Tasting Notes for Cristal2000

(787 notes on 591 wines)

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Red
2008 Promontory Red Wine Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
12/7/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Blackberry, tobacco, black pepper, menthol and dank earth dominate the nose. The palate still has plenty of dark fruit, but is definitely starting the transition to tertiary flavors of mushrooms and coffee. The mid palate is a bit more hollow than I would ideally like, but the overall balance is excellent. It is more medium than full bodied, without the massive depth of some of the newer vintages. Big time earthy and mineral driven flavors. Good purity and a long way to go here, but it may be near its peak for my palate. Finish is a bit shorter than ideal, but still enjoyable.
Red
12/7/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Nose of coffee grinds, chargrill, toffee, blackberries, burnt embers and violets. Plush, lush and rich on the palate, this shows a silky smooth mouthfeel to go along with super refined tannins. There is some jam showing, which will need time to go away, and overall this wine was showing a lot more flamboyantly than is typical of Scarecrow. Lots of opulent fruit, but also with really interesting levels of scorched earth and even charcoal like flavors. Super persistent on the finish. My overall impression is this will be exceptional with time, but right now needs a few years to come together.
3 people found this helpful Comments (2)
Red
12/6/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Reddish purple in the glass. Perfumed nose of violets, anise, dark berries, licorice, tobacco, forest floor and herbal elements. Superior depth and concentration on the palate, with big energy and freshness to go with silky yet powerful tannins. Stays full bodied throughout, but without any significant weight. Huge mineral steak on an extremely long finish. Structured for a long life. This really should be allowed to age for another few years at least to get the most out of it. If not, give it 12 hours of air.
6 people found this helpful Comments (2)
Red
11/23/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Barrel sample. A new wine from Mike. Nicely perfumed on the nose, with crushed white flowers, blackberries and loamy soil. Shows concentrated and powerful fruit with some good lift from decent levels of acidity. Shows more dank earth and mineral driven flavors than the other samples tasted, yet not quite as refined or seamless. That said, there are the signature sweet tannins creating an inviting wine to drink probably as early as on release. Nice persistence on the finish. Curious to see how this tastes from bottle. 93-95
Red
11/23/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
Barrel sample. If I remember correctly, Mike wasn't sure which Crane he pulled, so I am assuming this was regular Crane but not 100% sure it wasn't Elysian. Wonderful aromas of blueberry pie, dark cherries, cassis, hints of spice box, wet stone and violets. Really deep core of pure and vibrant fruit as it hits the palate. Of all his wines, I feel these Cranes show the most overall precision, but still lean toward the opulent side. Tannins here are showing a bit harsher than some of the others, which again will likely change with some time but also a reason to believe this is not the Elysian. Finish is very long, if a bit linear and biting at present. Big time upside here with more time to come together. 94-97
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
11/23/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Barrel sample. As is typical for a Myriad GIII, this wine has a ton of up front fruit and extraction. Huge blackberries, blueberry compote, hints of loamy soil and a nice floral component. The front end is all about chewy ripe fruit and hedonistic glory. Right now as it transitions to the mid palate it gets a bit high toned and shows some bitterness that will likely subside with time. Tannins are also sweet and integrated, with a decent overall backbone, but I've always believed this is a wine to enjoy in the first five years. Finish showed good length and promise. 93-95
Red
11/23/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Barrel sample. The 18's, even at this stage, certainly set themselves apart from the 17 vintage. They show more depth, purity, ripeness and overall quality. This was the barrel sample showing the best during this tasting, although clearly it is early.

