Comments on my notes

(1,350 comments on 528 notes)

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Red
2019 Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
5/16/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
For me, who is still a little reluctant on the old school bordeaux wines, but loves restraint and composure with Napa fruit, this wine is hard to beat. Roses, violets, pencil shavings, cigar box, forest floor and wet stone show off a gorgeous bouquet. Focused fruit with excellent freshness and tension are brought to your palate with restraint and elegance in a firm and sophisticated package. Nothing disjointed or out of balance, this is a regal wine with fine grained tannins, excellent depth of flavor and a very long finish. This expressive vintage with the more structured and classic wine making make a great pairing. Awesome!
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/18/22, 2:46 PM - It ain't cheap, but these a no brainers for me.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    11/27/22, 7:53 AM - Hi B&B: these are $540 now direct, a huge jump from $450 for the 18 vintage. At that price, you can usually go retail and get them. I was not thrilled with the raise. Price aside, these are tremendous wines.

Red
2019 Realm Cellars The Bard Blair Edition Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
11/4/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
The interesting Blair version of Bard...an SVD, but shares the name "Bard" with the 7000 case blend and apparently this may be the only version of it. Not sure how they came up with that, but I was willing to roll with it to the tune of three bottles. Only about double the price, so my fiscal side was sleeping again, as tends to happen with wine. After that mess of an intro, I have to say, this is really good wine.

Right now the best part of this wine is the bouquet (aroma, nose..etc). It is soooo striking, with violets jumping out glass bringing with it blackberry pie, crushed rock, forest floor and deep, grainy earthy notes. That's a $500 napa nose right there - amazing. The nose led me to believe this was going to be rich and possibly extracted, but shockingly, it's restrained, with excellent balance a great purity, The tannins are powerful, but sweet and integrated, and the spine is powerful, bringing great overall structure. It is by no means a fruit bomb either, with really impressive savory notes to complement the deep purple expressive fruit. Powerful and somewhat tannic finish. Overall, this is really good and better than the "blend" Bard. I don't think it will keep up with the more established Realm SVD's over long periods of time, but for the next 5 years or so, this is going to be fabulous.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    11/5/22, 8:52 AM - DQ: It can definitely use a little time in the bottle. I've just gotten to the point where I just drink some as they come in, because there's no room!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    11/6/22, 7:35 AM - I feel your pain. Sometimes I give up hunting through the wine racks. I've always loved trying out new wines. Kind of like Xmas for me. So this time of year there are a lot of presents to open! :)

White
2020 Andremily White Cuvée Central Coast White Blend
11/2/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
Well, this is certainly interesting. Let's start with the really impressive bottle and label. This is done in a SQN style, and I find it quite distinctive, being large, attractive and unique. I looked on the back and it says 13.4% alcohol. Now, I've never had an Andremily wine that didn't taste like around 20%, so that caught my attention. I'm saying no way.

Pnp, and yeah, this probably needs a nice decant but you know, sometimes that is the way it goes. Deep dehydrated pee yellow in the glass. This is definitely not going to be Chablis. Impressive rich nose that says "I am going to be super dense". Creme brûlée dominates, with butterscotch, embers, lemon curd, white flowers and hints of oak. On the palate, ummm yeah, if this is 13.4% alc then the world is flat (and yes, in the world we live in I am sure many actually think that now). Nevertheless, it carries the weight well, with super ripe, fine grained and integrated sweet tannin and a massive core of fruit and stone that is waiting to unfurl. It doesn't come across heavy or overbearing, thanks to some acidity and lift, but this clearly isn't going to be the hyper focused cutting white to pair with your favorite fish. Lots of room to develop, but shows great length and is certainly as fabulous effort for Andremily's first white. It is texturally brilliant but also putting off a bunch of alcohol right now. Honestly, I find this more compelling than the reds.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    11/3/22, 12:54 PM - I was definitely in a mood for that note. Then again, I am not on here to make people happy. :) And straw would not have cut it my friend. This was dense dark yellow.

    This is definitely a wine to hold. It needs some time. I'd treat it similarly to their reds. If drinking, make sure it has a long decant and you'll want it very cold because it is so dense.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    11/3/22, 1:24 PM - It's clearly a strategy for SQN, their alums (Andremily) and family members (Fingers Crossed) to ruin our ability to store wine!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    11/4/22, 11:39 AM - Hi B&B: It was $85 direct. I didn't buy the reds in 2020. The style is just a bit too huge for me these days, and with the vintage figured I'd sit it out. Only so much room. Did take a flier on the white here obviously.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    11/4/22, 12:55 PM - Yeah, so far there are no 2020 Napa reds in my inventory. Even with Saxum, I am likely to only buy the 2019. I have an inventory problem anyway, so a questionable vintage just makes it an easier pass. It's fairly well known now that some of Paso also suffered from smoke, and even if not, it just wasn't as amazing a vintage as 18-19.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    11/4/22, 1:07 PM - Everyone always promotes the next vintage, but I do think 2021 is shaping up to be pretty great in Napa. Haven't heard much about Paso. 2022 is going to be a real challenge for some in Napa given the massive heat spike right before harvest, and then the rain afterward. Paso is usually more resilient to an extent, but I imagine they had some of the same issues with that heat wave. I think you'll have to be quite a bit more selective in 2022 overall.

Red
2010 Abreu Cappella Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
10/24/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
MJP graciously opened this bottle at lunch with our wives in Houston. I haven't had many Abreu wines, but this is definitely a testament to how well they age. Splash decanted, but really didn't have much air as we took it down quickly. The nose and the wine itself are very complex at this stage, with lots of tertiary flavors of mushrooms and tobacco weaved in effortlessly with dark, pure concentrated fruit. A very big wine, this is aging at a lovely, restrained pace, with massive depth of flavor, wonderful integration and a super long finish.. This should drink well for 15-20 more years. Decant if opening now. Thanks again to MJP for hosting!
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    10/24/22, 1:20 PM - Let me know what you find on availability and pricing. I'd definitely be interested in getting more familiar with Abreu.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    10/25/22, 9:15 AM - Certainly a fun visit. We'll have to get that BDX dinner done soon!

White
2020 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge Napa Valley
10/24/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Had this with MJP and wives in Houston. Very nice of MJP to host. I adore this wine, but was a bit more skeptical of the 2020 vintage. Long story short, it still manages to pull the concentration and acidity together and make a really terrific chard, but it's not quite up there with 18 or 19 from recent memory. Very pure, with great depth and a bit of a cutting acidic edge, it still needs time to integrate the oak and other elements, but should be singing in a few years. Definitely decant this white.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    10/24/22, 1:06 PM - Hey MJP: bringing this was the easy part! Thanks for hosting, making food and opening two great bottles. For Pappas, I assume you're referring to reviewing the wines we had there? The Dauvvissat would probably have been right up your alley!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    10/24/22, 1:23 PM - The service was exceptional. We had no less than 5 people waiting on us at once. The food was also great, but perhaps didn't stand out as much as the service. Loved the ambiance. We met a couple Somms, can't remember their names offhand.

    That was a terrific restaurant recommendation. Thanks.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    10/25/22, 7:52 AM - They only had one bottle left. I asked...

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    10/25/22, 8:26 AM - I mean they do have another location in downtown Houston that has it on the list. So perhaps they have some remaining...

Red
2012 Hourglass Cabernet Franc Blueline Napa Valley
10/24/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
Another bottle generously opened by MJP when we visited him in Houston. This was a last min pull, and could have used a decant. That alone surprised me, because I just didn't expect a 10 yr old Cab Franc from Hourglass to be so age worthy. While this wasn't yet singing, it had tremendous energy, with a pure and youthful profile that showed off really focused, expressive red fruit and an herbal complexity that elevated the experience. Lighter on its feet than the Abreu had alongside, this wine was about the energy for me. Another hour in the decanter and I suspect it would have been singing. Great find MJP!
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    10/24/22, 1:19 PM - We really enjoyed the visit. Thanks so much for doing all the heavy lifting with food, stemware, wine etc. Great meeting you both and we hope to return the favor sometime when you come to CA.

Red
2019 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Pauillac Red Bordeaux Blend
9/21/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Gorgeous translucent purple in the glass, with aromas of creme de cassis, asian spices, violets, menthol and dank earth. Muscular, taut and impressive, this shines with rich and dense layers of dark fruit combined with excellent precision. All the earth and mineral driven components are there, along with huge, fine grained but gripping tannins that keep the flavor somewhat at bay. Super long finish. Had this PnP, and you can tell it's going to be shut down with some air. Needs to rest, but this will be excellent.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    9/22/22, 9:52 AM - Thanks. I absolutely adore the 19 vintage from Bordeaux. This was fabulous!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    9/22/22, 3:33 PM - I'm doing it just for you LIOF.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    9/22/22, 8:10 PM - I am totally polarized by BDX. I've had many older versions in great vintages I hate, like literally dirt water with lots of acidity. And then 2019 came around and I love this vintage. So I'm not sure what to make of it all, but certainly a big vertical would help set me straight. Don't get any ideas however - I don't give it up on the first date.

Red
2018 Château Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Red Bordeaux Blend
9/16/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Doubled decanted about 3 hours before dinner. Thankfully, the wine never shut down and seemed to be at its sweet spot with about 4 hours of air. The 18 didn't quite have the opulent flare of the 19 I had a couple weeks ago, but it was still fantastic.

Aromas of creme de cassis, menthol, tobacco, violets and fragrant earth. This is big but firm, with regal tannins and prominent energetic layers of fruit. It doesn't fill up the mid palate like a similar Napa Cab might, but stays totally composed and tight knit, with building complexity and a super long finish. Clearly this was an infant, but that is really how I enjoy my wines. Total class in a bottle.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    9/16/22, 11:42 AM - Definitely looking forward to that event!

