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Thursday, December 23, 2010


2008 IX PROPRIETARY RED ESTATE
Napa(release date November 2011)RED96
2008 CABERNET SAUVIGNON TYCHSON HILL VYD.
Napa(release date March 2012)RED94
2008 CARIAD PROPRIETARY RED WINE
Napa(release date March 2012)RED95+
2008 IX SYRAH ESTATE
Napa(release date November 2011)RED94

Proprietor Ann Colgin, her winemaker, Allison Tauziet, and consultant, Dr. Alain Raynaud, must be pleased with their 2008s and attractive 2009s, even though neither of these two vintages measures up to what they achieved in 2007, 2005, 2002 and 2001. The 2008s were all bottled in July 2010. It's hard to believe, but the Tychson Hill Vineyard on Route29 just north of St. Helena is now 12 years old. The dense purple-colored 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Vineyard exhibits notes of cassis, charcoal and toast in a full-bodied, velvety textured, concentrated style. The tannins are ripe and the wine reveals impressive levels of richness as well as intensity. The final blend is virtually all Cabernet Sauvignon and the wine can be drunk now or cellared for 20 or more years. The 2008 Cariad, a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32 % Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and the balance Petit Verdot, has been tweaked a bit since I tasted it last year. Another stunning effort, it possesses a Bordeaux-like structural profile along with a dense purple color and a big, sweet perfume of graphite, burning embers, licorice, black currants and blackberries. Very concentrated and in need of 2-3 years of cellaring despite the hefty Merlot component, it should drink well for 25-30 years. As a postscript, there was a big 2005 Bordeaux first-growth tasting in Napa Valley done under blind conditions. The interloper was the 2005 Cariad which 12 of 14 tasters ranked first. A very interesting result to say the least. The opaque purple-hued 2008 IX Proprietary Red, a blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and the balance Petit Verdot (also slightly modified from last year), reveals notes of espresso roast, blueberries, black currants and lead pencil shavings. The wine reveals superb concentration and richness as well as a structured mouthfeel. It begs for 4-5 years of cellaring and should drink well for 20-30+ years.

2009 was an overall cooler year, but the harvest at Colgin took place before the unprecedented 5- to 6- inch rainfalls hit Northern California in mid- October. Yields were normal across the board. The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Vineyard (92% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot) is much more approachable than either the 2008 or 2007 were at the same age. Front end-loaded and charming with lots of succulent sweet black currant and blackberry fruit intermixed with hints of toast, burning embers, spicy herbs and new saddle leather, it is a beautiful, forward, precocious Cabernet that should drink well young and last for 12-15 years. Beautiful balance along with a seamless integration of tannin, wood, acidity and alcohol characterize the dense purple-colored 2009 Cariad, a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot. Full-bodied yet elegant, this appears to be the star of Colgin's trio of Bordeaux-styled 2009s. Notes of sweet black fruits, roasted herbs, camphor, espresso roast and subtle new oak are all present in this full-bodied effort. It reveals the vintage's sweet tannins, up-front, precocious fruit and charm. Enjoy it over the next 15+ years. Composed of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from Colgin's gorgeous hillside estate vineyard overlooking Lake Hennessy, the 2009 IX Proprietary Red boasts soaring aromas of barbecue smoke, black currants, blackberries, charcoal and earth. Medium to full-bodied, rich, soft and already displaying surprising complexity, it is less concentrated than the Cariad, but potentially more complex aromatically. It should be drinkable relatively early for a Colgin cuvée and evolve for 15 or more years.

Interesting French-like Syrahs are also made from the estate's steep hillside vineyards. The 2008 IX Syrah Estate is performing even better than it did last year from barrel. Juicy bacon fat, roasted meat, grilled herb and smoky notes are classic northern Rhône Syrah characteristics. A floral component suggests some Viognier could be co-fermented, but this is 100% Syrah. The wood is well-concealed in the full-bodied, delicious wine. It is capable of a decade or more of cellaring. The 2009 IX Syrah Estate reveals remarkable complexity. In fact, it reminded me of a French Côte Rôtie (which I was tasting in the northern Rhône just three weeks earlier). Classic floral notes intermixed with bacon fat, cassis and black raspberries jump from the glass of this medium to full-bodied, delicious, silky smooth, impressive Syrah. It should drink well for 7-8 years.

In case you missed the reviews in issue of 186 (12-23-09), the just released bottled 2007s received the following scores: Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vyd. (97) (the last release from this site) Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill (97+), Cariad (99), IX Proprietary Red (100), IX Syrah Estate (95). Tel (707) 963-0999; Fax (707) 963-0996.

 By Robert M. Parker Jr