Tasting Notes for Cristal2000

(950 notes on 711 wines)

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Red
7/30/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Saw LPB finally rated the VV lineup and I was pretty surprised at the relatively low 95 given to the LPV. Given my exceptional experience recently with the 2019's, figured I would pop a bottle to give it my own evaluation. Important to note I doubled decanted, left at cellar temp for 3-4 hours and then warmed up to room temp before drinking. I think that really makes a difference with these wines.

Begins with expressive and powerful aromas of blackcurrant, baking spices, white flowers, crushed rock and hints of forest floor. Reflects the cooler vintage with extraordinary freshness and precision, showing great balance with mostly black fruit, bitter chocolate with lots of mineral driven and savory character. Super refined tannins are still very present, giving the impression it can age quite nicely for years to come. Builds powerfully in the mid palate with layers that are just emerging, and finishes for over 1 min. Really impressive and way better than 95. Perhaps I am low at 98. Definitely upside.
4 people found this helpful Comments (11)
Red
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.
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White - Sweet/Dessert
2001 Château d'Yquem Sauternes Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend (view label images)
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
100 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: What can I say? Best dessert wine ever? Honey and peaches paired with vibrant and energetic lemon pie and stark wet stone. Powerfully concentrated but totally light on its feet, this shows ridiculous freshness that tastes like it was bottled yesterday. Masterfully balanced, with great minerality, the wine stuns and finishes like a locomotive, with layer after layer of satisfaction.
2 people found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: The ever fickle 15 LPV was finally open for business on this occasion. Showed lots of wonderful crushed stone notes to go along with blackberries and hints of char. Next to the BBS wines, this was a bit lighter on its feet and worked more deftly around the palate. Super expansive while also showing great freshness, this is still a baby. It’s amazing how young these wines still taste at age 6. I expect this to improve for a long time to come.
3 people found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: As expected with these super concentrated BBS wines, this still wasn’t completely ready, but it showed better than the Crane we had alongside and had all the elements of a tremendous future. With depth for days, wonderful structure, enough flavor to last decades and an off the charts finish, expect this to improve for at least another decade. The overall class of this vineyard shined.
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Red
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: What a treat to have these BBS wines. They don’t make them any longer, but one barrel of their best juice from these Beckstoffer sites was just epic while it lasted. On this occasion, the TK BBS outshined the Crane BBS, but this was still extremely tasty. Showed all the fresh and pure blueberry compote and black cherry fruit that makes this vineyard so special, while also still attempting to integrate and resolve its massive size. This is stuffed with all the goodness you could want, but it will take a little more time to reach its stride. Give it a few more years and a very long decant.
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Red
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: Black raspberries, rose petals, forest floor and loamy soil on the nose. Wonderfully energetic reddish black fruit showing great freshness and precision, with just a ton of earth driven elements supporting in the background. Nicely fine-grained tannin and a long finish.
White
7/27/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
This has become a personal favorite over the last few vintages. Made in a Burgundian style that emphasizes crisp minerality and freshness over oak and concentrated power. Showing lovely grapefruit, lemon tart, white flowers and citrus, this is super energetic on the palate. It’s young, but already bright and crisp with a nice core of fruit to complement the deeply mineral driven and spicy layers of flavor. The citrus fruit shines a bit more in this vintage so far and the finish is very long and satisfying.
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Red
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
100 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: This wine is flat out amazing. It managed to take the best elements of its three parts (TK, Crane and LPV) and showcase them in one place. That is not an easy feat when you’re blending them together, so bravo to Patrice, Philippe and the wine making team.