Red
2019 Vieux Château Certan Pomerol Red Bordeaux Blend
6/4/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Starts with one of the most amazing bouquets I can remember on a BDX wine. Glorious creme de cassis and dark chocolate with soaring floral aromas, laced with menthol, tobacco and herbs. Tremendously pure and focused, it's super firm, with Mt Everest level tannins and insane precision. If you catch it just at the right time, the fruit is a knockout, but blink and the tannins have sucked that enjoyment away. I guess if you could ever say a wine of this quality from BDX is forward than this has a hint of that opulence, but everything is in perfect balance and it will be super long lived. Love it, but of course it needs at least a decade or so to come around.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/5/22, 7:37 AM - Lite: Thanks for the suggestions. I already have a love/hate relationship with BDX, so no telling how long this little run will last, but I have appreciated the right bank's lack of "funk". You have to really get used to and enjoy those super drying tannins. I understand why all BDX drinkers seem to say wines are too young - because otherwise they are just a shut down wall of tannin!

    Anyway, I'm on a little exploration and perhaps I've gone a little deep with heavy hitters like VCC, Cheval Blanc, Pavie, etc. Good to have some more moderate priced suggestions. Cheers!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    9/16/22, 7:36 AM - If you're opening the 19, my experience would suggest PnP is best. The air tended to shut things down. It's almost like you need to PnP, judge it, and then decide, but that is hard given the timing of drinking the wine.

Red
2019 Andremily Syrah G2 Vineyard Paso Robles Willow Creek District
Goo, what a colossal mess of a wine. I had this blind with 19 Saxum G2, 19 Turtle Rock G2 and 19 Paul Lato Il Padrino and for all 6 of us it was dead last. As a matter of fact I poured out what was left in my glass. Super disappointed, as I have had much better experiences with other Andremily wines.

Basically this was a massive vanilla, oak and sugar bomb that got worse the longer it was open. No acidity, extremely heavy, tasted like the Caymus of rhones, but even worse. Not much more to say. Disappointed to say the least. Won't rate but it was essentially undrinkable.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    3/21/22, 10:38 PM - Yeah, I've got two more bottles. I'd love to think this will improve. Sure hope so. The main issue is there's no acidity to it, so it makes it hard to see improvement. Andremily wines always super extracted, so even at their best they are sweet and rich. The texture is always what's really special. This one just lost the guideposts.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    3/22/22, 7:46 AM - DQ: I'd definitely take that approach. Who knows - maybe it will come together. I mean it will always be insanely modern, extracted and sweet, but that is to be expected. I still have about 3/4 of a bottle from the tasting. I will see if anything good has happened to it.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    3/24/22, 7:42 AM - Sadly it was still a vanilla, oak and sugar smoothie. I hope you have better luck, but I can pretty much guarantee you the TR G2 will smoke the Andremily, even if it improves. :)

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    3/24/22, 1:25 PM - Sure. I received it about a week prior to opening (maybe week and a half). It sat in my cellar at 54 degrees. All the wines were opened approximately 4 hours before serving, double decanted, back to the bottle and back to the cellar. Right before consumption they were all poured into decanters (done by my daughter so it was truly blind). Service began around 55 degrees and warmed up over time.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    3/24/22, 4:56 PM - No doubt. Andremily wines are always super ripe, sweet and pushing the line on extraction, but I was expecting a healthy competition, especially from this vineyard source. Interestingly, Saxum used to be more in this style, but the last few years they've really moderated the ripeness.

    I've had other wines from them, like EABA, that is wild early and gets better, so that is definitely possible here. I don't think I will ever like the style as much as Saxum/Turtle Rock based on my palate, but I've never shied away from fruit. It's the vanilla and oak that really get me these days.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/6/22, 8:12 PM - Hi B&B: I have had them all now. The G2 was the only one that was discombobulated, so it may have just been that bottle. Or perhaps because it was next to some fantastic wines it showed poorly. The Mourvèdre was far more contained and focused, and the regular Syrah was still super extracted and rich, but the texture, depth of flavor and opulence wasn’t disturbed by huge vanilla and oak. These are massive, extracted, plush and hedonistic wines at their best, so there’s not much room when things go a bit sideways. Not really my style anymore, but can be very good.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/6/22, 8:36 PM - The Mouvedre is probably their best wine. Unless you don't like that profile, I would start there.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/7/22, 11:01 PM - B&B: You'll find pricing has flatlined a bit with the Andremily Syrah. It's $110 on the list, and you can often get it for $120 or so retail. Same with the Mouvedre really. So you aren't doing too badly just picking it up aftermarket.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    9/4/22, 9:45 AM - DQ: Thanks for the update. I was hoping it was bottle shock or some other outlier issue, since I generally enjoy Andremily, even if it is a bit sweet for my tastes. One thing I am finding is I buy too many different wines, so in Paso/SB I've cut it down to Saxum, Fingers Crossed, TR (at times) and Next of Kyn. Napa is harder. No room left!

Red
2019 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac Red Bordeaux Blend
8/25/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Had PnP. Absolutely heroic nose, with loads of creme de cassis, explosive floral notes, scorched earth, cigar box and tilled soil. Reminded me of Napa's Las Piedras. Uber refined palate, with ripe, powerful and integrated tannins, a silky mouthfeel and wonderfully layered black and blue fruit. This is certainly opulent for Bordeaux, but it is so incredibly well done, with terrific balance and plenty of lift from the acidity. The elegance and refinement are off the charts, as is the ridiculously long finish. As one critic would say, this is pure Haute Couture. My general sense is either get at it right now without a decant, or wait 7+ years.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/26/22, 8:55 AM - Without a doubt the most "napa like" BDX I have had. If it was blind on the aromas I would have never guessed BDX, but of course the palate gives it away with the tannin profile.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/30/22, 11:53 AM - So this is where I get stalled on BDX. I had an 09 Chateau Malescot St Exupery Margaux and 10 Duhart-Milon over the weekend. The Malescot was essentially undrinkable and the DM was barely better. Just high toned, funky white peppery, boring juice. Not sure if that is what all these BDX wines will become in time, or if somehow things have just changed that much...or if despite good scores, those just are a totally different profile from the start?

Red
2016 Realm Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Oakville
4/13/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Super complex nose - initially displayed lots of violets and floral, with licorice, black cherry, blueberries, camphor, forest floor and baking spices. Over the course of about ten hours, it developed this incredibly fun and distinctive note of Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum and cotton candy. Totally unique and like nothing I've really ever experienced.

On the pallet, this is medium to full bodied with mostly blue fruit and solid depth of flavor. It's rich, taut, has great balance with good acid levels. The tannins are quite prominent but well integrated, and it finishes long and pure. The only place I felt this was lacking a bit was the mid pallet, and that may come around with time in the bottle. It is certainly still a baby.

Had next to a 2016 Vice Versa BBS LPV, which was a bit better in that it just had more of everything. It's also $115 more a bottle direct.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/27/22, 3:17 PM - At last check, they were $250.

Red
2019 Château Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Red Bordeaux Blend
8/20/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
Had this alongside a 2019 Ausone. While the Ausone showed best at PnP, the Mouton hit its stride around hour 3 in the decanter. There was a magical window at that point, and then by hour 6 it had completely shutdown.

A fabulous vintage for this wine. Displayed soaring aromas of creme de cassis, white flowers, sweet tobacco, asian spices and wet stone. For a Bordeaux, this is very opulent, with ripe tannins that are almost immediately hemmed in by significant structure and excellent levels of acidity. For the brief time when the fruit was allowed to come out and play, this was spectacular, showing insane purity and incredible persistence as it danced around on the palate. Even in a more showy vintage, the sophistication, elegance and polish set it apart from nearly all other wines. Absolutely loved it, but it's going to be a challenge to find the right drinking window if you kill this baby.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/20/22, 1:43 PM - Thanks WBW. It was fun, that's for sure!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/20/22, 6:10 PM - Nick: I'm all about hurting feelings on CT. :) It was quite an experiment with the wines so young. I am still not 100% sold on heavy BDX buying, but there are a number of gems out there. This was one of them. It's really a challenge to figure out how to open and decant them...not only with super young vintages, but with most. That part can be annoying, because you can just waste a bottle pretty easily.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/20/22, 6:12 PM - Lite: I was surprised by the opulence of both these wines. It certainly is more compelling than the overly structured, acidic and downright austere vintages that I am familiar with from previous failed attempts at enjoying BDX.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/21/22, 7:57 AM - Thanks for the advice Hendmo. I was definitely aware these wines were too young, but that was part of the fun!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/22/22, 8:58 AM - I am old hat with Napa cabs, a bit newer to the scene with BDX. These wines are a lot more tricky to get in the right spot. I tend to prefer energy and depth of fruit over old and perfectly integrated, so for my palate taking a shot early is half the fun. I guess it just depends on what you like, but I will always try to get in a taste before they close down. Cheers!

White
2020 Y de Yquem Bordeaux Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend
8/20/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
First time with this wine. Super interesting, as it combines a creamy, rich and provocative flavor profile with streaks of stark mineral driven flavors in a sophisticated, yet citrus driven package. That meshing of contrasting styles makes it one of the better overall wines I have tasted with these varietals.

Aromas of lemon zest, apricots, orange rind, pears, white flowers, wet stone and crushed rock. Palate is at once firm and expressive, showing off wonderfully pure and concentrated flavors with serious depth of flavor. Big mid palate brings it to a higher level. Nice mineral driven streak, showing hints of savory notions as it progresses to a very long finish. Excellent.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/21/22, 7:58 AM - Not getting any younger!

Red
2018 Memento Mori Cabernet Sauvignon Las Piedras Napa Valley
Was fortunate to sample many of the 2018 wines from barrel from Memento Mori. The broad takeaway is WOW, these are going to be stunning. 2018 seems to be similar to the quality and characteristics of 2016, which is just fantastic.

MM has added two blocks of Vine Hill Ranch to their lineup in this vintage (and 2017), and I believe it will not only be added to the blend, but also used as an SVD. Tasting those two blocks, they are extremely different from each other and show how amazingly unique each block in the same vineyard can be. The first sample was black, deep, rich and showed scorched earth elements similar to LPV. It was lights out. Just awesome. The second sample was way higher toned and hit you right in the face. Fruit seemed redder, the profile was more acidic and rode way higher on the pallet. Reminded me much more of a VHR wine. It will be interesting to see how they blend these together. It is very promising. 95-98.

