveals a singular, exotic bouquet of flowers (geraniums?) and a minty undertone intermixed with copious quantities of blueberries, cassis, and tar. Dense, rich, and fullbodied, it is a strong effort that should drink well for 10-12 years. More classic as well as a pure expression of Cabernet Sauvignon's crème de cassis, tobacco, cedary character is the 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Vineyard. Expressive, rich, medium to fullbodied flavors, terrific ripeness, and surprising tannin and persistence are found in this pure 2000. Drink it over the next 12-15 years. My favorite 2000 is the proprietary red, the 2000 Cariad, a 650 case blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. This is Colgin's California version of St. Emilion. All the fruit comes from David Abreu's Madrona Ranch except for the Petit Verdot, which comes from Thorevilos. The dense ruby/purple-colored 2000 Cariad offers up a flamboyant nose of creosote, tobacco leaf, roasted coffee, chocolate, smoke, and earthy black currant as well as blackberry fruit. With great complexity, a firm, structured, tannic underpinning, medium to full body, and dazzling purity, this terrific 2000 is unquestionably one of the wines of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: now-2016.

The 2001s were bottled shortly before my visit after spending 20 months in 100% new Taransaud oak casks. There are 360 cases of the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard. Slightly less exotic chocolatey, blackberry, blueberry, herbal tea, and floral notes are apparent in this densely saturated purple-colored 2001. Thick, juicy, succulent, black crème de cassis and licorice-infused flavors proliferate. Sweet tannin, a beautiful texture, and superb purity as well as delineation suggest this stunning Cabernet may be the best Herb Lamb since the 1997. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2018. The 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Vineyard's tiny production of 190 cases will not be enough for Cabernet lovers. It boasts an inky/purple color, thrilling concentration, and gorgeously pure aromas of blackberry, crème de cassis, pain grille, white chocolate, and vanilla ice cream. Incredibly long, pure, and dense, but tightlywound, this is a wine of enormous constitution and wonderfully sweet integrated tannin, yet I got the sense that it was only revealing part of its personality. It needs 7-8 years of bottle age, and should last for 30 years. It is a brilliant effort! Virtually perfect, the 2001 Cariad (420 cases) is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Petit Verdot. Mark Aubert told me there was an extended maceration of nearly 50 days because the tannin got sweeter and sweeter with each additional day after three weeks. This seamless offering possesses a saturated ruby/purple color as well as a smorgasbord of aromas, including Valrhona chocolate, cigar tobacco, blackberries, black currants, licorice, incense, and espresso. Sweet on the entry, with a voluptuous midpalate, and a spectacular finish with the tannin hardly noticeable, this is a proprietary red of extraordinary quality and singularity. As it sat in the glass, additional nuances continued to develop, and the wine seemed to swell and become even richer with each sip. I'm not sure it doesn't deserve a three digit score. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2028.

There is no drop off in quality in 2002 where extended macerations of 50-55 days were the rule. The 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard boasts a blue/black/purple color to the rim as well as a gorgeous perfume of charcoal smoke intermixed with espresso roast, chocolate, blackberries, creosote, and cassis. Fullbodied, with great intensity, it is not yet revealing that exotic, sometimes eccentric floral component, but I'm sure that will emerge with further barrel aging. This looks to be a thick, juicy, succulent effort. It may not possess the huge upside of the 2001, but it is very rich and heady. Another prodigious offering is the black-colored 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Vineyard. This seamless Cabernet reveals great delineation, huge flavor intensity, and even more crème de cassis fruit and spice box notes than the 2001. Fullbodied and utterly profound, it is a wine of enormous sophistication, richness, and complexity, but it requires 7-8 years of cellaring, and should keep for three decades. I was again blown away by the 2002 Cariad (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc). Aromas of Asian spices, soy, black cherries, crème de cassis, roasted coffee, new saddle leather, and game emerge from this black beauty. Again, seamlessness, exquisite balance, a taste of balsamic vinegar in the deep, concentrated black fruit flavors, and a monumental finish that lasts nearly 70 seconds are found in this incredible effort. It may be slightly more evolved and forward than the 2001, but will last just as long ... 2-3 decades.

The first wine produced from the steep hillsides above the winery is the 2002 IX Proprietary Red (175 cases). My preliminary look at the proposed blend of 70% Cabernet SAUVIGNON, 14% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot revealed intense aromatics, but not the texture or richness of the Cabernet Sauvignon cuvées. It's still early in the game, but this 2002 certainly displayed outstanding potential. Even more impressive was the 175 case cuvée of 2002 IX Syrah. This remarkable offering, made from 100% destemmed fruit, is a blackberry, cassis, smoky, earthy concoction of superripe fruit, a seductive, opulent, voluptuous texture, and a well-concealed 16% alcohol! This appears to be a great site for this varietal, and should add handsomely to what is already a brilliant portfolio of wines from one of the most conscientious, perfectionist proprietors in California. Tel. (707) 963-0999; Fax (707) 963-0996

 By Robert M. Parker, Jr.