Vibrant blackberries, embers, violets and wet stone on the nose. More serious than it's 17 sibling, this shows a huge core of mostly black/blue fruit, with lots of scorched earth and mineral driven flavors to round out the profile. The tannins are already sweet and integrated, and there is great layering throughout. The finish is persistent and long lasting. These will never be the most precise wines, but the overall opulence and depth of flavor is notable and in line with 12-16 vintages. A tremendous value @ $125. 95-97
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
12/2/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
This is a very special wine. Super intense, deep and powerful, yet somehow seamless with very little weight. Starts with a nose of smoked meat, black olives, violets, black licorice and spice box. A powerhouse on the palate, it shows huge mostly black fruit, backed up by earthy and mineral driven flavors. The tannins are amazingly integrated and refined, with wonderful layering and a super sophisticated mouthfeel. Maybe the most amazing quality here is there is nothing flabby at all despite endless fruit intensity. The wine remains focused and firm, with purity and amazing persistence. Better with more air and certainly early for this wine, but fun to experience. Many thanks to CSIMM1161 for providing this beauty at dinner.
1 person found this helpful Comments (4)
Red
11/23/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Tasting w/Chris Tynan (Cliff Lede Caves, Yountville): This was certainly the surprise of the tasting. PnP in the cave. This showed just about everything you could want from a wine. Very complex nose of cassis fruit, tobacco, loamy soil and lots of mineral driven goodness. On the palate this is a joy to drink as it melds pure, concentrated and fabulous Napa fruit with exceptional balance, structure and sophistication. There is well rounded-ness and polish to this wine that is undeniable. The tannins are powerful but integrated, and there is no doubt this will continue to age gracefully for a long time to come.
Red
11/23/2019 - Cristal2000 wrote:
93 points
Tasting w/Chris Tynan (Cliff Lede Caves, Yountville): Drank on PnP. A very typical 2011 nose, with green bell pepper, black olives, menthol, tobacco and lots of herbal qualities. With the aroma, I was prepared for this to be extremely lean, but it actually showed quite a lot of richness for the vintage. Not much fruit showing, but very savory, with earthy and mineral driven flavors abound. As Chris said well, this is a wine you drink on a cold day in your smoking jacket hanging around the house. Showed the potential to age for many more years. Not my favorite profile, but impressive achievement for 2011.
Red
11/23/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Tasting w/Chris Tynan (Cliff Lede Caves, Yountville): This was a WOW wine right out of the barrel. Coming right after the 2018, this was surprisingly showing even better. Very similar nose as the 18, with lots of expressive creme de cassis, black cherry, violets and forest floor. Chewy tannin gives way to excellent backbone. Super pure and amazingly concentrated, this showed serious depth and great potential to be something near perfect when it gets to bottle. Obviously this is very early (about 10 days in barrel), so lots of potential variability here. 98-100
Red
11/23/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Tasting w/Chris Tynan (Cliff Lede Caves, Yountville): Tasted from barrel. Fantastic expressive nose reminded me a bit of his Cliff Lede BTK from barrel, with black cherry, forest floor, creme de cassis and violets. Still primary, but undeniably pure, rich and layered, I'd expect this to put on some weight and be quite stunning. Lovely integration of expressive fruit and serious backbone, with notable fine tannins and significant length. This was just a tick less concentrated than the 2019. 97-98+
Red
11/23/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Tasting w/Chris Tynan (Cliff Lede Caves, Yountville): Tasted this from bottle on PnP. Has some of the typical 17 qualities of redder fruit and higher acidity, but also is a very complete wine. Fairly lean initially, with lots of blackberries, loamy earth, stark mineral driven flavors and big time tannin. Well structured and built for the long haul, the fruit here was subdued, but likely will show more with a little age and more air. Very long on the finish and an excellent wine given the vintage. 94+
Red
11/22/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
100 points
2013-2016 MacDonald Mini Vertical (Bottega, Yountville): This wine received about 8 hours of air, with a decant, and it only continued to get better the longer it was exposed. All dinner long, I wrestled back and forth with whether this or the 2013 was my overall favorite. By the end I settled on the 2016, although it was more of a 51/49 type decision.