The 2018 Dr Crane was again for me the star of the show. Shows that wonderful and amazing nose of blueberry compote, scorched earth and white flowers that is so intoxicating. Already expressive and opulent on the pallet, it is super concentrated, round, dense and chock full of pure fruit backed by lots of mineral driven and wet stone flavors. This is killer. 98-100

The 2018 LPV was super dense, dark and black in the glass. Scorched earth, embers, mineral driven flavors and great blackberry fruit throughout. Dense and drying on the pallet at the moment. Big structure and quite long. Super young, but tons of promise. 96-98
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/16/22, 4:12 PM - For the last vintage, they were all $225.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/16/22, 5:46 PM - I'd go with the SVD's, probably in the order of Crane, LPV and then VHR. But I also can't recommend you buy 2020 vintage, if that is what you are contemplating.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/16/22, 6:05 PM - Exactly zero from Napa other than MacDonald if they release one. A few here and there from Paso and Santa Barbara, plus Sonoma and RRV.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/16/22, 8:45 PM - I haven't. When I was at L'Aventure last year, Chloe was luke warm on the vintage, saying it would be good but not near 18 or 19. I appreciated the honestly. I am sure most will make a decent wine, but it will be very hard to compare vs 19.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/16/22, 9:01 PM - If Jeb doesn't give it 100, it's shit. Lol. That dude inflates scores like no one else, but I do enjoy his notes.

Red
2019 Realm Cellars The Bard Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
8/2/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
This wine is way better than it has any right to be, especially considering the numerous vineyards involved in the blend and the 7000+ cases being made. Starts with a rich and powerfully expressive nose of creme de cassis and violets. Really true to vintage, this is upfront and lovely, with deeply concentrated dark fruit that is expansive and showing very well right out of the chute. Showing a suave and seamless mouthfeel, with a silky texture and rounded edges, this wine will seduce you into downing the bottle before you know it. Unlike the 18 edition that clearly needs some time, this wine is ready to go with a little bit of air. Pretty great, and a touch above the 18 for me.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/3/22, 7:22 AM - I've never really known the Bard to shutdown. Sometimes it isn't in a good spot to drink for a while after release, but it's not an ultra serious brick house wine that has that type of slumber. This 2019 edition is ready to go already with a little air, and I wouldn't hesitate to open it.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/3/22, 3:42 PM - Hi Mark - I hear you. I've floated between looking for those QPR "deals" and trying to buy less overall, but the absolute best wines regardless of the price over the years. The longer I've been around Napa, the more jaded I've become on pricing. There's a ton of collusion and pressure to raise each year. The vast majority of $200 or now $300 bottles won't be as good as this 7000 case blend by Realm. But when you have a superstar wine, it makes this Realm seem like crap by comparison. :) There's no winning in this game.

    All that said, I think this wine is exactly what is supposed to be: a high production, high profit wine for Realm that hits above its weight and price point and will satisfy the vast majority of cab buyers.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/3/22, 4:38 PM - You don't get those invites? What a shame. :) Kidding. Really, it's the land owners and wineries that have been in Napa for decades that make out like bandits. The new entrants are usually losing money, some just to have a label and wine to show their friends. The billionaire class. Napa being adult Disneyland certainly doesn't help things for the Napa aficionado looking for reasonable prices and high quality.

    What personally offends me is when, without naming names, wineries release a 2020 wine, raise the price and then lie about when the grapes were picked or in some amazing cases, don't mention it at all and compare the vintage to 2016! They really do take us for fools at times.

    I guess the smart money is moving towards Paso. I buy less Napa these days, more French, but that ain't cheap either. Now it's more about supporting the people I like who also happen to make amazing wine.

    But hey, who am I to complain? This isn't a rough life drinking these wines and going the places they take you.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/3/22, 5:17 PM - No doubt. There's a very small fraction of the wine universe that buys expensive wine...and I mean very small fraction. It's why Napa can't produce more wine and sell it unless they draw in the international crowd. Realm is making some headway there, but generally it's only names like Screaming Eagle, Harlan and Opus One that are known throughout the world.

    Most money in wine is made at the $10-30 price point. Meiomi was bought by Constellation because they are a cash machine, churning out and selling over 1 million cases a year. I think they sold for over $300 million, which is way more than most Napa wineries are worth. The average consumer of wine opens it within 2 days, which is why they oxidize and add sugar. All those vines in the central valley of CA? Where the bunnies, rubber tires and arsenic show up in the harvest? Yep, that's Meiomi. There's no hand picking grapes when you make a million cases. Additives galore, but you are absolutely right in that the average person wouldn't really be able to tell the difference. Give them enough sugar and sweetness and they are happy. That's where the money is at, even if it's super disturbing to those of us very into wine.

    Even a winery like Realm needs a high production money maker, and that's Bard. Vice Versa is now copying that model with "Spinning Plates". You start with the best possible wine you can blend, losing money on it, and then once it gets critical acclaim and traction you blend in less expensive grapes and make more.

    Ah...wine. Such a love/hate relationship.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/3/22, 8:16 PM - Lol. You guys crack me up! We all have so many hard and fast opinions on wine and love to rant about it all. It's part of what makes wine fun. Naturally we are all entitled, spoiled...you name it. That's what comes from people spending $300 on a bottle of wine. Opinions are not in short supply.

    Let me pile on in LIOF format:

    1. VV has lost money, but they aren't now. When you source you have to be able to sell the bottle for a price that is greater than production cost. That usually takes time, but is definitely possible. When you buy the land at $1mm a planted acre, you better have a lot of cash flow and hope the land gains value because the wine isn't going to cover it.

    2. Harlan has had their land for like 40 years. They mint money. They are also releasing a 2020 at all their properties and raising their price. That lost me.

    3. Wine has become crazy popular but most people still don't know anything about it. When we meet new friends, we will often blind wine at different price points to see what they think. The sweeter the better for most. Now, if we take away the blind and spend time going side by side and describing why one wine is a higher quality than the other, they tend to catch on. It's a process for everyone, but most never get a chance to experience it. And many don't give a crap either.

    4. LIOF - you have like 6000 bottles of high end wine. You buy everything!

    5. The wine business isn't easy, and I don't begrudge those who endeavor into it profits. There's a difference between running a good business and making good money and gouging people. There are very few wineries that don't have to distribute their wines to retailers, and where I can't find them list price or cheaper, so that's really the measure of a good DTC model. Otherwise, why pay $300 when they sell it to a retailer for $150 and you pay $300 or less from a local store? No loyalty in that model.

    6. Alex is unlikely to break the pattern of modest price increases, since his cost of grapes is so low and he really believes in keeping the price reasonable for his loyal base of clients.

    Done! Sorry!

Red
2019 Turtle Rock G2 Paso Robles Syrah Blend, Syrah
3/10/2022 - csimm1161 wrote:
100 points
If you’ve been on a quest for an awesomesauce inoculation of huckleberry Hubba Bubba mainlined into your flavor muzzle, the Turtle Rock G2 may very well be the Forever 27 yurple drank syzzurp that’ll check all your new-world Rhone magic juice boxes. Smoked brisket, camphor, and green and black peppercorns provide the fuse for the fruit cannon that hurtles blueberry, blackberry, olallieberry, elderberry, gooseberry…whateverberry… all in a texturally saturated and vibrant kaboom that straddles richness and oomph with a super stylish and suave mouthfeel. It’s a for-reals serious and also fiendingly foxy Black Swan kind of experience, with a glide that manages to sail along the palate while simultaneously dropping deep into the mid without pausing too long to trigger any sort of overly dense stall. This beauty of a bacon-stuffed Syrah pie ultimately culminates on the back end in a gripping band of fruit, charcuterie, and creosote.

The key to all of this really coming together in proper fashion lies especially in the finish: focused and off-dry so as to proportionally apply the perfectly weighted balance and direction to the final crescendo, but also with an energetic push of ripe fruit to keep the tail wagging for over a minute. The silky tannin management here is also at 1,000-thread-count, adding to the refinement of the profile and delivery.

If you think there is no Van Halen without David Lee Roth, no Robocop without Paul Verhoeven, no Murtaugh without Riggs, or no Thing 1 without Thing 2, then you’ll also find true that there can be no Syrah without the Turtle Rock G2. It is a must for anyone who is looking for Paso Rhone absolution juice, offering 007 sophistication with Mr. Rogers merriment.

Find your Pikachu happy place and crack the crown on this disco berryade now, or better yet, hold a few years and brace for a hundo numeric around 2025+. 98-100 points.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    3/10/22, 4:31 PM - Just a note that the Saxum G2 is grenache dominant (53%) with only 3% Syrah vs the TR G2 which is predominantly syrah, so that comparo may not lineup perfectly. Now Andremily has a 19 G2 that is mostly syrah, so a TR v Andremily contest would be very interesting.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    8/1/22, 10:20 AM - I haven't had the 2020, and while I don't think Paso will be nearly as bad off as Napa, I am still being very hesitant. I managed to avoid buying 2020 Saxum since they were also releasing 2019 same time for certain bottles, but given TR's pricing, it's probably not a huge issue to take a flyer. That said, I am not in the club, since I don't generally join clubs. I am also not really buying Andremily any longer. I guess I am buying Fingers Crossed and probably Next of Kyn to stay on the list, but that's about it.

White
2019 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru La Forest Chardonnay
7/24/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
This is a chablis for the purists, and damn if it isn't special. Green apples, peaches, citrus white flowers and wet stone highlight a really expressive and intoxicating nose. The palate displays insane focus, purity and cut, with unreal levels of mineral driven flavors and fabulous acidity. While it gets right to the line of being austere, it has just enough richness to avoid going over the edge and the finish is ridiculously long. I liken this to a white mineral laser shooting right down your throat, but somehow it's super enjoyable.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    7/25/22, 7:12 PM - I'm a fan, that is for sure. I find it kind of funny where others think this is too rich and concentrated...true purists, because if this had more acidity and cut, I think I'd be bleeding. :)

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    7/26/22, 5:37 PM - MJP: I will be in Houston from Oct 20-23. Hopefully somehow we can manage to meet up for wine during that time. That Chris Shepard festival is a 3 day deal, but I'm sure there will be some opportunities.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    7/29/22, 9:17 AM - "Beloved Astros" - lol. I could start in on you know, the integrity of your team, but I will refrain...

    Looks like we will be at the Houstonian. Perhaps we can make a dinner happen.

Red
2018 Carter Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon The O.G. Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Oakville
7/22/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
Double decant with about 2 hours of air before consumption. Took a sip at PnP at it needed a little time. Right around hours 4 and 5 it hit its peak and then dropped off from there.

