Tag Archives: Opus One

Taste of Oakville 2014

Several months ago, we attended Taste of Oakville 2014. As one of our favorite Cabernet Sauvignon regions in the world, it was a pleasure to attend this event. This year, the wines featured were primarily from the 2011 vintage allowing the taster to get a good perspective on Oakville wines from top producers. As always Robert Mondavi Winery did a world class job hosting the event!

As with a few previous years, we were fortunate to attend the Master Class. It was a highly educational seminar where the panel explored climate differences through the years, their impact on the wines, and steps the vineyards took to adjust throughout the season. Complimenting the session, wines were poured from 2005 to 2012 with slides and discussion showing rain and heat levels per month through the year.

While it was not possible to try every wine during the tasting, the most notable ones follow. They are not sorted in order of preference. If a wine is not listed, we either did not taste the wine, or found it did not show as well as others.

Exceptional Wines

2012 Entre Nous Sauvignon Blanc
2010 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Opus One
2011 Screaming Eagle
2011 Screaming Eagle Second Flight

Very good Wines

2004 Bond St Eden
2004 Bond Vecina
2011 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon
2011 Detert Family Cabernet Franc
2011 Entre Nous Cabernet Sauvignon
2011 Flora Springs Holy Smoke Cabernet Sauvignon
2000 Harlan Estate
2011 MacDonald Cabernet Sauvignon
2012 O’Shaughnessy Chardonnay
2009 Tierra Roja Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Paradigm Cabernet Sauvignon
2006 Plumpjack Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Rudd Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Saddleback Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

Like other trade tastings we have attended, sample sizes are small and quick judgements are made under not the most ideal circumstances. Having tasted these wines many times over through the years, can reasonable access each wine for obvious qualities. In tasting wine for potential purchase or further evaluation, we value balance, complexity, and age worthiness, in general, a wine that makes a statement on the nose, mid-palate and finish will catch our attention.

Overall, the 2011 vintage was a challenging one for California Cabernet relative to those of the past 5 years. Like most difficult vintages, there will always be exceptions, however in 2011, greater care than normal should be exercised in selecting wines for long term cellaring.

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
https://www.santarosafinewine.com/

Taste of Oakville 2012

This week, we attended one of our favorite wine events of the year, a Taste of Oakville. The Oakville Winegrowers put on the event which includes a Master Class, Lunch, and Grand Tasting. This year, the theme was Vintage and Vision, with wines primarily poured from 2009.

Master Class – The master class was moderated by Paul Roberts of Bond, and panel members Dirk Hampson of Far Niente, Patrick Sullivan of Rudd, and Andy Erickson of Dalla Valle. In keeping with the theme of vintage and vision, the Master Class focused on wines separated by some age, growing conditions, and challenges wine makers faced in particular years. The wines that followed were discussed.

1998 Far Niente Cabernet – A hot year, where nearly half the harvest was lost, noted black tea, cognac, cherry. Light bricking, a wine that tasted old school. A very good drinking wine from a historically challenging vintage.

2008 Far Niente Cabernet – A small harvest, grapes were on the vine much longer than usual. Made in a more modern style, the wine was bright, yet had a dense and clean mouthfeel. A great drinking wine.

2000 Bond Vecina – A vintage that was not particularly hot or cold, no frost, no major climate challenges. Noted a vanilla quality immediately, soft tannins, with a more notable finish than mid palate. Beginning to show its age, showed better as it sat in the glass.

2005 Bond Vecina – A classic vintage, again noted some vanilla, clean, and like the 2000, got a lot better as it sat in the glass. A powerful wine, did not pickup any heat, and thought it had more notable oak than the previous wine. An excellent wine.

2002 Rudd Oakville Cabernet – A leaner, more tannic wine, thought it was more balanced and age worthy than the previous wines tasted. Subtle mint on the nose was appealing. One of the better 2002 California Cabernets tasted in some time.

2008 Rudd Oakville Cabernet – Initally, thought the wine was more one dimension, big ripe vanilla fruit, with a touch of funk. With time in the glass, got cleaner with a nice chalky finish. With firm acidity, and dry tannin, thought it was just an ok wine.

