Colgin Cellars - Press - Focus on California, Issue 108

Focus on California, Issue 108

« Back

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Stephen Tanzer's Tasting Notes for May/June 2003

Colgin Cellars
Winemaker Mark Aubert compared the Colgin 2001s to the legendary '47s and '61s made in Bordeaux, and was confident that this crop of Colgin wines would go on for decades in bottle. Ordinarily, I would take such statements with a grain of salt, but there's no arguing with these wines' extraordinary material. My tasting ended with a look at two lots of 2002 cabernet sauvignon from the new planting around the winery, on rocky, volcanic soil above Lake Hennessey at an altitude of 1,200 to 1,400 feet. Both offered near-exotic creaminess and sweetness, with varietally accurate cassis, currant leaf and tobacco aromas and flavors complicated by an element of iron. And, finally, there was an early taste of the estate's first - and highly promising - essay into syrah (see the note below). Ann Colgin was worried about whether the introduction of a syrah would muddy the winery's image as a top cabernet producer, but this is a problem most producers would like to have. Alain Raynaud, owner of Chateau Quinault in St. Emilion and former president of Bordeaux's Union des Grands Crus, is now consulting here.

2000 Colgin Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard
(bottled in December of 2002, later than usual) Medium ruby-red. Aromas of blueberry, cassis and tar, with floral and menthol nuances. Supple but rather backward, with game and mint notes and a strong element of chocolatey oak. Offers plenty of density, but shows the least complete flavor development of any of this producer's wines from the 2000, 2001 and 2002 vintages. I overestimated this wine from barrel.

2000 Colgin Cariad Napa Valley
(a blend of 55% cabernet sauvignon, 35% merlot, 5% petit verdot and 5% cabernet franc; mostly from Madrona Ranch fruit) Good full medium ruby. Big, bright aromas of raspberry, bitter chocolate, minerals and smoke, with an intriguing suggestion of peat. Tangy and bright but also quite glyceral in the middle, with strong, urgent fruit and mineral notes. Energetic, pure wine, finishing very long, with ripe, fine tannins spreading out to coat the palate. A triumph for the vintage.

2000 Colgin Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Napa Valley
(100% cabernet sauvignon) Saturated dark ruby to the rim. Tight, pure aromas of black raspberry, bitter chocolate and spices. Superripe and large-scaled but rather closed today; a wine of great fullness, with powerful flavors of black raspberry, shoe polish, licorice, lead pencil, minerals and dark chocolate. Not quite as showy today as the Cariad, but this big boy may ultimately be the greater wine. Finishes with chewy, ripe tannins and superb persistence.

2001 Colgin Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard
Good bright ruby. Highly aromatic nose of blueberry and dark chocolate, with exhilarating floral and peppery nuances. Offers compellingly intense, powerful flavors of black and blue fruits, dark chocolate and minerals; conveys a strong impression of nervous energy. Extremely concentrated and wonderfully long on the aftertaste, with thoroughly ripe, sweet tannins. These wines always have high pHs, but this shows great vinosity and precision in the mouth and vibrancy on the aftertaste.

2001 Colgin Cariad Napa Valley
(a blend of 54% cabernet sauvignon, 32% merlot, 7% cabernet franc and 7% petit verdot) Good full deep ruby. Liqueur-like aromas of black raspberry, bitter chocolate and vanillin oak; verging on exotic. Hugely rich and sweet wine of compelling creamy opulence. Really opens out in the middle palate and builds toward the back. Sound acids and underlying mineral character give shape to the wine's extraordinary fruit. Finishes with major sweet tannins and palate-staining persistence.

2001 Colgin Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Napa Valley
Bright, full, saturated ruby. Knockout sappy nose of blackberry liqueur, blackcurrant, minerals and licorice. Extremely dense and powerful but more tightly wrapped than the Cariad. Still, this fabulous wine's great richness and depth are already apparent. A huge, superripe cabernet with extraordinary sucrosity. Finishes with big, sweet tannins that coat the front teeth and a burst of chocolatey oak.

2002 Colgin Cabernet Sauvignon Tychson Hill Napa Valley
Bright, full ruby. Roasted aromas of smoky black raspberry and game. Another vintage bringing extraordinary thickness and sweetness of fruit, with a distinctly high-pH mouth feel (Aubert says the fruit benefitted from even longer hang time in 2002 than in 2001). This has incredible material but is very unformed today. Finishes with great chewy tannins and remarkable persistence. My scoring range is just an early snapshot.

2002 Colgin Syrah Napa Valley
(this baby hasn't yet been named) Bright ruby. Sappy aromas of crystallized black raspberry, violet, licorice, game and animal fur. Lush, creamy and seamless, with superripe, sweet flavors of smoky black raspberry, game, minerals and pepper, with lots of sexy chocolatey oak. Very deeply pitched wine, not yet showing any syrah treble notes but very long on the back end. Carrying a very high 16% alcohol, yet this certainly tastes like syrah. Clearly another extremely promising site for this variety.

 By Stephen Tanzer

Stephen Tanzer's International W