Gorgeous notes of violets, blackberries, crème de cassis, dark chocolate and forest floor. Super sophisticated on the palate, this takes the expansive power of LPV, the gorgeous purity and flamboyance of Dr Crane plus the focus and structure of TK and magically winds it into a wine that is at once powerful and refined. It gives you all the fruit you could want without ever going over the edge of extraction, and laces in huge levels of minerality and savory character to balance it out and bring sophistication with complexity. As with the other wines in the lineup, the texture is on point and the tannins are so pixilated and fine grained it’s quite amazing. Finishes for over a min. Amazing!
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Red
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: There is a clear separation in profile for this wine vs the others. There’s more acidity and strong tannins. If I were a betting man, I’d say this may have the most longevity of the wines tasted. Nose of cherries, cassis, white flowers and plenty of loamy soil. This starts with flashy red and blue fruit that is quickly lifted by bright acidity and hemmed in by powerful tannins. There is a lot going on underneath the surface here, with layers of minerality and earthy flavors that hint at the complexity to come with some bottle age. I think this wine will get better and better for quite a long time, and I’m looking forward to checking in on it as it progresses.
Red
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+
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Red
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: Had this directly next to the TK, so it was interesting to have Cab Sauv and Cab Franc from the same vintage and vineyard next to each other. Starts with typically excellent Franc-like notes of rose petals, raspberries, cherries, pencil lead and cedar. A bit of a redder profile than the other wines, this is seriously fresh and taut, with lots of savory notes. It is a tad sharper than the other wines in the tasting, needing a bit more time to round out and come together, but It’s got a great structure to age and excellent length. I’ll look forward to tasting this one in 5 years. 95
Red
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: Exceptional, and likely needs a bit more time than the LPV or Crane to fully come into its own. Classic TK notes of cassis fruit, violets, blueberries and fragrant earth. A very focused wine, with excellent acidity and structure. Shows wonderfully layered blue fruit with a regal feel to the integrated and seamless tannins. This is a wine that build momentum as it crosses the palate, slowly expanding and accelerating toward a powerful, spicy and earth driven finish. 98+
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Red
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: CSIMM wins this battle, as he always pledges his allegiance to LPV over Dr Crane and for once that proved true. He is now 1 for 50. :) In a tightly grouped race of siblings, this had a slight edge over Crane and TK, while falling just below M7 for me. Do I think that will last? Perhaps not, as LPV is a fickle vineyard, sometimes being out of this world good and other times being as impregnable as CSIMM’s love of the French.

Dark black in the glass, this wine is simply gorgeous, displaying notes of blackcurrant, crushed stone, cassis, spice box and deeply savory elements. Full bodied and with crushing depth of flavor, this envelops your entire mouth with amazingly pure and fresh black and blue fruit along with a massive mineral driven streak. It’s like a bottomless pit of flavor, never losing energy or focus while it makes it way from the front to the back of your palate, showing textbook silky mouthfeel and an unreal finish. This may be the bottle to crack as soon as you get it, because wow, it’s amazing. 99+
3 people found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
7/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Vice Versa Wine Dinner: The best wine I’ve ever had from this site. Stunning floral aromas burst from the glass complemented by blackberries, dark chocolate, pencil shavings and forest floor. Super fresh on the palate, there’s lovely bright acidity with rich concentrated fruit and plenty of earth and mineral driven flavors. The texture is seamless and while already integrated and fine grained, the tannins are present enough to suggest a long life. This wine only suffered by drinking it next to the 19 LPV, which was absolutely rocking! 97+
White
6/22/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Striking gold color in the glass. Peaches, pineapple, creme brulee, honeycomb and a distinctly earthy/savory character on the nose. Shows as moderately concentrated, with excellent fresh acidity, nice layering and a really interesting mix of citrus and earthy flavors in addition to hints of oak. Definitely strikes a high end note with the quality of fruit plus overall refinement and tannin integration. Unique in its overall complexity. Still shows significant structure and a long finish. This will likely continue to age very well for another 5+ years. I suggest drinking it a bit warmer than your average chard to bring out the flavors.

The style here reminds me of a restrained version of Aubert. Big time complexity, some oak to resolve and exceptional overall quality. A little more lithe in its presentation. Very good.
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Red
5/14/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
Well, well...this wine has been staring at me for a while from the cellar window. I have previously looked the other way, not giving into its sultry stare, but tonight I felt the time was right to indulge.

I popped the cork, decanted and then back in the bottle about 4 hours before dinner. At dinner, I had some and it was still tight. About 30 mins later it started to unfurl in the glass.