1991 Dalla Valle Cabernet – Grassy, tea, forest floor, exotic game, minerality, thought this was a great Cabernet. Tannin is still quite firm, with darker fruits. One of our favorite producers, the wine was excellent, and made in a more old school style.

2009 Dalla Valle Cabernet – Distinctly modern in style, ripe, big blue fruits, some vanilla creaminess. Not entirely sure this wine is built for the long term. Came across as a wine that would be best opened young. A good wine to revisit.

Grand Tasting – The Grand Tasting was a walk around tasting of current release wines from various Oakville member producers. Pours were relatively small, so no effort is made to capture detailed tasting notes. Wines did leave an impression, and a brief list follows. If a wine is not listed, either we did not taste it or did not show well. Wines are not sorted in any particular order.

Top Wines

2009 Futo Estate Red Wine
2008 Groth Reserve Cabernet
2008 Harlan Maiden
2009 Maybach Materium
2010 O’ Shaughnessy Chardonnay
2008 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet
2009 Screaming Eagle

Very Good Wines

2009 Ghost Block Estate Cabernet
2009 Harbison Estate
1993 Harlan Estate
2009 Miner Family Oakville Cabernet
2008 Opus One
2005 Paradigm Winery Cabernet

Wines to Revisit

2001 Bond Vecina
2006 Cosentino Oakville Cabernet
2009 Far Niente Estate Cabernet
2008 Kelleher Family Cabernet
2009 Nickel and Nickel John C Sullenger Cabernet
2008 Saddleback Cellars Cabernet
2005 Swanson Alexis Cabernet
2003 Tierra Roja Cabernet
2009 Vine Cliff Oakville Cabernet

Of the last three Napa Valley vintages and based on the wines we have sampled at this tasting and numberous others, have a preference toward the 2007, 2009, and 2008 vintage in that order. Think the 2007 and 2009 vintage wines tend to offer more structure and age worthiness, whereas, the 2008 wines are more big and ripe, ones that we think will tend to drink best on the younger side.

Thank you to the Oakville Winegrowers and Robert Mondavi Winery for hosting an outstanding event. Special thank you to Dirk Hampson who sat at our table at lunch offering numerous insights into wine making and sharing his rich history and experience in the wine industry!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

 

Taste of Oakville 2011

The Oakville Winegrowers put on one of the better tastings of the year in Napa Valley when they hold their annual Taste of Oakville. We attended the tasting recently at Robert Mondavi Winery. It was a great opportunity to try current release Cabernets from the Oakville region, and in our case, heavily influences what we purchase in the coming years.

Overall, thought the 2008 vintage wines showed well based on the wines tasted. A vast majority were relatively easy to drink, and for the most part will be enjoyable young. Thought the wines had far more in common with the 2006 vintage, than 2007. When comparing 2007 and 2008 wines, continue to prefer the structure, balance and elegance of 2007 over the riper, more approachable 2008s.
The top wine of the tasting was a beautiful 1994 Dalla Valle Maya. An oustanding wine, it was elegant, earthy, lead pencil, tannic and dusty, with plenty of dark black fruits. Our second favorite wine was the 2007 Harlan Estate Cabernet. It had deep, dark cherry notes, bell pepper, an inky texture, and mint on finish. With some age, should be equally outstanding.
Group 1 – Top Wines

1994 Dalla Valle Maya
2008 Dalla Valle Cabernet
2007 Harlan Estate Cabernet
2008 Screaming Eagle
2007 Swanson Alexis Cabernet

Group 2 – Very Good Wines
2007 Bond Vecina
2006 Bond St. Eden
2008 Dalla Valle Collina
2008 Far Niente Estate Cabernet
2008 Futo Estate Cabernet
2008 Gargiulo Money Road Cabernet
2009 Harbison Estate Cabernet
2008 Nickel and Nickel Blending Iron Cabernet
2008 Nickel and Nickel Rock Cairn Cabernet
2008 Nickel and Nickel Kelham Cabernet
2007 Opus One
2007 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet
2007 Saddleback Cellars Oakville Barrel Select Cabernet
2008 Textbook Mise en Place Cabernet
Group 3 – Enjoyable Wines
2008 Flora Springs Holy Smoke Vineyard Cabernet
2008 Gargiulo OVX Cabernet
2007 Gargiulo OVX Cabernet
2008 Ghost Block Estate Cabernet
2007 Groth Reserve Cabernet
2008 Nickel and Nickel Tench Cabernet
2008 Nickel and Nickel John C. Sullenger Cabernet
2008 Oakville East Exposure Cabernet
2007 Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet
If a wine was not listed, either we did not taste the wine, or in the case of 12 wines, did not find it particularly appealing. Most of the 12 will be revisited again in the future. In a few cases, they were newer producers to us. In other cases, ones we have tried in the past, had a favorable opinion, and did not find the wine appealing in this vintage. For wines Santa Rosa Fine Wine purchases, tend to establish a tasting track record over several years.
Cheers to Robert Mondavi Winery and the Oakville Winegrowers for putting on another very enjoyable tasting!
Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