Showing a similarly gorgeous perfumed nose as the 2013, this wine had a heavenly bouquet of black cherry, cassis, violets, herbs, spice box and hints of iron. Incredibly exacting, fresh, precise, layered and energetic, this is a perfect representation of the varietal. Massively concentrated and full bodied with black/blue fruit and lots of savory notions; it magically pulls off the weightlessness only the best can achieve. It is super structured with seriously refined and powerful tannins, yet more approachable than the 2013 at this stage of the lifecycle. The finish is off the charts long and basically just insane. This could definitely use another 5+ years to really hit is stride, but damn if it isn't fun to pop one open. It should be fun to see how the 13 and 16 evolve over the years to see which ultimately comes out ahead.
6 people found this helpful Comment
Red
11/22/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
2013-2016 MacDonald Mini Vertical (Bottega, Yountville): This wine received about 8 hours of air, with a decant, and it could have still used more. It continued to evolve in the glass at dinner, and got better and better as the night wore on. Of all the vintages on the table, this one seemed to have the most unique character. It was less perfumed on the nose and a bit more brooding, with cassis, tar, anise, herbs, embers and wet stone. As you might expect from this vintage, the palate is immensely concentrated with refined, sweet and super grippy tannins. Given its size, it dances quite elegantly, showing wonderful notes of chocolate, blackberries, loamy earth and hints of tobacco. Texturally nearly perfect, this is super complex with years left to evolve, and finishes outrageously long. I'd say of the wines on the table, other than the 2013, this needs the most time to integrate and fully come into its own. It is packed and stacked with immense potential.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
11/22/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
2013-2016 MacDonald Mini Vertical (Bottega, Yountville): Gave this about 6 hours of air, including a decant, which was just about right as it was singing right out of the gate. Of the vintages we tasted side by side (13-16), this is clearly the wine to open now, although another few years certainly will not hurt. Super perfumed on the nose, this wine was really a delight to the senses, with lovely violets, some black cherry, raspberries and hints of spice. Broad, deep, powerful, rich and expressive on the palate, there are waves of blue/red fruit, black licorice, dark chocolate, loamy earth and mineral driven notes highlighting excellent complexity. While this is a very serious wine, in comparison to its siblings, it showed the most finesse and approachability. The finish is fairly plush and long, but not quite on the same level as the others. Hard to imagine many being better for the vintage.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
11/22/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
100 points
2013-2016 MacDonald Mini Vertical (Bottega, Yountville): Gave this around 8 hours of air, including a decant, and it still required more. Definitely take Alex's suggestion with a 12+ hour double decant. As this spent time in the glass over the course of about a 4 hour dinner, it kept unfurling and chugging towards perfection like a locomotive. Slightly perfumed nose, with blackberries, licorice, violets and stark mineral driven notes. While the refined tannins are massive and chewy, this wine shows tremendous energy on the palate. It's seriously concentrated, but not at all heavy, with seamless freshness and huge structure. Acid is significant and this certainly is not your typical cult fruit bomb from To Kalon. Instead it is laser focused and precise, with layers for days. It is taut, balanced, profound, super long and utterly impeccable, with the best yet to come in the years ahead. This is one of the few wines I think could literally be a 50 year wine, and still needs at least 5-7 to really be hitting its stride. If you've got these, consider yourself lucky and tuck them away in the cellar for a while.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2017 Saxum Gratias Paso Robles Red Blend (view label images)
11/14/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
93 points
Nose of strrawberries, raspberries, violets, smoked meat and asian spices. Showing exceptional purity, energy and balance on the palate, with fantastic persistence. Red fruit is backed up by grainy yet integrated tannins, with plenty of earthy and mineral driven elements to make it very compelling. It tastes so fresh and vibrant right now it is hard to resist. While perhaps not the most complex and age worthy Saxum ever made, it is by far the best value ever for $10.:) Great effort and easy to drink right now. Good illustration of just how far Saxum has come from the days of super dense and at times overly alcohol driven wines.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Léognan Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
11/12/2019 - Cristal2000 wrote:
Egged on to try this by my friend CSIMM's other worldly review. Sadly for me, I am not finding this to be near as open for business as he did. The tannins are taking center stage right now, really putting the clamps down on any flavor trying to leak through an almost impregnable wall.

Hints of blackberry, stark minerality, loads of forest floor, white pepper, loamy soil and violets on the nose. First sip is fairly cringe-worthy just from the tannic bite, but quite clearly this is put together with excellent structure and great balance. Nice layering and terrific length, this is going to need a number of years before it is really approachable if this bottle is any indication. Can't really rate it easily right now, but pressed I'd say 93-94.