Heavenly nose of blackberries, anise, violets and cassis fruit. The palate is hitting all the right notes right now: gorgeous pure mostly blue fruit, seamless pixilated tannins, excellent acidity and significant structure frame a very well integrated young wine. This is firm, not the least bit too forward and comes across in the most lovely fresh way, with the interplay of fruit, crushed stone and mineral driven flavors interchanging from the front to mid to finish. There is very good concentration, but nothing at all heavy about it. A fabulous effort that will continue to get better for a number of years. This will easily compete with the 16.
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Red
4/22/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
Barrel sample. After the Memento Mori and Arkenstone samples that were so up front and ready to drink, this monster crashed the party. You won't mistake this for the other wines anytime soon. Super tight with a wall of tannins I'm not used to getting from a barrel sample. That could be because while we are all drinking 2018 already, this baby is still sitting in the barrel! And of course, 2018 is a very serious cooler vintage and doesn't show its cards like 2019 has been so far. Anyway, this is black fruited, filled with dense earthy flavors and finishes with huge minerality. It'll take a while to truly see what this will become. I've found Vangone to be a bit fickle in bottle. Sometimes it's rocking, and other times it's meh. Could just need age. This one is 94-96 in my book.
Red
2019 Arkenstone Estate Howell Mountain Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
4/22/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Barrel sample. I really think the Estate wine from Arkenstone is a sleeper in Napa. It used to be $175, and I never saw it sell out, despite the critical acclaim, wonderful vineyard source and fabulous winemaker. For some reason the word isn't out like on Memento Mori. Let me say that IMO, this is amazing wine, more age worthy than those on the valley floor and is likely to surpass many great cabs over time.

In comparison to the MM barrel samples, this clearly shows a firmer structure, stronger tannins and a bit higher level of acidity, which is what you'd expect from a wine with elevation. The energy is exceptional, with fabulous red and blue fruit concentration and a really significant mineral streak that brings a nice balance to the wine. This is likely to be a wine you need to wait on while devouring the MM's, but it'll payoff in spades. 96-98+
3 people found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
4/22/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Barrel sample. Definitely a bit more over the top on the fruity goodness than the MM Blend or MM LPV, this shows impeccable purity and way more blue fruit character. Black cherry, blueberry pie and huge floral is the hallmark of Crane and it's very present in this edition. The silky mouthfeel, awesome freshness and massive depth and concentration can't help but make you smile. Not for the faint of heart and not what I would call a BDX lovers wine, but thankfully Sam gives it balance and it has the structure to age and get better for at least a decade or two. Like with the LPV, seems like a blend of 12 and 16 vintages. 97-99+
1 person found this helpful Comments (3)
Red
4/22/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Barrel sample. Very powerfully built wine, leading with a large helping of black and blue fruit complemented by a bit of rustic and grainy minerality. The vintage seems to really show off wonderfully concentrated and opulent levels of fruit, and this falls right in line with that description. Not quite as purely amazing as the LPV or Crane with the fruity quality, but makes up for it with the potential for more complexity and overall character. Another great wine with exceptional potential. 95-97+
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
4/22/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
This was the first barrel sample pulled on the trip, and it did not disappoint! Super fresh mostly black fruit jumps out of the glass with lovely opulence and energy. Refined tannins and a suave mouthfeel even at this early stage, this was just a blast to sample. The fruit leads, but it has plenty of earthy and mineral driven flavors that emerge around the mid-palate and take it right though the finish. The vintage comparison that comes to mind is like mixing 12 with 16. Great potential here and surely will continue with a long line of great MM LPV's. 96-98+
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Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
As with the 19, CSIMM1161 captures most of my thoughts on this wine. Just a super powerhouse of a Syrah that is somewhat classic in its presentation. All the smoked meet, beef drippings, iron ore and bloody character come through with massive concentrated power and huge aging potential. Great complexity already, for those who love this style it's an absolute winner.
Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
CSIMM1161's thoughts are very similar to mine on this wine, so won't spend too much time here. As he mentioned, this is WAY different than the 2015 version we had next to it. This was almost cab like in its presentation, showing gorgeous pure fruit and exceptional energy. It was missing all the smoked meat and beef drippings of the 15, but was super pure and amazingly fun to drink. Excellent acidity and structure for longer term aging, but I personally hope it holds onto this fresh character. Really unique and charming and shows the difference from vintage to vintage.
Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Based on this barrel sample, I'd guess the 19 may eclipse all the other vintages of this wine. There is something really great that happens when you get a more opulently fruited vintage and pair it with a classically made and older school style from a great winemaker. That seems to be what you have here.

