Following the departure of long-time winemaker Mark Aubert (he is now making wine for Bryant Family Vineyards in addition to his own label,) assistant winemaker Allison Tauziet is at the helm here, with ongoing consulting assistance from Chateau Quinault's (St. Emilion) Alain Raynaud. The team bottled the 2004s last March, a few months earlier than usual, due to the vintage's high alcohol and ripeness and because they felt the wines were absorbing a lot of oak. These wines are remarkably rich, with alcohol levels typically in the mid to high 15% range. The 2005 growing season here got off to an early start and then benefited from a cooler summer and longer hang time. According to Ann Colgin, the estate dropped a lot of crop in August- "more than most people did." On my most recent visit, I was especially struck by the two Herb Lamb Vineyard bottlings, which showed more consistent ripeness than in some previous vintages. In fact, this is probably no coincidence, as vineyard management guru David Abreu got involved with this property in July of 2004 and immediately made the decision to open up the canopy and get better sun exposure in this north-facing vineyard.
2004 Colgin Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard Napa Valley
($250; from vines planted in 1988) Ruby-red. Highly aromatic nose offers black raspberry, black cherry, minerals and gravel. Dense, lush and sweet, with spicy black raspberry, dark chocolate, violet and licorice flavors complemented by oak. This is wonderfully rich (15.5% alcohol) but retains plenty of energy. Finishes very long, with firm but ripe tannins. Impressive.
2004 Colgin Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Vineyard Napa Valley
($250) Medium ruby-red. High-toned aromas of mocha, meat and dried fruits, with whiffs of tar and beefsteak tomato. Sweet verging on confectionery and conveying less energy today than the Herb Lamb. Impressively concentrated, thick, creamy wine- "like an elixir," notes winemaker Allison Tauziet. The crop level of less than two tons per acre was the lowest ever here, due in part to dehydration of the grapes. This bottle did not show quite the verve I found in the 2003 release. Finishes with building tannins.
2004 Colgin Cellars Cariad Red Wine Napa Valley
($250; a blend of 54% cabernet sauvignon, 28% merlot, 10% petit verdot and 8% cabernet franc) Saturated, dense ruby. Aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, licorice and sexy oak. Round, fleshy and sweet; begins almost monolithic but the wine's superb stuffing shows a bit more definition and chewiness as it opens in the glass. Really saturates the entire palate. This has the richness to support its huge but thoroughly ripe tannins. Very nicely balanced for a wine of this sheer size.
2004 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Red Wine Napa Valley
($250; 59% cabernet sauvignon, 22% merlot, 13% cabernet franc and 6% petit verdot) Opaque ruby. Flamboyant aromas of black fruits, licorice, smoke, crushed stone, black tea, lavender and wild sage. Sweet, lush and densely packed, with the wild character following through in the mouth. This comes across as a bit less oaky than the estate's other cabernet-based wines, which are aged entirely in Taransaud barrels (this one is about three-quarters Taransaud.) The higher percentage of franc here adds freshness, as well as notes of black tea and rustic herbs. Energetic and firmly built, but quite backward in the context of the vintage. Still, there's terrific fruit here; in comparison, the Cariad seems less sweet today.
2005 Colgin Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard Napa Valley
Good bright ruby. Complex, scented nose combines blackcurrant, blueberry, violet, licorice, graphite and minerals. Suave and fine-grained if youthfully backward, with lovely inner-mouth energy and floral character. Very densely packed wine with a long, violety aftertaste. From the smallest crop to date at this vineyard.
2005 Colgin Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Vineyard Napa Valley
Good full ruby. Spicy black fruits dominate the nose. Quite wild on the palate, with notes of black fruits, graphite, smoke and barbecue spices. A supple, sweet, oaky, highly concentrated wine that conveys a sense of brooding power. But a bit youthfully unformed and inexpressive today and not yet showing the energy of definition of the Herb Lamb example.
2005 Colgin Cellars Cariad Red Wine Napa Valley
(54% cabernet sauvignon, 26% merlot, 11% cabernet franc and 9% petit verdot; from Madrona Ranch except for the petit verdot component, which comes from Thorevilos Vineyard on the eastern slopes of the valley.) Bright medium ruby. Very ripe aromas of black raspberry and spicy, chocolaty oak. Sweet, lush, seamless and suave; comes across as less dense but distinctly more primary than the 2004. Noble, slow-building tannins are accompanied by enticing minerality on the back.
2005 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Red Wine Napa Valley
(64% cabernet sauvignon, 21% merlot, 10% cabernet franc and 5% petit verdot)
Good medium ruby. Brooding, Medoc-like aromas of black raspberry, licorice, menthol and dark chocolate. Dense and impressively deep, with dark fruit and dark chocolate flavors lifted by a pronounced minerality. The tannins are broad and substantial but quite fine-grained, and the wine's juicy character and minerality give it terrific grip and persistence. Today this seems sweeter in style than the Cariad, while conveying a lower pH feel than the wine (but it's still a high 3.95).
2004 Colgin Cellars Syrah IX Estate Napa Valley
($150) Medium ruby. Knockout pure aromas of blackberry, blueberry, licorice and white pepper. Densely packed, highly concentrated and intense, with saline and meaty nuances adding complexity to the wild dark berry and violet flavors. This wonderfully sweet and thoroughly ripe wine should develop more nuance with a few years of bottle aging. These syrah vines planted around the winery overlooking Lake Hennessy include three clones from Cote-Rotie and one from Hermitage.
2005 Colgin Cellars Syrah IX Estate Napa Valley
Good deep ruby. Reticent, wild aromas of black fruits and licorice, with a distinct element of torrefaction. Densely packed and primary, with sharply delineated flavors of blackberry, violet and licorice. A bit less lush than the 2004 but with noteworthy energy and persistence. This wine is aged in all new Burgundy barrels, mostly Francois Freres, Remond and Damy.