Day 2: Felt compelled to report back after 24 hours of air. The tannins have loosened up quite a bit, and it is showing SO much better than yesterday. The tension and purity are notable, as is the energy crossing the palate. This shows massive potential and upside. Scoring now would be more in the 95-96+ range.
7 people found this helpful Comments (3)
Red
11/9/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
This is an excellent wine, showing extremely well right now. Nose sings of violets, cassis fruit, dark cherries, wet stone of mineral notions. Opulent, seamless and super expressive on the palate, this shows sweet fine grained tannins and wonderful freshness. It's full bodied but in no way overbearing, with outstanding purity and excellent length. This was a surprise to me, and I'm going to have a hard time keeping my hands off these. Exceptional with upside. 97+
Red
11/9/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Double blind tasting of four Napa Cabs, all 2016 vintage. Entries were Vice Versa BTK BBS, Realm Absurd, Memento Mori LPV and Arrow & Branch Dr Crane. All wines were given approximately 3 hours of slow-ox, and all were served at cellar temperatures. There were six of us tasting.

I didn't take formal tasting notes, but figured I would post the results. The Vice Versa BTK BBS & Memento Mori LPV were in a dead heat for the #1 spot. The VV had the most #1 votes (3 to 2), but the MM was the most consistent, being ranked either #1 or #2 on every scorecard but one. Overall they produced the same number of points. For what it's worth, I had the MM slightly higher this time around. It was absolutely bursting with flavor and showed amazingly well. The VV would ideally get some more time in bottle, but showed even more potential.

Of the other two wines, the Absurd was clearly #3 and the AB was #4. If this wasn't blind, I would have expected the Absurd to show a bit better. It was a bit primary, more red fruited than other wines (and previous vintages) and didn't have as amazing a flavor profile at the top two wines here. While all the wines showed extremely well, the AB was clearly sucking wind trying to catch up. It's going to need some time in bottle and even then, while great, still may have been a bit out of its league with these heavy hitters.
Red
2016 Realm Cellars The Absurd Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
11/9/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Double blind tasting of four Napa Cabs, all 2016 vintage. Entries were Vice Versa BTK BBS, Realm Absurd, Memento Mori LPV and Arrow & Branch Dr Crane. All wines were given approximately 3 hours of slow-ox, and all were served at cellar temperatures. There were six of us tasting.

I didn't take formal tasting notes, but figured I would post the results. The Vice Versa BTK BBS & Memento Mori LPV were in a dead heat for the #1 spot. The VV had the most #1 votes (3 to 2), but the MM was the most consistent, being ranked either #1 or #2 on every scorecard but one. Overall they produced the same number of points. For what it's worth, I had the MM slightly higher this time around. It was absolutely bursting with flavor and showed amazingly well. The VV would ideally get some more time in bottle, but showed even more potential.

Of the other two wines, the Absurd was clearly #3 and the AB was #4. If this wasn't blind, I would have expected the Absurd to show a bit better. It was a bit primary, more red fruited than other wines (and previous vintages) and didn't have as amazing a flavor profile at the top two wines here. While all the wines showed extremely well, the AB was clearly sucking wind trying to catch up. It's going to need some time in bottle and even then, while great, still may have been a bit out of its league with these heavy hitters.
2 people found this helpful Comments (7)
Red
11/9/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
Double blind tasting of four Napa Cabs, all 2016 vintage. Entries were Vice Versa BTK BBS, Realm Absurd, Memento Mori LPV and Arrow & Branch Dr Crane. All wines were given approximately 3 hours of slow-ox, and all were served at cellar temperatures. There were six of us tasting.

I didn't take formal tasting notes, but figured I would post the results. The Vice Versa BTK BBS & Memento Mori LPV were in a dead heat for the #1 spot. The VV had the most #1 votes (3 to 2), but the MM was the most consistent, being ranked either #1 or #2 on every scorecard but one. Overall they produced the same number of points. For what it's worth, I had the MM slightly higher this time around. It was absolutely bursting with flavor and showed amazingly well. The VV would ideally get some more time in bottle, but showed even more potential.

Of the other two wines, the Absurd was clearly #3 and the AB was #4. If this wasn't blind, I would have expected the Absurd to show a bit better. It was a bit primary, more red fruited than other wines (and previous vintages) and didn't have as amazing a flavor profile at the top two wines here. While all the wines showed extremely well, the AB was clearly sucking wind trying to catch up. It's going to need some time in bottle and even then, while great, still may have been a bit out of its league with these heavy hitters.
1 person found this helpful Comments (5)
Red
11/9/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
Double blind tasting of four Napa Cabs, all 2016 vintage. Entries were Vice Versa BTK BBS, Realm Absurd, Memento Mori LPV and Arrow & Branch Dr Crane. All wines were given approximately 3 hours of slow-ox, and all were served at cellar temperatures. There were six of us tasting.