Very typical Mike Smith wine, with beautiful smooth contours, a silky mouthfeel, extracted pure fruit and essentially hedonism captured in a glass. There's a bit of oak left to integrate, but otherwise I would say this is very close to its peak drinking window. As usual with these wines, this is all about the upfront gorgeous fruit. You aren't going to get a lot of complexity or age worthiness, and that was evident as the hours passed and the fruit got thinner and more bitter, without the underlying structure to support it. As this wine ages and the fruit recedes, I wouldn't count on compelling secondary and tertiary flavors to emerge.

When I was newer to wine and Napa, this was the benchmark style for my palate. Over time I've gravitated to more well balanced and structured wines, but still really enjoy these from time to time for the amazing pure fruit and seamless quality.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    7/24/22, 6:57 PM - Thanks. I am well aware that the vast majority of folks on CT are looking for glowing reviews of wines they own and like, which I can appreciate. But for the site to add value, I do think we need to call a spade a spade. 5 years ago this was my go to wine. It is funny how things change the more wine you drink.

Red
2018 Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard Paso Robles Willow Creek District
6/7/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
My first ever wine list was Saxum (2004 vintage), back when it was $44 a bottle and that was very expensive for me! As good as it was back then, it's really turned things up a notch the past few vintages, scaling back the extraction and making some epically fresh and balanced wines.

This Booker smells amazing, with fresh blackberries, crushed flowers, charcuterie, black licorice and hints of smoked meat. The palate is energetic and spicy, with wonderfully expressive black fruit and a tremendous suave mouthfeel. Showing good levels of acidity and relatively strong, integrated tannins, it's still a baby, but I find it fun and enjoyable now with a long decant. Fantastic length on the finish.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/8/22, 8:18 AM - WBW: Thanks! Glad to hear some of these notes are helpful. Hard to go wrong with Saxum. Still the best IMO after all these years. Cheers!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/29/22, 3:21 PM - B&B: I did see the huge price move, at least on the current vintage release. From $98 to $132, which is nearly 35%. Now that's some serious inflation! The held back vintage is up from $145 to $156, which obviously isn't near the same increase, but still expensive.

    On this release, there's no doubt I will target the 2019's since that vintage is just epic. Not as excited about 2020, so may hold back with that price move. I generally think this makes Turtle Rock look a hell of a lot better on a QPR basis, as well as some others. I love Saxum, but I'll likely buy less now, at least in lesser vintages. Obviously relative to Napa, it's still a "deal".

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/29/22, 4:04 PM - It remains to be seen if Saxum will be giving cover to others, like Torrin, L'Aventure etc to also raise their price. We shall see.

    It's funny, I have a friend who didn't buy Saxum for years and was still able to get a decent allocation recently. They have this long wait list, probably because they don't seem to kick people off very quickly. I've gone up and down in my purchases over the years, but it hasn't affected me too much.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    7/19/22, 9:38 PM - I had 4 750ml allocated and 1 mag. Didn't buy the mag however.

Red
2019 Carter Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon La Verdad Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard Napa Valley
6/28/2022 - #1Winelover wrote:
This is not a tasting note -- it's a question for this forum:
Are you purchasing the 2020 Carter and Myriad lineups that are coming out shortly? I don't know what to do as most Vintners are not releasing wines from the same vineyards. Not just because of the Glass Fires, but because of the haze over the valley for several months.

Any feedback would be appreciated. I did load up on 2019 in general assuming that nobody would be releasing 2020, but here they come!
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/28/22, 4:32 PM - Nope, not a chance. :)

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/29/22, 8:00 AM - I guarantee you these 2020's will show up in the aftermarket for a lot less. I already find good vintages of Carter for less (a lot less at that). And with perhaps the exception of Myriad Elysian, none have a wait.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/29/22, 9:18 AM - I personally think it's a massive slap in the face to their client base to the price by 15% in a year when they probably shouldn't be releasing a wine. But that's just me. With Carter, you may as well wait till next year, because they can't sell all their wine anyway. I remember many vintages back, probably 2016, when at least Verdad was a challenge to get unless you were right on top of it. Now, it's just never an issue.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/30/22, 11:34 AM - My response to that would be which fire? There we fires around the valley most of the year, with smoke in the air covering the valley long before the Complex Fire in August. And let's be honest - Carter lets their grapes hang about as long as anyone, and while I am not calling Mark a liar, I'd love to see some evidence that the grapes were harvested pre-Complex Fire. Other wineries like Schrader discarded their 2020's from the same general sources.

    Anyway, to each their own, but it's hard to imagine a super extracted rich wine like Carter, which is usually left to ripen longer than most other wines, was actually picked super early in 2020. I know Russell Bevan has various "methods" of trying to hide the taint or smoke effect, but not sure who would want to chance it and pay $225 for the privilege.

    Just my 2c. :)

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    7/1/22, 6:28 PM - I actually have the exact same situation. Mac is the only 2020 I will buy, and only because they’ve earned that right with their pricing.

Red
2012 Promontory Red Wine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
5/19/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Had this at the winery. In a great drinking window. Showing amazing pure expressive fruit, highlighted by notes of black forest cake, cassis fruit, crushed rock, underbrush and tilled soil. Totally enveloping on the palate, I didn't realize a Promontory wine could show such rounded juicy fruit enjoyment. While this will never be confused with a To Kalon wine, it's very generous with serious depth of flavor that is complimented with a huge mineral driven streak. Super pure and showing great layers of flavor, this still has the firm tannic backbone and fresh acidity to last for another decade or two. Finish is long and satisfying. In a perfect place to drink now for me.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/28/22, 4:32 PM - No regrets at all. It's in a great place. I'd give it a couple hours of air. Cheers!

Red
2019 Bevan Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard St. Helena
6/16/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
I think it goes without saying that if you are looking for bright acidity, restraint and nuance, Bevan is not your wine. Move right along. If you are into these wines, you know they are a meal unto themselves and loaded up with massive amounts of just about everything.

Russell and Dr. Crane together equal a wild, opulent flavor explosion. Where purely the quality of fruit is concerned, it's hard to beat Dr. Crane, and Russell sucks every last morsel of juicy goodness into this bottle of wine. As usual, the refined, integrated tannins and suave mouthfeel are a hallmark of this iron fist in a velvet glove styled cabernet. I feel like at times there is just too much coffee and wood on these wines, but right at this very moment those elements are in the background and it's allowing the exceptional blueberry fruit and violets to shine through with ever expanding depth of flavor and a huge finish. Enjoy this wine in the next 5-10 years, because it's all about the fruit, and that fruit is amazing.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/17/22, 7:46 AM - Yeah, from what I know of your "style", Bevan is definitely not it! I've bought less and less of these monsters over the years, as they lack the overall balance and complexity of higher end wines, but for pure full throttle fruit overload, they are hard to beat. Bevan/Mike Smith/Kirk Venge and the wines they make all fall into this category. I do have to say that Bevan hasn't raised their price since I've been buying them (12 vintage), so what used to be an expensive wine is now a relative "deal" in Napa terms.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/24/22, 7:39 AM - WL: I'd give it a couple hours of air, but otherwise I think it's ready to try. Obviously young and explosive, but isn't that the whole idea with Bevan wines?

Red
2016 Vine Hill Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon VHR Oakville
6/13/2022 - MJP Hou TX Likes this wine:
100 points
This bottle of 2016 VHR was absolutely singing while sitting river side along the Roaring Fork. Each day of our family vacation capped off with special glass of wine to reflect upon the day. After 24 hrs of slow ox in the bottle this wine was perfect in every way. No reason to be concerned that 16 might not reach the same heights of the first year. I can easily say all is well.

Consumed along side 18 Continuum & 19 Cedric Bouchard Val Vilaine.

Other wines of the week.
13 Kapcsandy Roberta's Reserve
18 Accendo
19 Lail Georgia
16 Under the Wire Alder Springs
20 Louis Latour Pouilly Fuisse
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/16/22, 2:10 PM - Sounds like a fun trip! Happy to hear the 16 VHR is still rolling.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/16/22, 4:47 PM - So Continuum was what, $500 in a local Aspen store? :)

    Yep, I know the joys and expense of traveling with 3 kids. Nice when you are there, but the travel is no bueno.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/16/22, 8:14 PM - So how is it you got an SUV in Aspen for $350/wk and I have to pay damn near $1000/wk for a smaller ride in McCall Idaho? You are living a charmed life my friend. $345 is pricey for the wine, but given what you saved on the rental car, it's like getting it free! :)

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/16/22, 9:01 PM - The rental is actually out of Boise. The rental car market has just gone insane. I was only able to keep the cost at this level by using a corporate discount.

    I was in Vail a few years ago and it was like being in London or NYC. I hear Aspen is even more expensive. Fun when you have to feed 5! But hey, YOLO!

    I expect to be in Houston with my wife for that Chris Shepard 3-day festival I believe in Oct. Hopefully we will get a chance to meet up and drink some wine!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/17/22, 7:48 AM - MJP: Sounds great. I'll get in touch once I have more information on our schedule. With kids and school etc, I am sure it will be compressed, but hopefully we can pull off as much as possible.

Red
2019 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Vine Hill Ranch Oakville
6/3/2022 - bsumoba Likes this wine:
98 points
Super young. Hold and wait 5 years or try now be amazed at the incredible nose on this wine. After about 4 hours of air, this had the nose of bing cherries, dark plums, and baking spices. Great acidity and tannins that are big and plush, almost velvety. On the palate, there is a fruit explosion of red fruits with dollops of reduced strawberries and jam. Maybe a tad on the fruity side but I am hoping with time it will shed some of that fruit and expose some secondary flavors. This will need some cellar time, but it is well balanced and in its youth, still a pleasure to drink with some air and nose is intoxicating. In 5+ years, this is going to be a phenomenal wine, maybe even a perfect wine.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/3/22, 3:56 PM - Nice note! This is where MJP and I diverge - I give the edge to the 19, but love them both as well. Both are fickle in their youth and you can catch them in bad moments, but certainly there's a ton of upside ahead. Too bad AB just can't seem to catch on. There's a lot of good wine being produced there.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/3/22, 5:24 PM - Ah yes, I heard CSIMM was throwing a rager at his place. Sad to miss it - living in SOCAL does have limitations. Be sure to raid his cellar. :)

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/3/22, 6:08 PM - What CSIMM didn't mention is the wine I brought was in the cellar, and he tried to keep me out!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/4/22, 8:31 AM - I don't remember much discussion on why block 2 wasn't included, but perhaps CSIMM does.