San Francisco Trade Tasting

Attended a trade tasting in San Francisco recently where several nice wines were poured. Having tasted many of them in the past, was a good opportunity to revisit how the wines were aging. In a few cases, was surprised by a high quality wine we have never had before. In particular, referring to an awesome 1989 Vega Sicilia Unico and 1989 Penfolds Grange!

Pours at this particular tasting were relatively small, and only revisited a few of the wines later in the tasting. As a result, no attempt is made at detailed notes, nor ranking the wines in order of personal preference. Nearly all wines showed well, with special mention to the 1995 Krug, 1990 Latour, 1989 Penfolds Grange, and 1989 Vega Sicilia Unico! Brief observations follow.
Champagne

1995 Krug– Crisp, nutty, butterscotch and hazelnut, this was a gorgeous complex and youthful Krug that should be exceptional with a decade or more age.

White Wines

1991 Chapoutier Ermitage Cuvee de l’Oree – Some diesel notes, a flat mouthfeel, and relatively fat on the palate. A fully mature good drinking wine.
2002 Leroy Meursault – Light bodied, some pleasant sweetness, little bit of flint, thought the wine was just ok, expected a little more from this solid producer.
2004 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay – Silky, intense citrus, moving toward a more creamy texture in time. A powerful and well put together Chardonnay.
Red Wines
1990 Chateau Latour – Initially orange rind, sweet, well rounded fruits, revisited later, and shutdown, showed far more tannin. A wine that will continue to improve with age.
1996 Chateau Margaux – More open knit and approachable than the Latour, black cherry fruit, floral, put on weight later in the tasting.
2005 Clos de Papes Chateauneuf de Pape – A very nice wine, big concentrated raspberry fruit, was drinking very well. Far more enjoyable than the Pagau.
2003 Pegau Chateauneuf de Pape Reserve – Have had this wine at least three or four times, have never found it enjoyable. Ripe concentrated plum and prune.
1997 Lisini Brunello di Montelcino Ugolaia – A disappointing wine, grassy, not a lot going on. Did not leave a positive impression.
1989 Vega Sicilia Unico – A young perfectly balanced wine, did not revisit later but suspect it could have easily rivaled any other wine in the tasting in time.
1990 Dominus – Soft, resolved, slightly green, but focused with pleasant mineral and dark fruits. A highly enjoyable well made wine.
1990 Opus One – Have had this wine 5 or 6 times, and this was one of the best showings, thick, ripe, cherry and raspberry fruits, showed far more open than on previous ocassions.
1998 Shafer Hillside Select – Huge wine, mint, black cherry, excellent balance, nice structure and continuing to age beautifully.
2000 Joseph Phelps Insignia – Big wine, similar to the Shafer Hillside, though not as complex. A nice wine with a strong mid palate presence.
1989 Penfolds Grange – Interesting transition on this wine, initially grassy, wheat, cherry and mint, not a thrilling wine, in time, big blue fruits and became exceptional.
2004 Sine Qua Non Covert Fingers – Candied bright red fruits, concentrated, thick full bodied Pinot, showed better on this occasion than other times tasted.
Sauternes
1990 Chateau d’Yquem – Peach, orange, and honey, this sweet, but nuanced wine showed very well, better than the 1986 in the same tasting, but not quite up to the 1988.
1986 Chateau d’Yquem – Orange rind, concentrated and age worthy, the 1986 tasted far younger than the 1990. Continue to age this wine.
Cheers to a very nice wine lineup!
Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine