2007 Cal Cult Cabs (SE, Harlan, etc.) and a bunch more
Tasted September 30, 2012 by Loren Sonkin with 991 views
Last night my wife and I joined three other couples and met at one of Cleveland's trendier places (with a James Beard nominated chef) for a dinner featuring the 2007 California Cult Cabs. This was a private affair that took almost five hours. The wines were served non-blind in flights. First, let me say that the service was awesome for the entire evening. The food was amazing and plentiful. I commented at some point that after 18 wines (not quite), the food was taking more of a toll than the wine. I won't need to eat for a week. An truly amazing night.
Flight 1 (1 note)
A "starter" while we all arrived:
White - Sparkling
1996 Salon Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs
Light golden in color. The nose has green apples and a slight bread note. So smooth. I saved a glass to sip all night. With air, it got a sour lemon candy note which I really liked. Eventually, the nose got a bit of a nutty quality. The lemon candy turned a bit sweeter like "Lemonheads". Great acidity and still youthful. Wonderful way to start.
Flight 2 (2 notes)
The Marcassin was the groups favorite.
2009 Sine Qua Non On The Lam
Yellow/gold in color. The nose is waxy with lemons and and lemon chiffon. Tight at first on the palate, this wine never got a full chance to show what it could offer, but it was still lovely. Smooth, waxy on the palate, some heat with the first sip, it smoothed out nicely.
2007 Marcassin Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard
This was very tight at first. I kept my glass for a while and kept swirling but after twenty minutes, it opened up. Light gold in color. The nose has lemons, vanilla, lemon cream pie. It was never a huge nose but kept getting bigger. The palate was firing from the get-go. Great acidity and balance. This is a big wine, no doubt, but delicious. I could see where some might find this too much of a good thing, but I found it within reason and an amazing wine. Really showing complexity at this time and no where near at peak. It kept getting better. The finish is amazing. Outside of d'Yquem, I am not sure I have had a wine that stays on the palate and lingers longer.
Flight 3 (4 notes)
The group consensus was the Futo was WOTF.
2007 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon
Might as well get to it. The nose has cassis, cigar tobacco and a streak of sour cherries that is very interesting. With air (I kept some in a glass all night), the sour cherries fade and some pencil shavings emerge. On the palate sour cherries and cassis. Great balance. This is not a blockbuster wine. Some compared it to Grand Cru Burgs. I thought more of a Graves style wine. Not sure any wine is "worth" the cost, but this deserves it reputation as an elite wine. Still young and kept improving all night long.
2007 Harlan Estate
This is very tight. It took a long time to open up and was still opening up four hours later. This may have been the most backward wine. The nose has cassis, black raspberries, some dust, some blueberries. Also some burnt rock notes (think a campfire). Great texture, supple yet masculine. Lots of black raspberry fruit. With air, some mint emerges on the finish. Firm tannins. Need a few more years before opening.
2007 Kapcsandy Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon (Grand Vin) State Lane Vineyard
This was sadly corked. I had opened it earlier in the day for air and did not detect any TCA. As soon as it hit the glass though... I wish I had brought a back up bottle as this would have been interesting. The chef ended up using it on his reduction sauce for one of our friends meat dishes (my wife and I are vegetarians) and they said it was awesome.
This was a surprise and one of the contenders for the groups WOTN. Certainly it beat out the Screaming Eagle and Harlan for almost everyone in this flight. The nose is dusty with cassis. This is somewhere in style between those two. Full bodies, yet a velvety texture. Oh so smooth to drink. Complex and starting to show great layering. At 5 years from vintage, this was more advanced than most although has a long life ahead. Flat out delicious and interesting. So much better than I remember earlier vintages.
Flight 4 (3 notes)
The Maybach was the groups WOTF.
2007 Seven Stones Cabernet Sauvignon
I had this on release and this has really improved since then. It almost didn't make the lineup and then got a few votes for WOTN. It is really deep on the nose and still emerging. Dusty with cassis and some camphor. full bodied with a lush velvety texture. Its texture was its best part and suggests to me it will get better in a few years. Really balanced. The palate has great fruit, but is not a monster. This wine was much more intense than I remember and has really developed, kind of like that late blooming athlete who turns into an all star after a few years as a utility player.
2007 Maybach Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Materium
This was a wine that did not make our lineup but I put it in anyway. And what a showing. A co-WOTN for many. In our demented world, it also got the QPR award. The nose has tobacco, dust, cassis, blueberry and a bit of charred wood. Soft and drinking great. Such great fruit, it is a bit sweeter than most. It might just be ripe fruit, but I suspect the tiniest amount of residual sugar. Doesn't matter, it is flat out delicious. Held up all night, and while it didn't necessarily improve it didn't suffer either.
