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Friday, December 01, 2006


From Robert M. Parker, Jr.'s The Wine Advocate Issue #168

2005 CABERNET SAUVIGNON HERB LAMB VYD.
NAPA(release date 11/08)RED(93-95)
2004 CABERNET SAUVIGNON HERB LAMB VYD.
NAPA(release date 11/07)RED95
2003 CABERNET SAUVIGNON HERB LAMB VYD.
NAPA$250RED94
2005 CABERNET SAUVIGNON TYCHSON HILL VYD.
NAPA(release date 11/08)RED(94-96)
2004 CABERNET SAUVIGNON TYCHSON HILL VYD.
NAPA(release date 11/07)RED98
2003 CABERNET SAUVIGNON TYCHSON HILL VYD.
NAPA($250)RED96
2005 CARIAD PROPRIETARY RED WINE
NAPA(release date 11/08)RED(95-97)
2004 CARIAD PROPRIETARY RED WINE
NAPA(release date 11/07)RED99
2003 CARIAD PROPRIETARY RED WINE
NAPA$250RED96
2005 IX PROPRIETARY RED ESTATE
NAPA(release date 4/08)RED(96-98+)
2004 IX PROPRIETARY RED ESTATE
NAPA(release date 4/07)RED98
2003 IX PROPRIETARY RED ESTATE
NAPA$200RED95
2005 IX SYRAH ESTATE
NAPA(release date 4/08)RED(90-92)
2004 IX SYRAH ESTATE
NAPA(release date 4/07)RED96
2003 IX SYRAH ESTATE
NAPA$150RED95

One of the World's finest wineries, Colgin is run with impeccable attention to detail by the passionate proprietors, Ann Colgin and her husband, Joe Wender. They are ably assisted by their winemaking team led by Mark Aubert and France's superb consultant Dr. Alain Raynaud. The twenty acres of estate vineyards are planted at elevations of 900 to 1,000 feet, overlooking Lake Hennessey. They also own a tiny gem of a vineyard situated across from Freemark Abbey on Route 29, just north of St. Helena. Colgin also contracts fruit from the Herb Lamb Vineyard and from David Abreu's Madrona Ranch and Thorevilos vineyards (which make up the backbone of the Cariad proprietary red wine). As one might expect, quality is world-class. These are all thrilling wines of great richness as well as aging potential.

I retasted the 2003s since they are now available in the marketplace, and they are among the finest wines of Napa for this very good vintage. The dense ruby/purple-tinged, elegant 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard (230 cases) reveals sweet notes of roasted herbs, white chocolate, and black currants, medium to full body, supple tannin, and a stunning, 40- to 45-second finish. Already approachable, this lovely Cabernet should evolve for 15 or more years. The small hillside vineyard across from Freemark Abbey called Tychson Hill is unquestionably a noble site, as evidenced by every wine that has been produced from this vineyard planted under the guidance of superstar viticulturist, David Abreu. Colgin's 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill possesses an exquisite perfume of acacia flowers, cedar, creme de cassis, licorice, and graphite. Its style suggests a hypothetical blend of a Pauillac and Margaux. With silky tannin as well as an enormously concentrated yet elegant, pure style, this sensational Cabernet can be drunk now, but will be even better with another 5-7 years of bottle age. It should last for 20-25 years. The proprietary blend from David Abreu's Thorevilos and Madrona Ranch vineyards, the 2003 Cariad (520 cases), is made from 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and the rest primarily Petit Verdot with a touch of Cabernet Franc. This harmonious offering reveals an inky/blue/purple color in addition to sumptuous aromas of new saddle leather, scorched earth, blackberries, cassis, smoke, licorice, and roasted meats. While it suggests a right bank Bordeaux (such as a top-notch St.-Emilion), it is clearly Californian in its ripeness, richness, and overall purity. This beauty can be enjoyed over the next 20-25 years. The 2003 IX Proprietary Red Wine, a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and a dollop of Petit Verdot, demonstrates how fabulous the fruit from the estate vineyard can be. Beautiful scents of crushed rocks, spring flowers, licorice, charcoal, blackberries, and cassis are stunningly pure and complex. This opulent, intense, well-balanced, compelling, full-bodied wine appears to have softened considerably over the last year. It can be drunk now or cellared for 20-25 years.

