Colgin Cellars - Press - The Best of Northern California - 2003, 2002, 2001

The Best of Northern California - 2003, 2002, 2001

« Back

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


A Comprehensive Review of the Finest North Coast Producers

2003 CABERNET SAUVIGNON HERB LAMB VYD.
NAPA(release date 11/06)RED(91-94)
2002 CABERNET SAUVIGNON HERB LAMB VYD.
NAPA(release date 11/05)RED96
2003 CABERNET SAUVIGNON TYCHSON HILL VYD.
NAPA(release date 11/06)RED(93-95)
2002 CABERNET SAUVIGNON TYCHSON HILL VYD.
NAPA(release date 11/05)RED100
2003 CARIAD PROPRIETARY RED WINE
NAPA(release date 11/06)RED(95-99+)
2002 CARIAD PROPRIETARY RED WINE
NAPA(release date 11/05)RED97
2003 IX PROPRIETARY RED ESTATE
NAPA(release date 4/06)RED(95-99)
2002 IX PROPRIETARY RED ESTATE
NAPA(release date 4/05)RED98
2003 IX SYRAH ESTATE
NAPA(release date 4/06)RED(94-96)
2002 IX SYRAH ESTATE
NAPA(release date 4/05)RED95

The beautiful Colgin vineyards and winery, high on a mountain top overlooking Lake Hennessy, are planted at elevations of 900-1300 feet. They are about as close to a viticultural nirvana as have ever seen. Not only is the view beautiful, the efforts being put forth by owners Ann Colgin and her husband, Joe Wender, together with one of the world's foremost winemaking teams, Mark Aubert and St. Emilion's Dr. Alain Raynaud, have resulted in prodigious, riveting wines. The bad news is that until their estate vineyard comes into full production, the quantities from the Herb Lamb Vineyard (200-250 cases), Tychson Hill (175-200 cases), Cariad (500-550 cases), the IX Proprietary Red Estate (180 cases), and the IX Syrah Estate (175 cases) are extremely small. The only chance most readers will have to taste these wines is to get on the winery's mailing list, or buy them at auction.

Following brilliant performances in 2001, outstanding wines have been produced in both 2002 and 2003. Moreover, Colgin is thrilled with what they harvested in 2004.

The 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard (220 cases) exhibits a dense purple color in addition to a big, rich bouquet of grilled meats, dried herbs, ground pepper, espresso, blackberries, cassis, and blueberries, This seriously endowed yet elegant Cabernet is fullbodied, dense, and rich with sweet tannin as well as a surprising accessibility - a characteristic of this exciting vintage. Anticipated maturity: now-2020. The amazing 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Vineyard (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) offers up a fabulously fragrant perfume of chocolate, barbecue smoke, crème do cassis, crushed rocks, and spring flowers, A wine of enormous concentration, multiple dimensions, layers of flavor, and a sensational one minute plus finish, its purity, harmony, and symmetry are prodigious. It should be at its peak between 2009-2028, A proprietary blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, and the balance equal parts Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, the 2002 Cariad (520 cases) is fashioned from the Madrona Ranch and Thorevilos vineyards. A California hybrid version of a big, rich St.-Emilion/Graves blend, it reveals a Bordeaux-like structure along with loads of tannin as well as a certain tightness. Extraordinarily elegant, exotic notes of orange rind, ground pepper, incense, and Indian spices are intermixed with chocolate and blackberry currant characteristics in a seamless, fullbodied style that coats the palate without any sense of heaviness, As it sits in the glass, meaty, bay leaf, smoked Peking duck, and new saddle leather characteristics also emerge. This singular red can be drunk early in life, or aged for two decades or more. The 2002 IX Proprietary Red Estate (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot) offers up wonderful scents of Asian soy sauce intermixed with creosote, smoked herbs, blackberries, and cassis. Again, there is a Bordeaux structure superimposed on a wine of compelling intensity, richness, and purity. Spicy, incense-like notes also emerge from this distinctive effort. Unlike the Cariad or Tychson Hill, the IX cuvée has a boatload of tannin to shed. Give it 4-5 years of cellaring and drink it over the following 20-25 years.

The 2003s are not at the level of the 2002s or 2001s, with the possible exception of the Cariad and IX Proprietary Red. Nevertheless, they are among the finest Cabernets I tasted in this vintage. The elegant 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard (225 oases) offers up notes of tobacco, lavender, spice box, black currants, and licorice in a medium to full-bodied, persistent, rich, well-focused style. It possesses gorgeous complexity, plenty of flavor, and moderate tannin, but not the weight, depth, or seamlessness of the 2002 and 2001. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2008. The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Vineyard (250 cases) reveals the purity and nobility of pure cedar-infused crème do cassis fruit, medium to full body, striking concentration and clarity, and a long, heady, rich finish with moderate but sweet tannin, A potential "wine of the vintage" is the 2003 Cariad, a 500-case blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and the balance equal parts Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, A color reminiscent of squid ink is accompanied by fabulous aromas of melted licorice, camphor, blackberries, cassis, spice box, earth, new saddle leather, and graphite. Full-bodied, with fabulous concentration, a multilayered, skyscraper-like mouthfeel, and sweet tannin in the texturally sensual finish, this beauty should be drinkable when released, and last for two decades or more. The 2003 may turn out to be as good or better than the 2002... and that's saying something! The same comments can be applied to the 2003 IX Proprietary Red Estate (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot). The good news is that there are now 1,000 cases produced from the hillside vineyards. An inky/purple hue is followed by loads of floral-infused crème de cassis and licorice notes with smoky oak in the background. The wine hits the palate with superb ripeness, purity, and richness as well as a seamless harmony and a long, persistent, pure, voluptuous finish. This is a beauty! Anticipated maturity: 2007-2022.

There are 175 cases of the 2002 IX Syrah Estate. One hundred percent destemmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts, and aged in Burgundy barrels before being bottled unfined and unfiltered, this Cote Rôtie-like Syrah smells like it contains some Viognier, although it does not. Exotic floral characteristics intermixed with notions of lapenade. blackberries, coffee, and chocolate jump from the glass of this fullbodied yet supple-textured, voluptuously-styled red. Already irresistible, this fabulous Syrah can be enjoyed over the next 7-10 years, Production of this cuvée escalates to 500 cases with the 2003 IX Syrah Estate Revealing more of the smoky bacon fat, melted asphalt, peppery, blackberry side of Syrah, it possesses a northern Rhone Valley-like structure as well as huge concentration and depth, and a fabulous finish. It made me think of one of Chapoutier's limited production cuvées of old vine Hermitage, such as Le Pavilion. Give it 4-5 years of collaring, and drink it over the following two decades. Structurally, it is completely different than the 2002. Tel. (707) 963-0999; Fax (707) 963-0996

 By Robert M. Parker, Jr.