I didn't take formal tasting notes, but figured I would post the results. The Vice Versa BTK BBS & Memento Mori LPV were in a dead heat for the #1 spot. The VV had the most #1 votes (3 to 2), but the MM was the most consistent, being ranked either #1 or #2 on every scorecard but one. Overall they produced the same number of points. For what it's worth, I had the MM slightly higher this time around. It was absolutely bursting with flavor and showed amazingly well. The VV would ideally get some more time in bottle, but showed even more potential.

Of the other two wines, the Absurd was clearly #3 and the AB was #4. If this wasn't blind, I would have expected the Absurd to show a bit better. It was a bit primary, more red fruited than other wines (and previous vintages) and didn't have as amazing a flavor profile at the top two wines here. While all the wines showed extremely well, the AB was clearly sucking wind trying to catch up. It's going to need some time in bottle and even then, while great, still may have been a bit out of its league with these heavy hitters.
Red
11/8/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Super excited to try this wine after having it from barrel almost a year ago. It was so amazing back then, I really wondered how it would be from bottle. While not quite as open and insanely expressive as it was then (which was expected), this is still delivering the goods in spades. Distinguishes itself from the 2015 vintage with not as much chocolate and baking spices, but rather more tension, energy and complexity.

Somewhat similar tasting notes to MSUWRIGHT, who did a nice job capturing the experience. Creme de cassis, hints of boysenberry, embers, pencil lead, sweet tobacco and cedar on a really intoxicating nose. Palate is a bit tight, showing seamless freshness and tension, with pure fruit and wonderfully powerful yet integrated tannins. In the mid palate it gets a touch chalky, and tells you this is clearly a bit (or a lot) early to be popping the cork. Powerfully concentrated red and blue fruit predominate, backed up with loamy soil, crushed wet stone and lots of mineral driven elements. The finish is incredibly long and really amazing. A wonderfully focused wine. I think my 97 is probably selling it short, as the future is very bright.