2007 Pott Wine Cabernet Sauvignon Incubo
On any other night... This is really good, but for most, it trailed. Geez, it only got 95 LS points. It is also very backwards and, along with the Harlan, shows the greatest chance to improve I think. The nose is sweet with cassis, oak and an herbal note that is very nice. Of course, we wondered if that might be pot, but I think I decided on a sweet tarragon. This is young and massive. It was pop and poured and air might have been a good idea. It needs time. I look forward to trying this again in five years.
Flight 5 (3 notes)
The Ovid seemed to be the groups WOTF.
2007 Scarecrow Cabernet Sauvignon
The nose has cassis, blueberries, plums and iodine. It is tight at first, but we took a break and went to the rooftop bar for fresh air,s o it had plenty of time to develop. Bright acidity. This is not a bruiser and more on the elegant side. That is somewhat more challenging in this type of event, but it held its own. Plums and cassis on the palate, with some crushed/brunt rock. A slightly bitter (in a good way) finish was perfect with food.
2007 Hundred Acre Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Kayli Morgan
The nose has cassis and pencil lead. Some blueberries too. It is complex and smooth now despite being a massive wine. It is the most structured wine of the night, but has the fruit to hang on it. It improved all night long and the last sip was the best. My first time trying this and I hope I get a chance to savor it sometime.
2007 Ovid Red Wine
Another wine that exceeded every one's expectations and for some was the WOTN. The nose is dusty with cassis and plums. Also some smoked wood. This is complex and smooth, very smooth. It is soft on the palate, but still has fruit and balance. Slight tannins emerge with air. Great fruit and a long finish.
Flight 6 (3 notes)
The SHS was the groups WOTF.
2007 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select
I had heard this was an "off" vintage for SHS comparatively speaking. It was my WOTN and it was for many in the group. WOW. Best nose of the night. Cassis, blueberries, boysenberries, charred toast leaving a somewhat sweet perfumed lingering note. Just an awesome texture. Great fruit. Great balance. Slightly candied, in a really good way, fruit balanced by an underlying minerality that i just pin point balance. Made me stop and pay attention with every sip. A great showing.
2007 Abreu Cabernet Sauvignon Thorevilos
I debated if this was a 100 point wine for me. It wasn't as good as the Shafer Hillside, but yet. I was reminded of a flight about 10 years ago of the 89 Haut Brion and the 89 La Mission. I scored both 100 and the LMHB was better. This flight was similar. The Abreau is an amazing wine. Very classic to me. Cassis, pencil shavings, blueberries, and smoke. It is very young and needed some time in the glass to get to that lofty level. So smooth. Despite being a massive wine, it dances on your palate. A finish that lasts forever. Wow.
2009 Kongsgaard Cabernet Sauvignon
This was thrown in by the chef/host (he did not need to do that). It held its own. sure it is a bit younger. The nose has black cherries, cassis, licorice and cedar. Not a huge wine, it is in the middle ground. still young and in need of cellar time, it had enough vibrancy to compete for my palate's attention. A long sweet finish. This is young, delicious and tannic. Thank you.
Flight 7 (2 notes)
Red - Sweet/Dessert
2007 Sine Qua Non Grenache To The Rescue Vin de Paille
I am not always a fan of the SQN dessert wines, but this may have been the best I have had. After all this wine, I wondered if we really needed this, but it was awesome and for some the WOTN I think. The nose has raspberries, black raspberries, chocolate and slight raisin notes. While sweet, it is not even close to cloying or over bearing. Great black raspberry fruit on the palate. Unctuous yet juicy texture. Smooth as can be. Great.
2009 Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider
This was different and fun. Another addition by our chef/host. Golden orange in color. Lots of apples and baked apples on the nose. It is slightly sweet cider on the palate. Nice crispness to it. Fun for sure and welcome to autumn.
i know some will say this was excess. They are right. Some will say, you can't appreciate the wine in this type of event. They are partly right. Certainly an evening with any of these wines alone would give on a better understanding of the wine. But, more than the wine, this night was about friendship. There were so many hard belly laughs. Great conversations. Way too much great food. We shared our cellars with each other, but the wait staff, a couple of other patrons, the chef and kitchen staff in a way that couldn't be done at home. Truly a spread the joy evening. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that while I love wine, and find in fascinating, the best part is drinking it with friends. Finally, thanks to all who dug deep in their cellars, to JS and his restaurant staff for not just hosting but being a part of it, and to George C for getting it organized.
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