Wines > Wine Library Notes

Christie Dufault

Christie Dufault, Bay Area sommelier and wine educator, decants the Estate Cabernet in the Spottswoode winery.

Vertical Tasting Held on November 5, 2014

We always look forward to November! Why? After the busy harvest season and before the “crush” of the holidays, we come together for our Annual Vertical Tasting. For us, it is a time to pause, reflect and enjoy our wines. We include prominent guests each year, as we value their contributions to our discussion and the insights they offer. This year we were honored to welcome renowned wine critic, Dan Berger, Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences, The Press Democrat, Napa Valley Register, and Wendy Heilmann, CS, Director of Wine and Spirits for Pebble Beach Resorts.

Dan observed, “The Cabernets were remarkably consistent in style and showed the dedication the winemaking team has showed over the years to a house style that focuses on balance and food compatibility. And in anyone’s language—or number system—that’s commendable!” Wendy remarked, “Some of the wines are showing their age, as expected, and all are eminently drinkable and reflect the signature elegance, silkiness and integration that Spottswoode is known for. A beautiful flight.”

Our wines are like children—it’s impossible to pick a favorite—so we blind-tasted fifteen vintages, 1998–2012, in two separate flights in order to offer you our most unbiased and honest assessment of each. We share our notes with you, our customers and collectors, here to offer you some guidance on what you wish to consider opening and what you might wish to hold.

D Best in Show
Because wines are living things, evolving over time, our impressions and evaluations vary from year to year. On this particular day, the group particularly enjoyed the wines indicated with the Black Labrador symbol. Cheers!

 

Vintages 1998–2011

D 1998 Drink/Hold Pretty garnet color. Still walking a wonderful line between lush fruit and savory earth and herbal characters. Forward, lifted aromas of candied cherry and strawberry, brown sugar, and molasses meld with Turkish tobacco, tea leaf, green olive, cedar, leather, bell pepper, peppermint and dried flowers. Discernable, refined tannins. Fine, elegant, long, and supple. The acid dances along the palate. A slight tartness in the finish. Intriguing. Lovely again this year. Like a great vintage in Graves. Wendy suggests pairing with food.

1999 Hold Deep red color. Slightly restrained, yet very pretty, nose. A wonderful symphony of red cherry, cranberry, currant, potpourri, mint, lavender, sage, mocha, cigar box and some intriguing woodsy notes. Lush mouthfeel, with red fruits showing themselves through the mid-palate and cassis on the finish. Balance and vibrancy, juiciness and acidity, minerality, silkiness. Delicious and intriguing, holding onto its trademark mystery.

2000 Drink/Hold Ruby with a hint of garnet. Dried fruits and herbs, with touches of olive, pine, pencil shavings, leather, tobacco spice, menthol and eucalyptus. Displaying its signature enticing barnyard character, wonderfully balanced by lovely bright raspberry and cherry. Secondary characters dominate the palate, with discernable tannins, fresh acidity and a long silky finish. A big, bold wine that tips its hat to Bordeaux. Unique and very enjoyable—would love to be paired with pot roast.

2001 Drink/Hold Vibrant ruby color. Aromatic, with secondary characters asserting themselves. Pretty cherry and strawberry notes, with some forest floor, mushroom, dried currant, sage, tobacco, cedar, soy, dried herbs and hints of cassis. Elegant, yet deep. Delicate, with a faint dusty component. Is retaining lovely acidity. Medium body and tannins, nice length. Well integrated, silky and supple.

2002 Drink/Hold Inviting, deep, and concentrated. Deep fruit, with lots of blueberry, blackberry and pomegranate mingled with spice, clove, sweet tobacco, carpaccio, and a hint of olive and herbs. It transported Beth to a beautiful cool English castle with damp stones drying in the sun. Pretty on the palate as well—lots of fruit, powerful yet restrained, lifted with good balance and intensity, forward tannins and a long finish.

