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 11, 2015

We eagerly anticipate our vertical tasting each November when we gather together and taste through fifteen vintages of Spottswoode Estate Cabernet. A few lucky guests are included each year to assist us in this endeavor, and we value their insights and contributions to our notes. At this tasting we were honored to welcome Virginie Boone (Contributing Editor, Wine Enthusiast Magazine), Ira Harmon (Master Sommelier), William Kelley (President of Oxford University Wine Circle), Dan Petroski (Winemaker), and Benjamin Richardson (Advanced Sommelier). We are excited to share our collective tasting notes with you to provide some guidance on the wines you might wish to consider opening and those you might decide to hold.

D Best in Show
Because wines continue to evolve over time, our impressions vary each year. In this tasting, the group particularly enjoyed the wines marked with our Black Labrador symbol.

 

Vintages 1999–2012

1999 Hold Deep ruby purple. Brooding black fruit with loamy undertones. Pomegranate, plum, sandalwood, cinnamon stick, Eastern spice, cedar, sage, black olive, tobacco leaf, leather and dark chocolate. Savory and spicy. Lots of depth, structure and tannin, juicy, vibrant acidity, wonderful tension and balance. Predict a long life ahead.

2000 Drink/Hold Dark ruby with a hint of garnet. Deep bouquet with rich, savory aromatics and the enticing trademark hint of barnyard that denotes this vintage. Fresh, lovely, elegant, with rose petal, plum, tobacco, leather, damp leaves, herbs, pepper, coffee and black tea characters. Earthy overtones, melted tannins; palate is juicy with red and blue fruit characters and warmth on the finish.

2001 Drink/Hold Dark ruby. Dense, yet expressive and savory, with underlying dark black and blue fruit. Chocolate, tobacco, dried herbs, rose petals, sage, cedar, menthol, cassis, cinnamon, salted caramel, leather, and crushed charcoal with top notes of violet and lilac. Lifted, pretty, and silky, with a sweet, elegant, cohesive palate and firm tannins. Classic Spottswoode, classic aged Cabernet. Has held up beautifully and looks to have a long life ahead.

D 2002 Drink/Hold Dark ruby red. Enticing and expressive, with currant, blueberry cream, candied cassis, brown sugar, kirsch, marzipan, forest floor and graphite. A vibrant palate that follows the nose—round, mouth-filling and broad, with an elegant, long silky finish and acid and tannin in perfect balance. High-toned with a fresh core, dense and savory. Showing beautifully.

D 2003 Drink/Hold Deep tawny red. Expressive and dynamic, ripe and savory, with lots of intensity. Complex, inviting nose of baked plum, strawberry and cherry, with cinnamon, milk chocolate, spice, fresh hay, brown sugar and butterscotch, sea salt, leather, tobacco, and warm stone. Big, mouth-coating tannins, very well balanced. A hint of sweetness. Good weight. Elegant and pretty, with great texture.

D 2004 Drink/Hold Dark ruby red. Ripe, showy and rich, conveying a sense of sweetness. High-toned, with concentrated aromas of strawberry/cherry pie, chocolate, caramel, rum cake, Christmas spice, and baked plum, balanced by hints of black tea, dried flowers, and graphite. A dense core. The ripe, red fruits carry forward through the voluptuous, yet structured palate. Lifted spice and acidity, wonderful texture. Dynamic, lingering, flashy.

2005 Drink/Hold Magenta with a brick-red rim. Initially a more brooding, reserved nose, but opens up beautifully in the glass. A lovely medley of earth and fruit characters. Everything from warm strawberry and vanilla to pine and forest floor notes, baking spice to tar and tobacco leaves, black pepper to plum balsamic, cherry compote to sea salt. Expansive, dynamic, and dense. Nice texture, good balance; lifted acidity gives the wine structure and depth. An enticing bowl of ingredients, showing wonderfully.

2006 Hold Tawny red. More herbal, earthy notes dominate—olive, pine, roasted hazelnut, leather, tar, menthol, white pepper, tea, freshly turned earth, with a rich, chocolatey dense core and some red fruit characters—pomegranate and strawberry as well as plum. Structured, firm tannins, spicy oak, a bit tight. Nice texture, a hint of dustiness, long savory finish. Wants time.

2007 Hold Opaque ruby. Dark, plush and intense. Sweet cassis, red fruit concentrate, baked candied apple, brown sugar, sage, and manzanita, a hint of salt spray and briar as well as tea leaf and crushed stone. Fresh and juicy. Great weight on the balanced, broad, velvety palate, while a bit tannic and tight at this tasting. Great structure, lifted acidity. Lovely texture and purity. Asks for time.

D 2008 Hold Opaque ruby. Dense and rich. Inky dense core of baked blue and black fruit, layered with flowers and notes of caramel, chocolate, pepper, minerals and fireplace ash, and black olive. Rich and round, yet boasts substantial backbone and tannins. Warm, lingering finish. Great balance, velvety texture. High-toned, fresh and juicy. Showy, a crowd pleaser, fooled some of us into thinking it was the 2007.

2009 Hold Opaque ruby purple. Very ripe and warm, with a jammy impression. Big impact, with demonstrative forward fruit. Black cherry, cranberry-raspberry caramel pie, cinnamon, and light notes of mint, dust, and cassis. Effortless and fresh. Fleshy and broad, but with bright acidity, svelte tannins, an elegant mid-palate and a long, juicy finish. Showy and rich.

2010 Hold Opaque dark ruby. Vibrant, pretty, big and deep, yet tightly held—the nose is somewhat restrained. Youthful fruit, more red than blue, is augmented by spice, anise, sage, mint, cola, chalk dust, graphite, and flowers. A sweet core. Lifted acidity, freshness and dancing tannins. Silky, light and elegant, lightly dusty, yet mouth-coating. Texturally generous, structurally serious and savory. Stellar, yet wants time as it is in a slightly closed phase.

2011 Hold Dark purple. Youthful, vibrant, lively, and pretty. Intriguing, high-toned blue and black fruit, with attractive sage and herb underpinnings. Fresh, with graphite and blackberry, cedar and clove. Nice minerality and a cool stone quality. Roasted nuts, passion fruit, and pepper jelly. Slightly angular, yet fine tannins and toasty wood characters, with both juicy and herbal notes on the palate. Soft, nice balance, great energy. Still tightly wound—asks for time.

D 2012 Hold Opaque purple. Youthful intensity, a big bowl of blue and black fruit, with baking spices, cream pie, chocolate, and toffee. High-toned floral notes, almost like liquid flowers. Hints of tobacco, clove, and toast. Explosive sweetness and structure. Youthful, grippy palate. Great balance, length and density, generous creamy mouthfeel. Elegant. We loved this wine! If we were assigning points, this would be Dan’s 100-pointer. Everyone agreed: a great deal of “Yum Factor.”

Vintages 1982-1998
“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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