    With regard to 18/19 AB, I definitely understand why BDX lovers would enjoy 18 more. It certainly has the massive, drying finish that reminds me of the BDX style. I also think the vintage plays a role along with the clone difference, since 19 was just way more opulent and fruit driven.

Red
2016 Vieux Château Certan Pomerol Red Bordeaux Blend
5/29/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
If the recent 16 La Fleur-Petrus I had was painfully young, then this is insanely young. The nose is fantastic, with fresh baked cherries, white flowers, spice box, tobacco and fresh herbs filling the air. Super structured with laser like focus, it's fresh with massive tannins that obscure the fruit and most all the underlying layers. Gets very mineral driven towards the end and finishes with huge, savory persistence. If the measure of a wine is the finish, this wine has it in spades, but it seems pretty shut down and I would hold off opening one.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/30/22, 7:18 AM - I was hoping for better luck, seeing how this wine is full of praise from just about everyone, but appears I just caught it wrong. Oh well.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/30/22, 1:32 PM - It is rough going back to those old standby's....

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/31/22, 7:49 AM - Eisele was a standout while we were in Napa. CSIMM can attest to just how amazing the 18 and 16 vintages were. It's got Napa fruit with BDX complexity, which is pretty rare. Absolutely fantastic.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/31/22, 3:14 PM - I think just Cariad is purchased fruit (Abreu Madrona Ranch). IX is their estate on Pritchard Hill, and that is where the Syrah plus IX is derived. Tychson is in St Helena, and I believe it's the site at Ann Colgin's home if I remember correctly.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/3/22, 9:56 AM - MJP: I was rip roaring ready to max out my purchase and then saw the unfortunate increase. I decided to take 3 and look for more on the aftermarket. I am curious if now they will charge the same amount for the 16/18, or if it's still $450. At $450, I would grab them for sure. Those are tremendous wines.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/3/22, 10:13 AM - I did get 16 and 18 for $450 when I was there. CSIMM combs the auction markets and other places for deals, so it's definitely plausible it will be available less than $540. I expect it, which is why I only took a 3 pack. I do put some value on provenance and also a relationship with the winery, and since they treated me well last time I was there I went ahead with a purchase.

    With regard to the wine itself, I think 19 will be right up there with 16 & 18 in quality. It's a fabulous wine.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/3/22, 5:39 PM - I personally love the freshness and energy in younger wines. I can appreciate older wines, but for me I still prefer something that isn't more than 10 years or so old generally. CSIMM and I have this conversation often, as he feels like me in that respect.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/3/22, 6:05 PM - So we like fun, young, energetic and beautiful...no parallel's there at all...

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/3/22, 8:51 PM - That's lovely IRBDW. I enjoy uncontrollable youthful energy, with super tight tannins clamping hard while pushing out amazingly pure flavors that just won't quit...but you know, we all have our thing :)

Red
2018 Harlan Estate Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
5/17/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
100 points
Blind of 2018 Harlan, Colgin Tychson Hill, Bryant Family Estate, Eisele and Chappellet Pritchard Hill. Bottles were slow ox'd starting at 9am and consumed at 6pm. Six total tasters, one of which was CSIMM1161. The final order was Colgin, Harlan, Eisele, Bryant and Chappellet. The top 3 were neck and neck, with Bryant a little father back and then Chappellet not really even in the discussion.

While Colgin did squeeze out the victory, this was a close contest and I almost put Harlan in first place. The main difference was how primal the Harlan showed on the finish, and that is both to be expected and surely will be rectified with some bottle age. The biggest take aways from the Harlan were stunning freshness, elegance and insane length.

Starts with dark cherries, black currant, olive tapenade, violets and hints of eucalyptus. Already utterly refined and weightless on the palate, this captures you with a lithe entry that gives way to crazy weightless depth wrapped in noble and refined tannin. Shows super elegant, layered and graceful until the finish, where there is some primal astringency that begs for time in the bottle. Such a tremendous wine, it's too bad the price of entry is so high.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/18/22, 11:06 AM - Push comes to shove, Harlan is my favorite as well. I was pretty shocked at how Colgin performed - possibly is was the Tychson Hill that set it apart, because I've been disappointed in the IX before.

    I am in SoCal and CSIMM NorCal. We divvied up who brought the bottles so it was close to equal. Definitely have to meet up in the future to have a glass or ten.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/18/22, 2:45 PM - Yep, all 2018's.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    6/3/22, 8:01 AM - WBW: I believe Harlan only does a handful of tastings per week, and generally only if you are buying wine from them. They tend to look at your overall purchases from all their properties (Harlan, Promontory & Bond). That being said, it never hurts to ask!

Red
2018 Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon Poetry Stags Leap District
1/17/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
It goes without saying that I opened this too young. These Poetry wines are built for the long haul. Nevertheless, curiosity got the better of me. Double decanted for ~4 hours before consuming.

There is definitely brilliance lying beneath the surface here. Aromas of really rich dark chocolate hit you right out of the glass, with blackberries, dried herbs and forest floor in a complementary role. Super taut, fresh and refined, this has as many hallmarks of a BDX wines as it does Napa. Everything is coiled up tight, but with seamless refinement, elegance and precision. The fruit is present, but super restrained and it doesn't take long before the huge mineral driven flavors start to take over. The finish is spectacularly long, earth driven and spicy. Unless you've got a few to spare, give this 5+ years before popping one.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    1/17/22, 11:05 AM - Hi MJP - Took a little break from notes. Sometimes life gets a bit busy...and sometimes you need to wait until you can smell properly again. Lol.

    I can't remember if you're familiar with Chris Tynan winemaking. He makes really age worthy, long lasting complex wines. While CL is a big winery and makes a ton of wine (which is generally a turnoff to me), they have a few wines like their BTK and Poetry (also Songbook) which are terrific.

    This wine is made in a similar fashion to VHR, Spottswoode, etc. It's not valley floor like those wines, but the retrained style and focus on precision plus longevity is similar. There's enough fruit to keep it interesting, but there's a ton of earth/mineral driven flavors to round out the complexity. Poetry takes the longest to come around, but probably has the most overall upside. I also love what Tynan does with BTK. I actually think these wines are better than his own label, which gets a lot more attention from enthusiasts.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    1/17/22, 12:34 PM - My wife got the metallic taste. It's kind of hard to explain mine. Things just smelled "different" and not in a good way. Like sourdough smelled like vinegar when toasted etc. Wine wasn't offensive, but super muted and I couldn't pick a good from a bad wine out other than by texture. Thankfully, that has all gone away.

    From what I know of the style you enjoy, I'd definitely check out the higher end CL wines. They are what I would call "under the radar" on the enthusiast front, perhaps just because they are from a big commercial winery. They seem to always be available to buy, which is crazy when they are popping 99/100 every year from multiple raters.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    1/17/22, 1:15 PM - That doesn't sound like fun. This thing seems to be all over the board for people, likely with some genetic component in there. I don't seem to have lasting symptoms, at least not significant ones, but it's hard to say how it goes moving forward. Just happy to be able to taste my wine again! Glad to be back. Thanks!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/30/22, 7:24 AM - Thanks Wyatt! I hope you enjoy this wine like I do. It's pretty special.

Red
2016 Château La Fleur-Pétrus Pomerol Red Bordeaux Blend
5/25/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Painfully young, but an amazing vintage. Soars from the glass with beautiful floral notes, dark cherries, black olives and hints of chocolate. Well integrated and powerful tannins hem in laser focused fruit with exceptional layering and serious grainy savory character. Super firm and chiseled, this is powerfully structured and built to last, but ripe enough to bring some pleasure now. Finish is 30-45 seconds of enjoyment. Fantastic effort.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/26/22, 8:47 PM - I like that so far, the Pomerol's I've tasted don't have the barnyard, brett-like funk that many left banks seem to have. To be fair, I haven't had a ton of BDX, and I hear the wineries have cleaned up their act, but I always found that off putting and was happy to see it missing in this wine.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/26/22, 9:32 PM - Sure, happy to take some recommendations. Thanks!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/27/22, 5:05 PM - Lite: I was perusing your wine and good lord, are you building a cellar to hand down to generation after generation? Those are some serious numbers!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/28/22, 8:52 AM - Lite: excellent rationale! I will use your logic with my wife and see how it goes...

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/28/22, 12:01 PM - I’ve acquired 16, 18 and 19 of VCC. Sure hope I like it!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/28/22, 12:57 PM - Dipping my toe into this world. I figure if I don't really enjoy these wines, then it probably isn't my thing. So we shall see, but give CT comments and professional reviews, this seems to be the sweet spot.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/29/22, 9:26 PM - Yep, I opened the 16 tonight and it was pretty shut down. The quality was obvious, but it wasn't giving up much.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/29/22, 9:41 PM - I've got those vintages coming so I may pop the cork sooner rather than later.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/30/22, 7:20 AM - Ugh...I have had that with Napa wines here and there, but not super often. The last one I can remember was actually a 2015 Fairchild Stones 1 (LPV) that was just nails, and the 15 VV LPV I opened alongside was the same way. Obviously same vineyard and wine consultant, so it was interesting. Sucks to waste a bottle but oh well.

White
2019 Vice Versa Chardonnay Platt Vineyard Sonoma Coast
5/24/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Such the anti-California chard...chard. I think in a blind, it may actually be hard to tell if this is from CA or Burgundy. Lots of wineries claim to make this style, but rarely do they pull it off.

Lovely green apple, citrus, almonds and wet stone notes. Very austere and mineral driven with a massive, grippy crushed rock element. Super crisp, the fruit only emerges with time but the freshness, energy and focus stand out, along with an extremely long finish. Super duper good, if not at all like most CA chards.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/25/22, 12:24 PM - Agreed, it's very good and quite unique for CA. Great bottle to have around!