Absolutely unreal fruit quality and purity comes bursting at you from the first sip. Aromas of rose petals, blackberries, asian spices, fragrant earth and cedar are striking and intoxicating. Shows all the qualities you'd want in a Napa Cab: insane freshness, perfect fruit quality, fantastic energy, seamless but strong tannins and chiseled precision. This will be epic. 98-99+
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
This wine put me squarely back in my wheelhouse vs the 2017 edition. Starts with dark cherries, blackberries, rose petals and forest floor. Showing a lot of fruit for this style of wine, it is amazingly energetic and pure, with lovely concentration, seamless tannin integration and a huge backbone of savory flavors that will no doubt become more prominent over time. This is a big and fun right now, but it's going to be much better in a decade or so. Finish was long and oh so satisfying.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
93 points
In fairness here, higher riding, redder fruited and more acidic cabs are not my wheelhouse. When you put that together with an already old school style, it makes it a bit more challenging for me to enjoy. That being said, this is very well made and certainly won't be offensive to anyone drinking it.

TN: Nose of black cherry, spice box, tobacco, plums, roses and iron ore. Lots of herbal elements on the palate, with a few green notes. Concentration isn't near as high as the other wines we had alongside, and the acidity is more noticeable. It's definitely less of a standalone wine and more made for a food pairing. Lots of savory character to go with excellent purity and freshness.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Getting a chance to taste this wine was a real treat. Chris' wines are so built for age that it can be hard to get a real good read on them early. This showed without a doubt that these are going to age gracefully and gain significant complexity over time.

What I found unique and interesting about this wine was its ability to show off really massive levels of concentration without it being dominated by fruit. Reminded me a bit of Harlan in that respect, although I am not ready to put this wine at that level.

TN: Blackberries, forest floor, loamy soil and hints on smoked meat and char on the nose. Concentrated and super savory on the palate, this is a bigger version of a nicely aged BDX. Showing super complexity, deftly integrated tannins and plenty of freshness, it's still a baby in the lifecycle. I expect it to get better for another decade, and that's not common in Napa.
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Red
4/22/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Heimark is new as a SVD in 2018 for Arkenstone. Apparently this used to be part of blends and Sam decided it was good enough for its own bottling. Although I didn't realize it beforehand, the vineyard appears to also make its own wine, which I see here on CT.

For me, this wine was a tale of two very different parts. I thought the nose was a bit funky and I couldn't put my finger on what it was that turned me off a bit. It still had nice floral notes, but there was a lingering aroma that I couldn't get past. That said, on the palate it was hitting all the right notes. Chocolate, blackberry, herbs, char and mineral driven flavors came together with nice concentration to really make an impression. This is a dark wine, with mostly black fruit, and it shows a gravely profile that seems made to gain complexity. It's spicy, with a well developed middle and long end. If it weren't for the aroma issue this would be 96+ for me. Perhaps a one off or I was having a bad day.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
4/22/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
As others have noted, this is a new wine from Arkenstone. Maybach also makes a wine from here, and it is right next to Vice Versa's new home vineyard in Calistoga. I sometimes think Maybach is over the top extracted, so I was excited to see what Sam could do with it. Turned out to be my favorite red poured during this tasting from Arkenstone.

Nicely fragrant nose of dark cherries, black currant, spring flowers, wet stone and hints of asian spice. Shows great concentration and nice balance, not going over the top with extracted fruit, but also displaying the freshness and purity of the vintage and vineyard. As always with Sam's wine, the tannin management and overall mouthfeel is impeccable, and the wine gains weight from the mid palate to a long finish. This is a great first effort for this vineyard. I have become more and more interested in the Arkenstone Estate Cab, and this now gives me a second wine to enjoy from them in a "Napa reasonable" price range. Just don't spend much time looking at the ridiculously bad labels they threw on these. :)
3 people found this helpful Comments (5)
Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Barrel sample. Another new wine from VV is this BTK Cab Franc. Same disclaimer as my other notes for this day - lots of wine so palate may not have been 100%. But since it will be released in the future, wanted to get up some recollections.

Perfumed nose of roses, cherries, spring flowers, dried herbs and pencil shavings. Medium to full bodied, it is showing mostly red and blue fruit, with fantastic purity and lots of energy. The savory character comes into play around the mid palate, giving it a multi-dimensional profile. The tannins are tight knit and the finish is fairly long and pure. Great new entry and I am excited to taste it on release.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
Barrel sample. Always one of my favorite wines, we caught this one in a shut down phase. My last note would be a better indication of my thoughts on this wine, since it wasn't giving up much on this occasion.
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Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Barrel sample. Finally got to taste the mysterious new entry into the VV lineup. This is a blend from their newly sourced site Ecotone (of Abreu fame), their new home vineyard in Calistoga (near Amoenus - Maybach & Arkenstone) and some other parts from the Beckstoffer lineup that I can't recall offhand. Again, I mention that I had this with around 20 wines at the end of a day of tasting, so my palate may not have been 100%. Nevertheless, I want to provide some feedback.