D 2003 Drink/Hold Deep ruby red. There is a bit of everything in this wine—strength, brightness, and a wonderful mix of primary and secondary characters. Concentrated aromas of mulberry, cola, sassafras, marshmallow, vanilla, pencil lead, rose petal, and forest floor. Forward flavors of red and black fruit, cassis, currants, chocolate, cinnamon and clove. Balanced and present. Broad and mouth-coating, with a lovely mouthfeel. Fine, lingering tannins. Elegant and finessed.

D 2004 Drink/Hold Dark red/purple. Lush aromas of blueberry, blackberry, cherry, vanilla, brown sugar, marzipan, orange peel, chocolate and cedar. Rich and bold. Intense palate, discernable pretty oak and a concentrated red fruit core. Complex and long, with great structure and bold, yet fine, tannins. Powerful, ripe and showy. In a very pretty place.

2005 Drink/Hold Pretty brick-red color. Forward, ripe, concentrated red and black fruit aromas meld with enticing herbal notes of dried sage, hay, and a touch of eucalyptus. Hints of cherry cola, leather, marzipan, and orange rind. Textured, with a beautiful silky mouthfeel, great acidity and freshness, a hint of oak, fine tannins, and great length. Wendy felt this wine “is in a very happy place.”

2006 Hold Just starting to show some secondary characters. An inviting mix of primary red fruit, cherry candy, Eastern spices, fireplace ash, flowers, herbs, green olive, fresh sage, white pepper, lemon peel, curry, cardamom, with some soy, sea spray and flint. Long, complex, and layered, with brawny tannins and a hint of oak char. Mouthfilling, fine powdery tannins, a lifted mid-palate, with everything in check. Youthful, retaining a slight edge. Intriguing. We think this will still benefit from some time.

2007 Hold Youthful, fresh, ripe and full. Broad and textured with complex notes of plum, crushed blackberry, loganberry, incense, milk chocolate, caramel, molasses, and cream pie, with some subtler notes of tar, pencil lead, and soy. Textured and juicy, with lots of tannin asserting itself right now. Well-integrated oak, discernable acid focuses the flavors. We all feel that this wine has entered its teenage years and asks for more time to integrate. Great potential.

D 2008 Hold A deep, dark wine, holding itself tightly at the moment, though still with lots going on. Extracted and big, with savory blackberry and cherry fruit set against a backdrop of mushroom, black olive, charcoal, toffee, caramel and soy. Beautiful balance, fleshy, with firm angular tannins. There is a nice transition from acid to tannin, and great harmony between the two. Exciting, with tons of potential.

2009 Hold A wonderful sense of ripeness, with lovely primary fruit characters. A bit brooding at this point in time. Some back notes of briar, tobacco and savory black olive with a hint of caramel. Fresh and persistent, with fine, chalky tannins and nice acidity. Asks for cellar time to knit together and develop additional complexity. Superb potential.

D 2010 Hold A beautiful sensation of concentrated blackberry and blueberry syrup. Seductive and enticing, with lots of packed fruit, dark mocha, rose petal and lavender, enhanced by savory olive and bay characters. Round and youthful with terrific density. Deftly balances ripeness and finesse. Chewy, yet fine tannins. Lovely oak influence and a long finish. Wants time for optimal integration.

2011 Hold Distinctive and fresh, textured and juicy, herbal and weighty. Dark plum fruit and bramble characters give way to notes of cedar, clove, violets, Middle Eastern spices, herbs, black tea and fresh bell pepper. A serious wine with both ripeness and concentration. The fruit is a bit hidden just now as expected in a wine at this stage. Dan feels this vintage will be astounding as it comes together over time.

Vintages 1982-1997
“Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery seems to be an anomaly in the early days of the 21st century. Unwaveringly for the last quarter century it has sought a sameness of what this remarkable site displays. The quest has been successful: The wine shows terroir.”

Dan Berger, Appellation America: Spottswoode Estate, Keepers of the Terroir

Christie Dufault

Christie Dufault, Bay Area sommelier and wine educator, decants the Estate Cabernet in the Spottswoode winery.

“Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery seems to be an anomaly in the early days of the 21st century. Unwaveringly for the last quarter century it has sought a sameness of what this remarkable site displays. The quest has been successful: The wine shows terroir.”

Dan Berger, Appellation America: Spottswoode Estate, Keepers of the Terroir

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