Red
2020 Promontory Red Wine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
5/19/2022 - Cristal2000 wrote:
I have similar feelings to what I see in some notes here. Harlan is releasing a 2020 at all its properties it seems, which is an amazing risk. I can think of no other winery near its status doing so. If these wines end up with taint down the line, it will be ruinous for their reputation. No matter what anyone says, there was a ton of smoke in the valley well before harvest, even if by some stroke of luck they picked before the second fire (not sure how convinced I am of that either).

The barrel sample was thin, primal and really not indicative of this property. Did it overtly show taint? No, but the finish did end on a bitter note, which of course leads one to wonder. No matter how you look at it, this will be a loyalty test for their list, and I am afraid I will not pass. If rating, not good.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/20/22, 4:52 PM - I don't foresee myself passing their loyalty test in 2020. Just can't father spending $700+ on a 2020 wine. Kind of absurd to expect people to do it.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/20/22, 9:29 PM - Lol. There you go. That's quite a hypothesis. I still cannot believe they are releasing 2020. It seems like a crazy risk.

    All is well here. I hope for you too!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/21/22, 9:39 AM - I also had two 2020 Bond samples on this trip, just haven't had time to get to those reviews. Suffice it to say, they were sketchy at best.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/21/22, 10:04 AM - An easy offramp there it seems.

Red
2019 MacDonald Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville
5/18/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
I mean, there's not a lot to be said that hasn't been before about these wines. Great guys making great wine and holding the line on price increases despite immense (and I mean IMMENSE) pressure from the rest of the valley to hike it up. In turn, that creates a super loyal client base and I know personally this would be the very last wine list I dropped if hard times hit (and news flash - that may be close on the horizon).

As for the wine, like most vintages this is either perfect or on the verge of it. Deep garnet purple in the glass, it shows off heavenly aromas of creme de cassis, mocha, cigar box, pencil shavings and hints of forest floor. The palate is super firm, taut and fresh, with refined yet powerful tannins hemming in obnoxiously pure and focused fruit with serious mineral driven elements. It's built like a brick house but with superior balance and class. The finish races at you like a locomotive with massive persistence. Is it perfect? I mean probably. I'll go with 99 today, but reserve the right to bring it up to 100 when I get a little more time with the bottle.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/20/22, 3:57 PM - WL: we were at a pretty big dinner so I didn't want to ruin it by getting into that discussion...I think they still plan to release a wine, the only one I'll be buying in that vintage.

Red
2019 Kinsman Eades Cabernet Sauvignon La Voleuse Du Chagrin Calistoga
5/17/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
Talk about going out on an high note (at least for a few years), this baby was just spectacular for our tasting. Nigel said these had been open for over 24 hours and also had a decant, so it's fair to say they are going to need a bit of time if you plan to open one in the next handful of years.

This is a super luxurious wine. The fruit is so pure and gorgeous, it is hard to stop drinking it. Showing medium to full body, this is translucent purple in color and starts with dark cherries, mocha, dark chocolate, violets and tilled soil. Suave and sexy, it saunters onto the palate and brings pure opulent pleasure with sweet refined tannin and wave after wave of perfect expressive fruit. Everything is in balance and there's a depth of flavor that is just downright stunning. Super rich and refined, it carries the its weight effortlessly into a huge finish. This may be a perfect effort.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/19/22, 9:36 AM - I have the advantage of writing 1/10 of what you do for notes!

Red
2021 Kinsman Eades Cabernet Sauvignon Vine Hill Ranch Oakville
5/19/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
A super young barrel sample, so clearly take these notes with a grain of salt. This is clone 4 and block 4 according to Nigel and Shae, and 2021 will be their first from this vineyard for their own label. I've been anxiously waiting to see what Nigel could do with this awesome terroir, and I was not disappointed!

In talking with Nigel and then sampling the 2021, it's clear the vintage is going to be incredibly elegant and the tannins are already super refined with a gorgeous silky mouthfeel. This tasted like a complete wine already. The fruit is going to be more concentrated than what you find with the VHR label, and it showed a beautifully layered and polished mid palate with seamless blue and red fruit that was not surprisingly very grippy. It is ripe but in great balance and the interplay of floral notes with some of the earthy chargrill and charcuterie make for a heavenly drinking experience. There's no doubt this is going to be a massive winner. Awesome. 98-100.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/19/22, 8:35 AM - It's awesome he is making an SVD from here, though I know he was a little torn since so many are doing so. It's going to be great.

    Heard you were their very first client! That's fantastic!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/19/22, 8:56 AM - I didn't hear about the Syrah. I should have asked! I believe they said case production would be under 100 for the VHR, but not 100% sure if I remember correctly.

Red
2018 Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
5/17/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
Blind of 2018 Harlan, Colgin Tychson Hill, Bryant Family Estate, Eisele and Chappellet Pritchard Hill. Bottles were slow ox'd starting at 9am and consumed at 6pm. Six total tasters, one of which was CSIMM1161. The final order was Colgin, Harlan, Eisele, Bryant and Chappellet. The top 3 were neck and neck, with Bryant a little father back and then Chappellet not really even in the discussion.

This is one hell of a wine. It just kept getting better and better all night until it pressed right up to the Colgin/Harlan level. As one of two valley floor wines in the mix, and with a notable bordeaux-like style (owed I am sure to the Latour ownership), I think most of us were able to pick this one out as the Eisele before the reveal.

Complex aromas of dark cherries, eucalyptus, cigar box, tobacco and rose petals. Super refined and classy on the palate, it shows sweet and well integrated tannin, incredible purity of fruit and more earthy notions than the other wines at the table. Some leather in there as well. Firm and fresh with amazing balance, the fruit just kept becoming more expressive the longer it was open until it was just absolutely singing at the end of the night. I didn't realize Eisele could get so much layered fruit intensity from their wine. Very long and elegant finish. Crazy great experience with this wine and highly recommended whether you like Napa Cab or BDX or both.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/18/22, 9:04 AM - I was STILL drinking the remaining drops of Eisele after you left and it actually CONTINUED to improve. It could easily be 100.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/18/22, 11:07 AM - I bought more 18 and also 16 when I was there. Really loving this style as well. Hard to beat.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/18/22, 11:49 AM - For Eisele, I only tasted 19 and 11 at the winery. They were offering 18 for purchase at release price, so I picked that up. I was running low on my 16's, and they were nice enough to sell me three also at release price. I was duly impressed they didn't add a library fee on top. So all @$450.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/18/22, 11:20 PM - It is pricey, no doubt. It'll definitely improve with time, but if you were to drink one soon, give it a day of air and watch the fireworks show!

Red
2018 Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon Pritchard Hill Estate Vineyard Napa Valley
5/17/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Blind of 2018 Harlan, Colgin Tychson Hill, Bryant Family Estate, Eisele and Chappellet Pritchard Hill. Bottles were slow ox'd starting at 9am and consumed at 6pm. Six total tasters, one of which was CSIMM1161. The final order was Colgin, Harlan, Eisele, Bryant and Chappellet. The top 3 were neck and neck, with Bryant a little father back and then Chappellet not really even in the discussion.

This really suffered on a relative basis. It was a tough crowd. The bottle also was a little warmer than the rest, and since another participant brought it, I can't be sure what time it was opened. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to realize this was the Chappellet.

Relative to the rest, this was light in body without the depth or overall length. Had a more red fruited and red dirt vibe, with lots of violets, blueberries and red fruit. It was pure and relatively seamless, just didn't seem to have as much going on as the other bottles.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/18/22, 11:14 PM - Some people love young wines, some people old wines, but I believe you can tell the character of a wine at most any point in time. Giving these 9 hours of air allowed them to come into their own and I feel we got a very good sense of the wine. Having had some older Napa Cabs recently (96 and 97 Bryant, 02 Bond Vecina and others), I would say that age does not always translate to better wine. Most of these likely hit their prime for my palate years beforehand. The 18's were very young, but I doubt we didn't get a very good sense of what they will be during this tasting.

Red
2018 Bella Oaks Vineyard Proprietary Red Rutherford Red Bordeaux Blend
5/15/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Enjoyed at the Garden Party. As CSIMM mentioned, it was pretty warm out there and it definitely had some effect on the wine. Since my buddy here wrote a book on the wines, I'll spend less time and just highlight few things. The first is that these are about the most polished, suave and sexy wines you could possibly make. They have gorgeous red licorice and dark cherry fruit that just wafts over your palate like silk, with so much flavor and depth. It's very impressive. As for 18 vs 19, the 18 is showing a bit more tension and precision at the moment, while the 19 just shows ridiculous intensity and opulence. The latter is so young that it's hard to say what it will look like with time, but I think these wines follow the vintages, where the 18 is cooler climate, shows immense poise and is possibly the more age worthy of the two. The 19 is a bit more of a "napa" vintage, with fabulous pure fruit in a regal package that brings a smile from ear to ear. It certainly is not lacking structure or acidity, but of the two, it's the more opulent. It is pretty much a toss up for me as to which is best. I'll take both! :)
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/17/22, 5:10 PM - Alex is joining for dinner tomorrow. I wasn't able to connect with Bruce for this trip, so not headed there sadly.

Red
2019 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Vine Hill Ranch Oakville
5/4/2022 - MJP Hou TX Likes this wine:
98 points
Tasted this wine over several days with many different approaches. My personal favorite was cork pulled and replaced for 24 seemed to benefit both the 18 & 19 equally.

The 2019 bottling is very expressive on the nose right out of the gate. Very floral and intoxicating. Still wound up but more approachable than the 18, Block 4 Clone 4 provides the backbone and 3a clone 337 provides some instant gratification. (Could be the vintage as well) Almost everyone that tasted went back and forth of which one was their favorite. There is no doubt this is special fruit and Jennifer Williams did a wonderful job with this wine. I'll be curious to see where this goes with time in the bottle as it's damn tasty right now.

Both vintages on order.

As a treat to Josh, we opened up an 08 & 15 VHR during these tasting. 18 being more in line with these bottlings but I will admit I have yet to taste the 19 VHR. That needs to be done soon.

98+
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/5/22, 9:37 AM - MJP: Nice notes and sounds like a great time! I definitely think the vintage plays a big role in the difference between 18 (colder, less fruit, more structure) and 19 (warmer, more fruit, earlier drinking window), but surely the clone addition adds to it. Also, I distinctly remember the barrel toast changed, where 18 showed a lot more espresso and coffee.