Summing it up, this was fantastic. Showed dark cherries, cassis, raspberry, spice box and lots of floral on the nose. This is full bodied, but with a great spine of freshness and acidity that makes it a bit more taut than the Beckstoffer offerings, along with a slightly redder fruit profile. Refined tannins and a silky mouthfeel are coupled with nice pure fruit and a lot of earth driven flavors. There is a deep mineral streak that emerges around the mid palate and carries it to a long and satisfying finish. Overall, I feel like this is a bit less opulent, but more structured and brighter than most of the other VV wines. I love them all, and this is a great new entry.
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Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Barrel sample. I have a love hate relationship with this wine. When it's open for business it is absolutely amazing. But it's a bit fickle, and sometimes it is just nails. Ask Patrice and he will tell you the shut down phase is something all great wines experience. I can't argue with Patrice, because the man drinks WELL. I'd just say make sure to check CT or get some feedback before you open these in bottle.

Thankfully because it was a barrel sample, this baby was singing. Nose of blackberry, crushed rock, violets and forest floor. Full bodied and super pure, this is a stunning compilation of gorgeous ripe fruit and gravely minerality. Does a fabulous job of representing the vineyard. The fruit is mostly black with hints of char and earth, and it shows really pixilated tannins and wonderful depth of flavor. As usual with LPV, it is a complex mix of fruit, stone and soil. Very fresh and super long, this is going to be fabulous on release.
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Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
Barrel sample and disclaimer: I had this after a full day of tasting plus alongside about 20 wines. So, you know, my palate may not have been 100%. That being said, is there an easier winery to trust on quality than VV? I'd put Patrice and Sam right there with Alex MacDonald for absolute confidence they will turn out the best wine possible. Seems like Kinsman has started down this path as well, and time will tell as they earn the confidence of us enthusiasts. But bottom line is these wines are awesome and I never question the quality.

Even amongst many great wines, this was stunning. I believe it was 99% of the final blend, so we can have confidence this is what will be in the bottle. Wonderfully expressive nose of blueberries, black currant, violets, spice box and forest floor. Super full bodied but not showing any real weight, this is notable for its depth of flavor, ripe but refined tannins and ethereal mouthfeel. Suave, energetic, with wonderful balance and acidity, this hits all the right notes. Shows pure black and blue fruit combined with great minerality. Finish is super long and satisfying. Right up there in the top 5 wines tasted on a trip with 70+ cabs. Much rather buy this than Realm Absurd or other wines of similar pedigree. More confident in the people.
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White
4/22/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
This is always one of the best SB's in the valley, and this vintage carries on the tradition. Aromas of grapefruit, peaches, lemon zest and orange peel burst from the glass. Extremely fresh and vibrant, it shows an abundance of citrus fruit, with crisp acidity and big time streak of minerality as it transitions to the mid palate. With air, it gains weight and shows a creamy, powerful core complimented by super refined tannins, a silky mouthfeel and a long finish. This is fun to drink. These also actually age, so you can be comfortable laying them down for a while.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2016 Harlan Estate Oakville Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
100 points
See my previous notes for just how in love I am with this bottle of wine. Having it right next to a 12 showed its youth, with a bit more alcohol to integrate while waiting on some of those secondary and tertiary flavors to emerge. Nevertheless, this is simply a stunning achievement that sets it apart even in perhaps the best vintage in recent memory in Napa. The only thing that will make it more perfect is bottle age, so if you don't have many $1000 bottles to experiment with, then I'd say hold off 4-5 more years at least.
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Red
2019 Harlan Estate Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Barrel sample. It's fun to sample Harlan when it's got so much fruit showing and is super expressive. Comes right at you with creme de cassis, cherries, plums, spice box and wonderful floral notes. Super deft on the palate already, it's energetic, with exceptional concentration and overall balance. These are precise wines, and you can even get a good sense of it at this stage. Fabulous tension and already showing nuance. After some swirling comes hints of herbal and savory flavors. Really an exciting wine. Will be right up there with other Harlan's from great vintages. 97-99
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 Harlan Estate Oakville Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
100 points
Epic wine. Doesn't get much better. I think I tasted about 70 different cabs over the span of 3 days in Napa, and this was the best (followed very closely by the 16 Harlan and 18 MacDonald). There's something unique about the Harlan wine. It's hard to put my finger on, but I know it when I taste it. The quality, depth of flavor and almost immediate complexity are second to none. It will never be a QPR winner, but if I am going to splurge this is the first place I look.