Day 2: Little update. No falloff at all with 24 hours of air. The chalky qualities have mostly subsided, and the wine is taking on a more LPV like profile. Lots of burnt embers, scorched earth, deep mineral driven flavors and still insane length. Big time concentration persists.
3 people found this helpful Comments (4)
White
10/29/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
92 points
Lemon rind, green apple, pears, white flowers and dense minerality on the nose. Slightly hot upon opening, this shows considerable concentration, lots of chalky earthy character and big time acidity. Very long and taut finish. This is one of the bigger Chablis I've had, and will need a bit of time to come together. Loads of potential.
1 person found this helpful Comments (1)
White
10/25/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
93 points
Guava, crushed white flowers, vanilla, lemon curd and deep mineral driven notes show prominently on the nose. Energetic, fresh, relatively round/creamy and plush, this is immediately compelling. Medium + body with lots of stone, slightly bitter green apple and hints of citrus fruit. Tartness builds onto a slightly short finish. Way too easy to drain this bottle. Very nice effort for the price point. Perhaps better in a year, with certain upside.
Red
2015 Château Pavie Macquin St. Émilion Grand Cru Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
10/23/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Kirsch, plums, smoked meat, spice box, char and violets on slightly reticent nose. Fresh and elegant, this is as expected still very tightly wound with exceptionally fine grained and sweet tannins. Showing more rich and expressive blue and red fruit than one might ever expect from BDX, this is perhaps a Napa Cab lovers French wine. Tons of stone ground mineral driven flavors laced with earthy notions that go on for days. It certainly is not forgetting its BDX roots. Really seamless with a medium to full body and great length. Spicy and built to last, give this at least 5-10 years unless you love the racy intensity (like I do).
2 people found this helpful Comment
White
10/21/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
88 points
Picked this up at Costco for $19, and at that price, it performs quite nicely. Lemon curd, limestone in abundance, orange peel and hints of sourdough on a slightly reticent nose. Palate is sharp, light bodied and ready to drink. Could use a bit more concentration. Exhibits lots of sour green apple, saline and deep mineral driven notes. Very fresh and vibrant. Good length if a tad bitter on the finish. Simple, yet hits the spot. Easy to drain the bottle.
Red
10/18/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
Aromatic and expressive nose of blackberries, raspberries, black cherries, violets, hints of char and scorched earth. This needs some time to work through the alcohol, as at present that is somewhat dominating. Displays fine, silky and solid tannin structure, with excellent layering, especially for this vintage. As has become a signature of 2017, it's a bit more red fruited, more acidic and goes higher on the register than 2012-2016. There's lot of minerality and earthy notions that give it excellent character. The fruit is nevertheless pure and vibrant, without the harsh and bitter mid-palate that has felled some higher end valley floor cabs from this vintage (and may very well be not just underripe, but the taboo smoke taint in some). Nice, medium length finish. All in all, this is a winner for the vintage but needs some time in bottle to bring the elements together.
8 people found this helpful Comments (5)
Red
10/14/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
First time having Frias wines, and this was pretty impressive. Really complex nose of cherries, plums, violets, cassis, menthol and tobacco. The aroma alone tells you this will not be a super modern fruit bomb. On the palate it's quite old school, with some nice blue and red fruit complemented by lots of loamy earth, deep herbal notions and lots of freshness. The tannins are fairly prominent, but still approachable. Nothing harsh, obtuse or overdone. No noticeable overt oak or cedar influence. Medium to full bodied, this carries itself marvelously with noble character and lots of interesting and complex nuance. Finishes quite long and very earthy. Excellent effort.
Red
9/26/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Stunning aromas of blackberry pie, cassis fruit and crushed flowers with hints of tobacco and menthol. Firm and focused, presenting mostly primary still but with some tertiary flavors emerging in the form of leather and mushroom. Still a lot of nicely pure blue fruit backed up by a ton of loamy soil and earth driven notions. Bitter chocolate takes you from the mid palate to a very long finish. This appears to have a long life ahead, but it is straight gorgeous right now and honestly much better than I was expecting.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
9/22/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
Rich blackberry liqueur, chambord, creme de cassis and lovely violets on a perfumed nose. Super concentrated and powerful, but done with exceptional balance and grace. Dark blue fruit is well layered with a silky texture that reveals lots of complexity as it transitions from the front to the back of the palate. Refined sweet tannins make this eminently approachable, but the sheer stuffing here will take some to to completely unfurl. Massively long finish. This is still in a mostly primary phase, and will no doubt continue to get better and better over the next 5-10 years. Total class.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
9/20/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Wonderfully expressive aromatics, showing creme de cassis, black currant, vanilla, cedar and forest floor. Very pure and complex, with bitter chocolate, deep mineral driven flavors, herbs and powerful and refined tannins. Appears to be right about in that transition to some tertiary notes, with some roasted coffee and tobacco starting to peak out. Lots of structure for a long life, this shows off a super long finish. Definitely not a fruit forward or overly extracted, which is slightly surprising given the vintage. Excellent wine.
Red
9/14/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Tusk Vertical 2011-2015 plus 2016 L'Orange - W/CSIMM1161; 9/13/2019-9/14/2019 (Seven Hills Restaurant, SF & Tusk Party): This wine was consumed at the Tusk party and not side by side like the 12-15 vintages. Did not take any formal notes, but it left a pretty distinct impression.

An outstanding effort given the vintage. Everything was in great balance. The wine was expressive and wonderfully textured, with soft tannins that made it imminently approachable. There was a bit of the hallmark "green" notes that show up in this vintage, but it was not absent fruit and had some great earthy & mineral driven character. Tertiary notes of tobacco and mushroom also present. Definitely a bit more on the medium bodied and elegant side, this was in a really good place to drink.
Red
9/13/2019 - Cristal2000 wrote:
94 points
Tusk Vertical 2011-2015 plus 2016 L'Orange - W/CSIMM1161; 9/13/2019-9/14/2019 (Seven Hills Restaurant, SF & Tusk Party): This showed the poorest in the lineup of 12-15 vintages. As CSIMM mentions in his note, there was a lot of plum and raspberry. Like the 13 edition, it was missing the trademark silky texture. Unlike the 13 however, this didn't have a big core the unwind, and instead was a bit soft and didn't have a lot going on. Where I can see the 13 coming out of a "dumb" phase here and rocketing back up to great heights, I have a hard time seeing the 12 doing so. That said, this was served warmer than ideal, so that could have played a role.