    I've found 18 to be erratic young, sometimes tasting great and other times disjointed. Definitely the ager IMO.

    Cheers!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/5/22, 10:26 AM - Yep. I will be back in Napa next week for the first time in a while. Going to have to get my IV bag ready...

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/5/22, 10:45 AM - Such a sh*t show. Bryant family tasting and then dinner with Bettina Bryant where she’s opening $20k worth of wine based on an auction package we won (and Chris Shepard cooking). Lunch at Nine Suns, Lunch with Pont Nueff. Tasting and dinner with Nige and Shae Kinsman along with Alex Macdonald. Dinner and visit with Patrice and Sam at VV. Bella Oaks private event. Josh from AB lunch with tasting. Tasting at Eisele, Colgin, Promontory, Fe, and Bond. A few others. I’m up for a week due to the Bryant dinner and wedding following weekend, so trying to make the most of it!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/5/22, 10:55 AM - I guess the other cool one is tasting with Chris Tynan. That's always enjoyable.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/5/22, 11:45 AM - I hear you. We have 3 kids too, so my wife is flying back in between and we are rotating family in and out to make it work. My one big reprieve this year! Still have to work some days unfortunately...

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/5/22, 12:39 PM - Blarmston: Lol, yeah, I'll be penniless and need a new liver, but it should be fun. Will see if I can muster the energy and concentration to write all those notes. Will at least try to get the most relevant notes on here.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/17/22, 9:05 AM - Hi IRBDW: I am actually in the valley currently. Trying to post some notes as I go, because I definitely won't be able to get to all of them. Cheers!

Red
2019 Bella Oaks Vineyard Proprietary Red Rutherford Red Bordeaux Blend
5/15/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Enjoyed at the Garden Party. As CSIMM mentioned, it was pretty warm out there and it definitely had some effect on the wine. Since my buddy here wrote a book on the wines, I'll spend less time and just highlight few things. The first is that these are about the most polished, suave and sexy wines you could possibly make. They have gorgeous red licorice and dark cherry fruit that just wafts over your palate like silk, with so much flavor and depth. It's very impressive. As for 18 vs 19, the 18 is showing a bit more tension and precision at the moment, while the 19 just shows ridiculous intensity and opulence. The latter is so young that it's hard to say what it will look like with time, but I think these wines follow the vintages, where the 18 is cooler climate, shows immense poise and is possibly the more age worthy of the two. The 19 is a bit more of a "napa" vintage, with fabulous pure fruit in a regal package that brings a smile from ear to ear. It certainly is not lacking structure or acidity, but of the two, it's the more opulent. It is pretty much a toss up for me as to which is best. I'll take both! :)
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/16/22, 6:11 PM - Was it you who had your profile picture Carter wine? Hmmm...

Red
2018 Bella Oaks Vineyard Proprietary Red Rutherford Red Bordeaux Blend
5/16/2022 - csimm1161 wrote:
100 points
2018/2019 Bella Oaks side-by-side @ Bella Oaks Garden Party.

Let's just start with the mere fact that any Napa Cabernet that can power through a 90-degree afternoon at an outdoor swanky soiree served at an open bar while still maintaining an exacting sense of alterative poise, polish, and perfect posture is a wine of which to take heed. I mean, as you're sauntering around poolside with your salmon-tinged summer chinos slacks, extra sch'medium collar-popped Lacoste, and fedora Milan man-hat, and you glance across the travertine lanai to see a freshly concocted Aperol Spritz sitting right next to a dark crimson red wine, you are instinctively compelled to seize-hold of the Italian orange crush cocktail over the anticipatingly heavy red NyQuil Cab. Yet, you're a juice-trooper and here for the scarlet sizzurp (and after all, it is a Bella Oaks party, so you 'have to' have at least a sample of the wine to ensure, if nothing else, you'll be able to have a token compliment to offer in conversation should you run into the winemaker). So you grab a stem of the 2018 Bella Oaks and shuffle off to your small throng of like-minded wine geeks, in further hopes the waitstaff will circle back and offer you another one of those fabulous gazpacho shots!

Not really thinking about it, (cuz really all you're thinking about is that small bead of perspiration starting to form on your temple), you take a sip of whatever is in your hand. Suddenly..... Your mind jets off to Bordeaux; you're in a wine cave with Nigel Kinsman - but he's wearing a black beret, has a monocle, and is gnawing on a baguette as he thumbs through a well-worn copy of Tolstoy's War and Peace). You take another sip, now focusing more on the glory of the wine itself. Supple and luxurious black and red currant, blackberry, red and black cherry, red plum, a fascinating kiss of herbal fresh red licorice (more like anise or fennel), cocoa nibs, cassis, and the faintest wisp of terracotta. The texture and delivery is sensually polished, gliding into the most lustrous of mid-palate saturations, and rolling into a finish the cruises along with the perfect equilibrium among its flavors, weight, intensity, and concentration. The combination of focus and freshness keeps this wine in complete attentiveness. An absolute stunner. A serious core with sexy-plush contours.

Next to the more intense (but perhaps even more burnished and sleek) 2019, the 2018 was so steadfast in its execution, that we wine-goobers kept going back to it over the 2019. Again, it was a warm day; the fact that the 2018 could persevere and maintain our attention for what literally was hours in the afternoon outdoors is certainly saying something (not that we were in Namibia in Naked and Afraid or anything). But, you all know how the elements can jack up a wine experience pretty darn fast.

Ultimately, the 2018 will be one to lay down horizontally for a few years, but considering these bottles were getting popped right and left without any further babying made for extraordinary drinking even now. I'll keep mine chillin' in the cellar for a bit. Try again in 2025+ for no other reason because that seems like the preppy prudent thing to do. Both the 2019 and 2018 performed like champs, but the 2018 stole the show for me this go-around. 98-100 points.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/16/22, 5:16 PM - So your bride's opinion got in your head then? Lol. Crazy review. Very nice!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/16/22, 6:10 PM - Just think, now the leash is forever!

Red
2016 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
5/13/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
Not ready just yet, at least not without a ton of air, but this wine promises to be an absolute hero. Needs to integrate some of the wood and let the fruit even out, but all the stuffing is there for a legendary Bryant. Violets, blackberries, asian spices and loamy soil showoff an impressive aromatic display. The palate is packed and stacked full on depth and flavor, with ripe tannin, big time structure but a seamless quality that allows it to glide with weightlessness to a super long and impressive finish. The fruit is epically pure and supported by the classic iron ore from Pritchard Hill that gives it magical complexity. Big, but not brutish, and will no doubt be one of the better wines produced from this legendary winery.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/15/22, 7:25 AM - We are both in the weak camp. :)

Red
2015 Carter Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon The O.G. Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Oakville
5/4/2022 - csimm1161 wrote:
95 points
Though there is still some transition happening here, it appears to be headed in the right direction. After some swirling in the glass following the initial pull of the cork, this big boy quickly finds a cadence and shows off concentrated blackberry and spice notes that exhibit both power and some class. More time equals more depth, as bitter chocolate and cassis flavors glide to the surface of the profile. Finishes slightly acute and pointed, but not so much that it takes away from the overall delivery of solid fun fruitiness. Not as full and complete as the 2016 OG but inviting enough in its current state to provide an enjoyable swig. Ideally, hold for another few more years. 95+ points this go-around.

Served side-by-side with a 2015 Judge Palmer Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon, which, I mean, kinda isn't even worth debating over. If you don't know who won that fight, you should probably stop drinking wine...
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/4/22, 6:58 PM - Wow, you pulled the coveted Judge Palmer from the locked area of your cellar? Baller! :)

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/4/22, 8:02 PM - That friend really understands your palate. :)

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/4/22, 9:29 PM - I am surprised anything could top a Judge Palmer...

Red
2019 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Vine Hill Ranch Oakville
9/12/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
100 points
This wine has it all. The fruit, structure, acidity, purity, tannin quality and overall balance just knock it out of the park. Aromas of blackberries, dark crushed flowers, tobacco leaf, dark chocolate and forest floor. Super densely packed on the palate, this displays amazing depth of flavor as it unfurls full bodied and ripe fruit that is immediately complimented by huge mineral driven and savory flavors. It is notable that the fruit in this VHR is darker than what you would get in the VHR label or Tor. It is similar to Memento Mori in that respect. It has everything I enjoy about a BDX wine – great structure, completeness, acidity and age worthiness – but also gives me the amazing pure fruit I so enjoy from Napa. The finish is off the charts and I’ve never personally had a better wine from this vineyard.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    9/14/21, 2:28 PM - It's actually likely a year away from release, or more. I was fortunate to get a sneak peek.

    The 18 is also very good. Has a lot of BDX character. It has a bit more oak on it, but it's pretty rockstar. The 19 is just next level. I believe they got a second block, and Jennifer also did a few things differently with elevage. I am more and more impressed with the 19 vintage every time I have it.

    As a whole, I would think AB would be up your alley since they strive for BDX style wines. The owners, Steve and Seann, are huge BDX collectors and love french style wines. Also some of the nicest folks around.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    9/14/21, 4:51 PM - Thanks for the info. I couldn't remember and didn't note it.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    9/15/21, 6:54 PM - IRBDW - Thanks. I am sure you will enjoy this wine!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    9/15/21, 6:59 PM - Hi Bsumoba: I have not had the 19 Tor VHR. Like you, I am put off by the price, and I can guarantee you I will find it for far less in the aftermarket. That is Tor's biggest issue - they make too much wine and have to distribute quite a lot of it. I enjoyed their 18, but it's probably at the end of the AB, VHR, MM lineup.

    I think the top dogs right now are AB and VHR. I love VHR and my only critique is it's sometimes a bit too red fruited and restrained for me. There's no doubt it's exceptional (especially the 16), but often times I feel like it needs a bit more depth of flavor. The AB gives you a more full bodied and darker fruit appeal, without being anywhere near an extracted and opulent wine. It's a good balance and one that speaks to me. But of course, I'd never argue with someone who likes the VHR style better. Just personal preference. That said, make sure you try that AB VHR!!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    9/16/21, 12:05 PM - Hi Nick - for 2019, I believe they are both $225.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    9/16/21, 12:06 PM - Also, in 2021 they will have a BTK wine as well. So that was interesting news.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/3/22, 2:15 PM - Hi Nick: I bought 6!