Bursts from the glass with blackberries, plums, dried herbs, tobacco, violets, cassis and forest floor. The epitome of an iron fist in a velvet glove, this is just seamless on the palate with incredible concentration and nuance. It shows amazing complexity, with fruit, earth and minerality all taking turns in the lead. The purity of fruit, bright acidity and depth for days makes this a truly magnificent achievement. Finish is off the charts. Showing amazingly right now, but still has many years left to show its best.
5 people found this helpful Comments (22)
Red
4/24/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
Alex and Graeme knock it out of the park once again. As I always say, the easiest wine purchase I make all year. They refuse to cave into pressure to jack up their prices alongside most everyone in Napa, and therefore have one of the most loyal and appreciative client bases anywhere. The wine will compete with any cab in the country, and they have a real waiting list, which hardly anyone has these days. Bravo!

Thanks to Alex for always being so generous with their wine. My initial impression is this will be right up there with 13 and 16 as the best vintages I have tasted. Decanted around 12 hours, this sprung from the glass with notes of creme de cassis, tobacco, violets, crushed rock and savory character. The front end gives you a hint of gorgeous pure black fruit before giving way to a massive core of minerality and earthy elements. That incredible flavor and density is done without any weight, making it both huge and elegant at the same time. The tannins are super fine and well integrated, while also robust and create the structure to keep this wine aging for a very long time. Acidity is bright and keeps everything fresh and lively. The finish is off the charts long.

As with all MacDonald wines, give them a ton of air if you plan to open them within 10-15 years. These are built to last.
3 people found this helpful Comments (13)
Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
Yet another up and coming wine with Nigel Kinsman as winemaker. I was fortunate to get a taste before the first vintage is released. You certainly will not be disappointed if you are able to get a few bottles.

I can't remember the exact blend here, but it has a pretty good amount of cab franc if memory serves. The nose was super expressive and gorgeous, with tons of wonderful floral notes complemented by cherries and tobacco. The palate was fresh and vibrant, with grippy tannins and lots of energy. It was fairly approachable for being so young, and showed a lot of personality. This is sure to only get better.
Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Fortunate to get an early preview of this wine. Obviously Bella Oaks has a storied history with Heitz and then Staglin, so I was super curious to see what Nigel and company was able to produce. Despite making some wine in 2016 and 2017, this was the first vintage that met the high standard necessary for release, and it's a knockout.

I was able to follow this over two days, and it kept getting better and better with more air. Clearly the sign of a very good wine. A blend of mostly cabernet with little parts cab franc and petit verdot, the nose shows red cherries, violets, tobacco and loamy soil. Showing bright acidity and seamless freshness, this rides a bit higher on the palate than the Kinsman wines, but over time continues to put on weight and shows compelling levels of concentration and depth of flavor. The fruit is mostly blue and red, and the acidity and structure really shine. There's a nice mineral driven streak that shows on a long finish. This is another crazy good first vintage like Kinsman La Voleuse.
1 person found this helpful Comments (13)
Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
I'm not exactly sure how close to the finished product this is, but boy is it good. Like most all barrel samples, it was showing a lot of fleshy fruit, but it also showcased excellent acidity, powerful concentration and tons of potential. Compared to the 16, it appeared to have a bit more fruit and opulence, without quite the massive depth and concentration. That could change as it evolves, but it is going to be a wine you want to buy if you can. 95-97
1 person found this helpful Comments (2)
Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
This new wine is absolutely dynamite. Formerly block 1B that went into Araujo's Eisele (and is now owned by Chateau Latour), the quality of this site is undeniable and an absolute home run for Kinsman. There are probably not more than a couple vineyards that could be considered better than Eisele in all of Napa Valley, so if this wine can even come close to that quality it will be a massive hit. And since Nigel made Eisele for many years, the transition here appears to be somewhat seamless.

