Tusk vertical - 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

Seven Hills restaurant, SF + Tusk party - with Cristal2000

Tasted September 14, 2019 by csimm1161 with 164 views


Thanks to Cristal2000 for another fun comparison tasting! Always great times.

Flight 1 (6 notes)

2016 Tusk Estates L'Orange USA, California, Napa Valley
98 points
A limited offering from Tusk with a TBD release/allocation date. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot. Blackberry, black cherry, dark plum skin, and grippy, bitter chocolate compete for center stage in this spunky, intense, and flavor-filled specimen. The mid carries an awesome weight, dropping with a firm, deliberate push of flavor before speeding off to a racy but opulent finish. A fun wine that has some serious business about it. The PV component provides a really compelling sense of speed and back end clamp that keeps the fruit in check and elevates its flavor profile overall. 98+ points.
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2015 Tusk Estates Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
99 points
The clear standout and undeniable best of the Tusk lineup was indeed the complex and sophisticated 2015 Tusk. As seemed to be the case for most everyone at the table, the progressive vintages represented marked improvement each year, with the 2015 dominating over its older siblings. Now whether this speaks to an inability to age or a year-to-year uptick in quality and production is somewhat of a question I suppose – I personally trust it’s the latter).

Specific notes of black cherry, huckleberry, and purple plum dominate. A nice zing of wild red raspberry and iron dart through the otherwise dark berry profile, making one suppose that the Pritchard Hill component of this wine is trying to make a statement here with its showy red fruit and volcanic earth notes. Finishes with a perfect equilibrium of richness and grip, with bitter chocolate and black raspberry seed notes popping up on the tail. The 2015 is more controlled and keenly focused than the curved 2012 and opulent 2014; it is also comparatively deeper and more concentrated than the bristly 2013.

I’m sure this wine can go a good distance, as it possesses great intensity and tension, but it’s spitting out enticing, vivacious flavors even in its current state. Drink now or hold depending on how you like to take down your modern cult Napa Cabs. There is a little more than a whisper of booze on the very tail (the only thing really keeping this from being a 100 point wine for me), so obviously giving it time to continue to integrate into its elements is most prudent. 99+ points.

Day 2: This was also served at the Tusk party. The samples served that night of the 2015 seemed much more lavish (more akin to the 2014 from the night before). The chocolate and vanilla wood influence dominated, making for a rich chocolate-covered-blackberry profile. Less of the Pritchard Hill terroir. Anyway, I’m not sure of the treatment of the wine before these glasses were offered and how long the wines had been opened before service. Interesting how the same wine can change based on a few seemingly small factors. Certainly delicious, this version of 2015 was more hedonistic and modern in execution seemingly due to the lavish barrel influence here.
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2014 Tusk Estates Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
98 points
Opulence is the word of the day here folks. Expressive and fruit-forward, the 2014 washes over the palate with velvety, lush black berry fruit. The hallmark slice of red fruit interjects briefly, but is almost immediately washed-over by the prevailing black core. Mid-palate is a gushing of more fruit and dark chocolate notes, completely enveloping the palate and providing a hedonistic, chewy texture that bulldozes the heaping core toward its ultimate crescendo. Finishes lavishly long, with a sultry, saliva-saturated mouthfeel that lasts for over a minute.

This 2014 is the most sumptuous and extravagant of the bunch. It had a similar profile as the 2012, but had MUCH more of EVERYTHING, with the volume turned up to 11. Next to the 2014, the 2012 seemed soft and almost flat at times. The “I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it” 2014 was bested only by the more chiseled and focused 2015, which held a bit more sophistication than the more party-ready 2014.

For my palate, the 2014 is firing off right now. The celebration is in full swing, the cops haven’t been called yet, and someone brought a shaved goat and threw it in the punchbowl…..yah, it’s that kind of party….

Drink now and over the next 5+ years.
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2013 Tusk Estates Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
96 points
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” shouted the stinging nettle Tusk as is pulled the sheets over its face, refusing to get up and go to school. Balled-up, Coiled-up, spikey, and with even more air, a bit bitter (especially on the finish), the 2013 has all the necessary components to be a stellar wine, but it ain’t showing nobody nuthin’ right now (Interesting how my 2013 Tusk voice somehow is from a toothless outhouse of a town somewhere in the middle of Arkansas – and I’m guessing the reason for the triple negatives and improper grammar has to do with its lack of formal education from refusing to attend school – so there’s that). Any hoo…..

Higher register than the other vintages, and certainly more standoff-ish. Hold this pulsating monster for another 3-5 years. Its core is solid, but its surface exterior distracts from the pleasure principles of this wine in its current state.

95-96 points on its best sips.
1 person found this helpful Comments (4)
2012 Tusk Estates Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
95 points
Plum-dominant, with accompanying flavors of black cherry and black/purple berry fruit; wild, macerated raspberry makes a brief appearance, but is pushed over by the earthy plum note that elbows its way through the entire profile from start to finish. More medium-bodied than the other vintages, but sharing a similar (yet much softer) profile with the 2014. Finishes plush and lush, if not a hair flat and fading. It has a little bit of chewiness on the tail, which helps to elongate the experience of a stretched back end, but it is primarily operating with a “medium all the way around” type of demeanor and drive currently.

Full disclosure, temperature was a little warm on service, which surely added to the flavors fanning out in a more horizontal fashion, but after cooling down a bit, it still didn’t show that type of traction and verve the others were able to exhibit. 2012 is an approachable and beautiful wine, if but more soft and feminine overall. With time, this will hopefully fill out even more, but it will likely not have the intensity of its younger siblings. Hold for another few years; it almost seems to be transitioning into a more nuanced and tertiary profile, but it’s not there quite yet.
2011 Tusk Estates Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
Blackberry, plum, black cherry pit, blackberry seed, underbrush, and some pyrazine and green peppercorn notes. Medium bodied (at least by Tusk standards), with a back end that tapered down into a more linear finish. A noble effort to be sure considering the challenges of the vintage. With extended air, it got a little plummy on the tail.

Overall a great cut here, with enough flavor expansion to keep you going back for another sip. Balance is in check as well. Drink or hold, as the fruit is showing some nuanced layers, if just in baby steps. The frame-to-flavor ratio is notable here. Would be even better with food. 94+ points.
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