Red
2019 Vice Versa Cabernet Sauvignon Mysterons Napa Valley
4/29/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Holy sh*t, this wine is killing right now with a few hours of air. First vintage of this wine, and blends are always question marks in my book, but damn if Maayan, Patrice and co didn't pull off a stunner.

Gorgeous aromatics, displaying a beautiful interplay of violets, cassis fruit, cedar and forest floor. Drank PnP to start, and the tannins were clamping hard, but after letting it sit for a while the expansion was epic. Concentrated dark fruit dominates on the front end, but without over the top extraction or opulence, just damn pure fantastic fruit. Immediately transitions to grainy minerality, with tons of earthy notions that are deeply layered and insanely expansive. You know how the best wines start small and focused and then keep moving the flavor outward until it fills the entire palate? Well that is this wine. Fills in dramatically over time with enduring persistence and awe inducing energy. I am sure it will continue to get better for some time, but I would drink one if you have a few. Just a great wine.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    4/30/22, 8:25 AM - I picked up a couple of the Maybach's too, although their style is obviously a lot more extracted. This Mysterons is a blend with their new estate grapes and Beckstoffer fruit, so I doubt it will be that similar to an SVD of Ecotone (former Thorevilos), but it'll be fun to find out! Cheers!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/2/22, 7:54 AM - I don't put a lot of stock in drinking windows. A lot of has to do with your palate preference and when you catch the wine. I personally enjoy the intensity of a young cab as long as it is not super tightly wound, tannic and coiled up, but I am sure many of the older wine lovers wouldn't find this appealing. That being said, I would guess most buying this style of napa cab are more like me...but who knows? If you're looking for earthy, leathery and herbaceous, then yeah, I'd give in quite a lot longer.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/3/22, 11:43 AM - Interesting. A while back I was told it had some Beckstoffer fruit in it. Even Jeb's tasting note says parts of it from there...I will be seeing Patrice shortly, and will try to confirm.

Red
2019 Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Altagracia Napa Valley
4/25/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
I haven't had an Altagracia in about 7 vintages and I have to say, this wine has come a long way. Perfumed with tobacco, bay leaf, menthol, creme de cassis and violets, this is wonderfully seamless, elegant and classic. Meeting the standard of old world wine made in the new world, it shows off pure fruit with restraint and complexity, highlighting many years of growth ahead. Tight at first, it expands after about an hour in the glass and does truly seem like the little brother of the Eisele Grand Cru. Extremely sophisticated and suave, it is pure class right out of the gate. Very long and savory finish. 95+
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    4/26/22, 10:14 AM - It was better than expected, and definitely indicates the 19 Eisele will be awesome!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    4/29/22, 5:46 PM - Cool, hope you enjoy the 19 AB VHR. I certainly did!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    5/1/22, 7:52 AM - Sounds like fun! I've found the VHR to go through hot and cold periods - hopefully it shows off for you. I am sure you'll enjoy the 19 lineup. There are many gems in there.

Red
2016 Scarecrow Cabernet Sauvignon Monsieur Étain Rutherford
4/15/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
The last time I had this wine was over 3 years ago and not a lot has changed. It is aging at a wonderfully glacial pace. The nose still chock full of blackberries, cassis, violets and youthful exuberance. It is layered and concentrated, with some oak that still needs to integrate. There is pure, rich and high quality fruit that gives way to some great mineral streaks and earthy goodness. As per usual with Scarecrow wines, the mouthfeel is wonderful (if not quite at the level of big brother) and the tannins are ripe and fine grained. It all leads to a long and satisfying finish. This one has a long life ahead. I'll wait at least another year or two before the next one.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    4/22/22, 6:02 PM - Hi MJP: M Etain has been hit and miss for me over the years, but I do think 2016 and 2018 have real promise. They are certainly earlier drinkers than the main wine, so 10 years in a hot vintage like 2012 could've been too much. Hope all is well!

Red
2019 Vice Versa Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard St. Helena
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: This is always a wow wine for me. The LPV and M7 had a slightly better showing, but this was no slouch and showed as much promise as ever. All the blueberry pie, white flowers, crushed rock and wet stone that is normally associated with this vineyard explodes from the glass. Powerfully rich and concentrated with that oh so ridiculously pure and yummy blue fruit reaching every crevasse of the palate, this is stunning. I am always taken by the unreal purity of the fruit from this site, and this vintage shows it off in spades. Perfectly integrated tannins and seamless texture frame pure opulence and hedonism in a glass. The finish is massive and has a nice mineral streak. 98+
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    7/27/21, 9:49 PM - I think you are right on with 18. While some showed well early, in general they seem to need time. It was a cool vintage and those tend to require more patience. I feel like 19 will be more accessible early from my tastings so far. That vintage is really growing on me.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    4/14/22, 2:33 PM - Hi B&B: I think the tasting fee is for folks who aren't current buyers. It's a way to make sure people don't come in for some free $250 cabs. If you ask, I would imagine they will waive it with a purchase. If that doesn't work, I'll give you my email and I'll reach out on your behalf. This all assume you'd be a buyer when you visit of course. Cheers.

Red
2017 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Estate St. Helena
8/30/2020 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
I had this blind alongside the 12 and 13 vintages. Wanted to get rid of any bias I might have against the 17 vintage. I had previously doubled decanted this bottle and it received about 4 hours or air before the first sip. The evolution from hour 4 to hour 7 was pretty amazing. Blind, it was more muted on the nose than the other two. Gorgeous deep purple in the glass, it displayed floral notes intermixed with lots of earthy notions, black fruit, menthol and tobacco. Not surprisingly, it tasted really young. There was good freshness but it was a bit austere and the mid palate had not developed while the fruit was still hiding behind tannins. It was pretty clear this was the 17. I felt it was the least interesting of the three wines, but still was very good with upside potential.

Now fast forward a few hours and wow, the fruit really started to emerge, showing beautifully pure and ripe, with excellent concentration and youthful exuberance. The mid palate had filled in completely, and it was a totally different animal. Very expressive and easily one of the best 2017's I've had to date. In the end, this was just as good if not better than the other two vintages. As usual, Spottswoode made a great wine irrespective of the challenges of the growing season. This wine is always a winner.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    12/24/20, 8:22 AM - Thanks and Cheers!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    3/23/21, 2:41 PM - MJP: I was so annoyed with them tying the 18 to the 17 I didn't buy. That was a jerk move. Especially since it will show retail for about the same price. I did think the 17 was good, but I hate when wineries do that to clients. And in this case, they distribute so much wine it is literally a big FU to us.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    4/1/21, 10:47 PM - I'm with you Geaux - when I saw the offer I was shocked. Bumper crop vineyard, price raise of $25 a bottle and now you are forced to buy 2017 to get 2018? If that's not desperate and lays bare how difficult it was for them to sell 2017 I what is...

    It will show up all over the place for the same price as list (without the 17). They make too much wine for it to be a big markup. I've had offers at $175 for the 17, so I think they're fooling themselves and screwing over loyal buyers. That's how you lose DTC.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    4/8/22, 10:52 PM - Hi B&B: I just received the 2019 vintage, but haven't given it a go yet. I still haven't tried nor purchased the 2018, but that may in the future.

    Hopefully, I'll get a chance to pop a 19 soon. Cheers!

Red
2019 Vice Versa Cabernet Sauvignon Les Cousins California
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: Well now, it appears my friend CSIMM wrote a book about this wine, and how it meets his French sensibilities. I happen to overall agree that this wine is going to be special, just not quite at the 100pt level.

Taking Beckstoffer fruit and putting it with some of Paso's best is an interesting concept. Making it all cab is even more interesting, since traditionally that is not the best grape grown in the GSM dominant Paso region. Nevertheless, this turned out to be a fantastic first effort that will unfortunately only come with about 80 total cases split between L'Aventure and VV.

Super expressive both on the nose and palate, it starts you out with wonderful opulent fruit and is really expansive, touching all corners of your taste buds. Lots of blackberry, black licorice, loamy soil, bing cherry and really good levels of minerality framed in by strong and fine grained tannins. As it progresses, the fruit calms and makes way for significant savory character, I assume from the Paso part of the blend. With a perfect mouthfeel, great layering and already developing complexity, this has the potential to be fabulous. It's already super fun to drink.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    7/27/21, 9:05 PM - Is Macron stepping down? :)

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    7/27/21, 9:54 PM - Thank you for the nice comments. Of course I am only joking around with my friend CSIMM - he is a note posting savant! CT is a great resource for all of us, and I think for Napa in particular, it has taken the place of any big time critic. Losing Parker kind of ended the age of a pro critic dictating preference. Now we can find people who have similar palates and tastes to really find the wines that best suit us. Cheers!

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    4/7/22, 7:23 AM - That price is...interesting. Lol. They are making so little of it, I understand the attempt to get as much bang for the buck as possible, but making it $100 more than a To Kalon or Crane is clearly a bit of a stretch, not to mention the $100 or so L'Aventure charges for their "reserve" cab.

Red
2019 Saxum G2 Vineyard Paso Robles Willow Creek District Red Rhone Blend
3/20/2022 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Had this blind next to the 19 Turtle Rock G2, 19 Andremily G2 and 19 Paul Lato Il Padrino. This was neck and neck with the Turtle Rock, but came in second. I kept going back and forth on which I liked better.

This is a spectacular rhone. It was the outlier in this tasting since it was not syrah dominant. Nose of violets, black cherries, underbrush and rose petals. Shows exceptional freshness, extreme depth and layering plus well integrated but firm tannins. Very fresh, taut and pure, it's got a bottomless pit of energy that doesn't quit as it moves to a super long finish. The longer this was open, the better it got. Certainly young right now, but wow, so much potential.
  • Cristal2000 commented:

    3/21/22, 10:35 PM - Yes, I definitely think so. I had it open for about 5 hours prior to tasting and it kept getting better. It's got some good years ahead.

  • Cristal2000 commented:

    3/29/22, 8:42 PM - The TR is so good now, I am not sure if I will wait long. The Saxum seems to need a bit more time. So probably 2 years or so. I don't generally think of Paso wines as super long agers, or at least I don't think they get a lot better with a ton of time.

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