Plums, raspberries, red licorice and forest floor on the nose. This seemed more red fruited than the others, with soft and approachable tannins. Good level of concentration, but not on the level of the other Tusk wines. Hints of mushroom and a mineral streak run through the core. A bit more medium than full bodied, the energy and freshness was lacking in comparison. Solid if unremarkable finish.
Red
9/13/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
95 points
Tusk Vertical 2011-2015 plus 2016 L'Orange - W/CSIMM1161; 9/13/2019-9/14/2019 (Seven Hills Restaurant, SF & Tusk Party): I was a bit surprised by the showing of the 13 next to the other vintages. I expected it to be at the top, but in the end it was just better than the 12. It was like a less expressive, leaner and more acidic version of the 15. It certainly was not giving up much. I've had some amazing experiences with this wine, and then others like this one where it didn't show nearly as well. Fickle animal.

Showing a nose of tobacco, herbs, blackberries, iron and graphite, this was super tight on the palate. The trademark silky texture was not present and there was some bitterness and biting tannins. The mostly dark fruit was still clearly first rate, but rough around the edges. Unsweetened chocolate and graphite abound. The finish is long but astringent. This was served at a bit higher temperature than ideal, so that could have been part of the story.
Red
9/13/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Tusk Vertical 2011-2015 plus 2016 L'Orange - W/CSIMM1161; 9/13/2019-9/14/2019 (Seven Hills Restaurant, SF & Tusk Party): As noted by CSIMM, it was quite clear when we had 2012-2015 at dinner that the best wines went youngest to oldest. So the 2014 here was the second best wine of the night, and really quite excellent. It reflected the vintage nearly perfectly, with a fun nearly over the top opulence and forward style that is easy to really enjoy.

Expressive black cherries, blackberries, cedar, fresh cut flowers and anise. Big time black and blue fruit envelope the palate immediately, with layer upon layer of fruit and mineral driven flavors hitting all the right notes. Sweet fine grained tannins and silky texture make this a delight to all the senses. It's got great depth of flavor, but perhaps will not be quite as complex and well rounded as the 2015 edition. Great wine.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
9/13/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
99 points
Tusk Vertical 2011-2015 plus 2016 L'Orange - W/CSIMM1161; 9/13/2019-9/14/2019 (Seven Hills Restaurant, SF & Tusk Party): As CSIMM notes, we had this on two separate occasions. Once at dinner next to the 2012-2014 vintages, and then again at the Tusk party. A bit surprising since we expected to get a taste of the 2016, but alas, our hopes were dashed.

The wine showed quite a bit differently at dinner than at the party. My score is primarily based on the restaurant experience, where we had it in a more controlled setting and it was borderline perfection. It easily out did the 2012-2014 wines next to it. At the Tusk party, it showed more oaky and unresolved.

Super rich, with massive depth and concentration, this is a very serious and powerful wine. At the same time, it is silky, with refined and integrated tannins along with nearly perfect texture that makes it glide gracefully across the palate. This showed the best layering of all the vintages, and was really expressive with blackberries, black cherries, violets, herbs and earthy notions. There's a lot of the Pritchard Hill profile - think Colgin or Ovid. That red dirt/volcanic effect. Lasting, super long finish.
Red
2016 Tusk Estates L'Orange Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
9/14/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Tusk Vertical 2011-2015 plus 2016 L'Orange - W/CSIMM1161; 9/13/2019-9/14/2019 (Seven Hills Restaurant, SF & Tusk Party): As CSIMM pointed out in his note, this is a limited edition offering that will be a "gift" to list members at $150. I talked to Michael about it for a little bit and it should be released by the end of the year. Seems like it's a one time deal. Unique for Tusk by adding the 20% PV component, and I have to assume the Cab portion is juice that didn't make it into the final blend of the flagship. That said, you certainly couldn't tell it was a step down during this tasting.

