Colgin Cellars - Press - Focus on California, Issue 102

Focus on California, Issue 102

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Saturday, June 01, 2002

Stephen Tanzer's Tasting Notes for May/June 2002

Colgin Cellars

My early look at the young 2001s of Colgin Cellars gave clear evidence that this vintage holds out great potential for North Coast red wine from Bordeaux varieties. Winemaker Mark Aubert describes 2001 as "one of the most concentrated vintages I've ever worked with. A cool August was followed by a slow warm-up from the beginning of September and then alternating cool and warm spells without extreme heat." The crop level was low and the tannins were sweet, said Aubert, who did extended macerations lasting as long as 50 days. But the '99s and 'OOs are strong years here too: among the wines I tasted in late winter were the first vintage of Aim Colgin's new Tychson Hill cabernet (from an east-facing hillside vineyard above St. Helena) and the inaugural release of her Cariad red wine, a Bordeaux blend from low-yielding vines on the hillier upper portion of Madrona Ranch, owned by David Abreu.

2001 Cariad Red Wine Napa Valley
Merlot component: Full ruby-purple. Blackberry, black cherry, bitter chocolate and shoe polish on the nose. Superconcentrated and sweet at the core, with an unusually firm spine for merlot. Captivating chocolate and spice cake flavors. Cabernet sauvignon: Full deep ruby. Nose dominated by cassis. Compelling sweetness and fruit concentration on the palate. Finishes with lush, building tannins. The blend, which will include some cabernet franc and petit verdot, should be a knockout. 93-96.

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Napa Valley
Dark, bright ruby. Aromas of cassis, violet, shoe polish and charred oak. Penetrating flavor of fresh berries. Wonderfully creamy in the mouth, with a rather high-pH texture. But this has loads of personality and plenty of tannic structure. Finishes very long, with the fine tannins coating the sides of the mouth. 94-97.

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard Napa Valley
Very dark ruby, not quite as bright as the Tychson Hill. Wilder aromas of black raspberry, black cherry, roasted game and dark chocolate. Sweet, lush and seamless but with solid underlying spine. Extremely backward wine but harmonious from the outset. All these 2001s are carrying about 15% alcohol, but have more than enough buffering extract. This remained on its skins for 54 days. Aubert and Colgin seem to marginally prefer the Tychson cuvée, but I love the balance of this one today. 94-97. QQ Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Napa Valley Medium-deep ruby. Cassis, crystallized blackberry, violet, minerals, espresso and mint on the nose. Very intensely flavored and vibrant, with strong cassis and black cherry fruitiness. Not as lush or complex as the young 2001, though, and here the tannins are more apparent on the back end. 90-93.

2000 Cariad Red Wine Napa Valley
Full medium ruby. Captivating aromas of boysenberry pie, toasty oak and forest floor. Sweeter than the Tychson today, with almost medicinal black cherry flavor and impressive definition. Very good ripe acidity and solid tannins give this excellent structure for a 2000. Finishes very long, with a burst of dark berries. 91-94.

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard Napa Valley
Medium ruby. Highly aromatic nose of cassis, blueberry, lead pencil, tobacco and mint. Very ripe and rich, but also more suave than the Cariad and showing more personality today. This is chewy with extract. Long, slow-building finish features very ripe, fine tannins. 92-94.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard Napa Valley
Full ruby. Flamboyant, pungent, sweetly oaky aromas of kirsch, dark berries, flowers and black pepper. Lush, dense and very concentrated; like a top Bordeaux from a very ripe year, this will depend more on its huge tannins than on its rather low acidity for longevity. The tannins spread out to saturate the entire palate. 93+.

1999 Cariad Red Wine Napa Valley
Medium ruby. Superripe aromas of roasted currant, black cherry, black raspberry, peat and licorice, all lifted by a floral note. Sweet, lush and pliant, with compelling dark fruit and licorice flavors. Finishes very long, with major tannins and a flavor of bitter chocolate. I slightly underrated both this wine and the Herb Lamb '99 a year ago. 93(+?)

 By Stephen Tanzer