The impressive 2004s display the vintage's more opulent, up-front style. There are 188 cases of the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard. This inky/purple cuvee exhibits a scorched earth, flowery, blueberry, and blackberry-scented bouquet with hints of barbecue spices, pain grille', licorice, and espresso roast. Full-bodied, opulent, and dense, with considerable tannin lurking underneath all the extract and structure, it needs 2-3 years of cellaring and should age nicely for 20-25 years. Black truffles, asphalt, graphite, blueberries, and creme de cassis aromas soar from the glass of the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Vineyard (168 cases). A wine of extraordinary nobility, it possesses a steely, well-delineated mouthfeel, full body, and enormous wealth of richness and length. This profound Cabernet Sauvignon is a candidate for wine of the vintage, as is the 2004 Cariad Proprietary Red Wine. A 637-case blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, and 8% Cabernet Franc, it borders on perfection. An extraordinarily complex bouquet of creme de cassis, blackberries, roasted herbs, meat juices, flowers, and subtle oak is followed by a powerful, rich, pure wine with a finish that lasts nearly 60 seconds. The tannin is silky and the wine is seamlessly constructed. Its difficult to suggest an optimum window of drinkability since it is already showing well, but this extremely young Napa red should evolve for 15-20 years. The 2004 IX Proprietary Red Wine (1,258 cases from a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot) is amazing out of bottle. Flamboyant, super-fragrant aromas of graphite, creme de cassis, espresso roast, flowers, and the entire black and blue fruit spectrum jump from the glass of this gorgeous wine. In the mouth, silky tannin and a mufti-dimensional, skyscraper-like mouthfeel are offered without heaviness or coarseness. This totally profound wine exhibits what a great site, extraordinary winemaking, and a commitment to excellence can produce. It should drink well for two decades.

Colgin's 2005 are slightly less intense and flamboyant than the 2004s, and more Bordeaux-like than either the 2003s or 2004s. The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard's inky/blue/purple hue is followed by a big, sweet perfume of crushed rocks, dried herbs, black currants, and smoky oak interwoven with a hint of licorice. Terrific concentration, a floral component in the mouth, beautiful structure as well as definition, and noticeable, but ripe tannin suggest this offering is a candidate for 15-20 years of cellaring. Attractive creme de cassis fruit interwoven with cedar, smoke, and graphite characterize the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Vineyard. This pure, full-bodied, blockbuster effort displays super fruit intensity, purity, and overall balance. Give it 2-3 years of bottle age after it's released, and drink it over the following 20+ years. A blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Petit Verdot, the opaque purple-hued 2005 Cariad Proprietary Red Wine boasts a beautiful nose of acacia flowers, blueberries, licorice, graphite, and smoke. Pure, multilayered, and harmonious, this is another exceptional wine that should prove to be one of the finest 2005s produced. Again, two decades or more of aging potential is predicted. The fabulous 2005 IX Proprietary Red Estate (64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Petit Verdot) may turn out to be the wine of the vintage. Its extraordinary aromatics include floral, scorched earth, black and blue fruit, subtle oak, and spice box notes. A rich, full-bodied, layered mouthfeel, perfect harmony, and extraordinary length, complexity, and nobility characterize this amazing effort. Look for this wine to drink beautifully for 25 or more years.

Lastly, winemaker Mark Aubert also demonstrates a superb know-how with Syrah. These wines are macerated far 35-45 days, and given frequent pump-overs as well as punch-downs. They are aged in completely in French oak. Colgin's 2003 IX Syrah Estate (330 cases) has added considerable complexity and weight since I tasted it last year, becoming very Burgundian in its huge aromatics and opulent, full-bodied power. Aromas of road tar, ground pepper, espresso roast, blackberries, and an exotic floral character emerge from this beauty. Enjoy it over the next 7-8 years. The floral-filled 2004 IX Syrah Estate (486 cases) offers super-pure blue and blackberries intermixed with hints of new saddle leather and meat. High but sweet tannins, powerful flavors, and an overall sense of poise characterize this stunning effort. The outstanding 2005 IX Syrah Estate is currently the least exciting of this trio, but if it puts on weight and complexity as the 2003 and 2004 did, it will merit an even higher score. Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by primary notes of blackberries, crushed rocks, scorched earth, flowers, and spicy new oak. It does not appear to possess the weight or richness of its two predecessors, but given the evolution and natural handling of this wine, I would expect it to show even better next year.

 By Robert M. Parker, Jr.

Robert Parker Online