The nose shows violets, creme de cassis, cigar box and crushed stone. The palate is pure class, with fine grained ripe tannins, a silky mouthfeel, excellent depth of flavor and insane purity of fruit. This is the most elegant, refined and sophisticated wine I've tasted from Kinsman. It also shows the most Bordeaux like character. The fruit is super expressive, with a full mid palate and crazy long finish. I found this be enthralling and super fun to drink. 98++
4 people found this helpful Comments (4)
Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
Kinsman goes 2 for 2 on the very challenging 2017 vintage. LPB's 89+ with the much feared ? after it to indicate potential smoke taint gave me pause on release, but I can definitely say there was no trace of it in this bottle. As with the Anjea, this was one of the top 2017's I've had to date.

Lovely aromas on the nose are driven by black olives, black cherries, rose petals, crushed rock and earthy notions. On the palate, this has a serious mineral streak running through it, with exceptional freshness and tension. The tannins are still quite prominent, but you can get at this wine much more than the 16 Anjea I had alongside. It's fairly high toned with red and blue fruit per the Diamond Mtn source and vintage. The finish is long and satisfying.
3 people found this helpful Comments (9)
Red
4/23/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Kinsman gets way more concentration and depth out of this vineyard source than other producers I've tasted. From what Nigel says, they drop 20% of the juice to get it to this level and it shows. He also uses clone 22, which I had never heard of before, but clearly it's all working!

Blackberries, dark cherry, forest floor and hints of floral show on the nose. The palate is just packed and stacked with intensity. Depth for days, with fine grained but super prominent tannins, big time earthy notes and a huge structure. This is mostly black fruited with excellent purity. As others have noted, this wine is meant for age and it's a beast. Still showing some oak and needs time to come together a bit more, but wow, the potential is super impressive. Extremely long finish.
1 person found this helpful Comments (5)
Red
3/28/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
93 points
Just arrived, but wanted to see what I'm working with here in this difficult vintage. Decanted 5 hours before consumption. Must say, this is the least interesting Tusk I've had. It's young, so hopefully it'll come around.

Starts with a lot of alcohol on the nose, but also shows nice floral, blackberry and earthy aromas. The palate is pretty indicative of the vintage - higher toned red berry, with above average acidity and not nearly the depth or well rounded flavor profile of recent vintages. The texture is excellent and there's no hint of smoke taint or other issues that plagued the vintage, but generally it is just unremarkable for the price point. Gets pretty sharp on a medium length finish.
White
3/26/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
91 points
Nose of green apple, grapefruit, lemon, white flowers and wet stone. Really lithe on the palate, this is definitely on the lighter, fresher and more mineral driven spectrum. Good energy, tension and acidity, with plenty of limestone driven flavors, this really only lacks depth and concentration. More white burg than CA chard in its presentation. Medium length finish. Easy drinker that will go well with food, but not terribly cerebral or memorable. You won't mistake it for a Vice Versa wine from the same vineyard.
Red
3/17/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Coravin pour. Showed up today and my patience isn't very good. Obviously young, but this wine shows amazing promise. Nose is all TK, with black cherries, beautiful floral notes, spice box and forest floor. Super pure, fresh, taut and fine grained, this shows fabulous structure, poise and refinement. It's wound up fairly tight (especially since I didn't decant it), but the tension and layering shine. The fruit shows, but is mixed in with a lot of mineral driven flavors. The tight knit tannins and outrageous length leave an impression. This has a long life ahead of it and will only get better for a number of years in my estimation. 98+
6 people found this helpful Comment
Red
3/12/2021 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
93 points
Clearly very early on this wine. Notes after 24 hours of air. Aromas of fragrant earth, blackberries, tobacco, menthol and spice box. Fresh, with big tannins and lots of deeply mineral driven flavors. This is certainly not an extracted, fruit driven wine. Exceptional tension and structure, this begs for more time in the bottle, but alas, I am not that patient. A dry wine, with a very long lingering and fairly astringent finish at the moment. Overall, this is excellent at the price point, but don't think of it as an early drinker like others in this price range. Built for time in the bottle and very classic in its appeal (i.e. this is not Myriad or Bevan folks!).
2 people found this helpful Comments (11)
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