Consumed right after 2015 Tusk, this was more immediately ready to drink and was super expressive, powerful and plush. Dark fruit, forest floor, bit of smoke and char, this showed opulence without being over the top or fruity. Well structured and delineated, it has great depth of flavor and is full bodied with ultra fine grained tannins. As per usual with Melka made wines, the texture is near perfection and the finish lingers for well over 45 seconds. This will be rare and awesome.
White
9/14/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
93 points
Arrow & Branch Tasting - with CSIMM1161 (AB House): This is I believe spent an extra year in barrel over the regular SB. Only 24 cases made. Shows a vibrant yet sophisticated personality, with nice tropical fruit and citrus backed up by wet stone on an expressive nose. Nice depth of flavor for this varietal, it's energetic and fresh while also being elegant and flavorful. A punchy mid pallet gives way to a relatively long and enjoyable finish.
Red
9/14/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Arrow & Branch Tasting - with CSIMM1161 (AB House): AB started sourcing from Vine Hill Ranch in 2017. This will be a great addition to their lineup. It's 100% Cab. Tasted from bottle.

The nose on this wine reminded me a lot of LPV. Lots of smoked meat, charred embers, rich blackberries and scorched earth. On the palate it's rich, nicely layered, with solid tannin structure and a complex, expressive profile. Quite a bit of loamy earth and forest floor notions. Time should be this wine's friend, letting the layers unfold into something special. It's one of the better 2017's I've tasted, with no astringent bitterness linked to smoke taint. I believe this was picked before the fire (for real, not just what they tell you).
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
9/14/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Arrow & Branch Tasting - with CSIMM1161 (AB House): Having this alongside the 2016 vintage was a nice contrast, showing the benefits of age. Nicely complex nose of blackberries, black cherry, loamy soil and embers. This is open for business right now on the palate, with soft and refined tannins shaping the seamless delivery of blue and red pure fruit along with notable mineral driven flavor. It seems to be transitioning to tertiary components, with mushroom, tobacco and some eucalyptus emerging. Nice medium length finish. This is quite a bit softer than the 2016, and it won't reach those heights, but it's still quite delicious.
Red
9/14/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Arrow & Branch Tasting - with CSIMM1161 (AB House): As CSIMM mentioned, this showed quite a bit better than last time we had it, and no doubt this is an age worthy style that's best put in the back for the cellar for a while.

Blackberries, blueberry compote, embers, black licorice, tobacco and violets on the nose. On the palate, this has a rock solid structure, grainy powerful tannins and amazing layering. Black and blue fruit are accompanied by loamy earth and deep mineral driven flavors. Super complex and very long on the finish. This has a lot of upside from here - may end up in the 97-98 range.
Red
2016 Arrow & Branch Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
9/14/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
97 points
Arrow & Branch Tasting - with CSIMM1161 (AB House): I've had the last few vintages of this wine, and this is head and shoulders above the others. Truly an incredible effort and really a superior value at the price point.

A blend of 50% Cab Franc, 24% Merlot, 24% Cab and 2% PV. Nose here is a bit restrained with rose petals, crushed flowers, dark cherries and some spice box peaking out. Once you take a sip, you realize this is a deadly serious wine. Big time depth, power, structure and tannins are immediately apparent. Like the 16 Heritage Franc, this has seamless freshness and wonderful purity, with a brooding black fruit element as a result of the blend. Lots of earthy notions and deep mineral driven flavors help round out a very complex and age worthy wine. I would let these sit for a number of years, as they will almost certainly evolve into something amazing.
Red
9/14/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
96 points
Arrow & Branch Tasting - with CSIMM1161 (AB House): See my tasting note from 2/9/19, as this generally was a similar experience for me. I adore this wine and the only reason I am rating it a point lower than before is I had it next to the 2016 edition, which pointed out some minor shortcomings, mainly of the vintage.

This is a stunning wine aromatically, with such fresh and expressive floral notes to go along with wonderful black cherry fruit. On the palate, it is a bit fruitier and less serious than it's 2016 sibling. It's amazingly pure and fresh and is just a joy to drink, with wonderful round red fruit and that streak of dark chocolate and vanilla that is so intoxicating. Can't go wrong with this wine, but certainly the one to drink earlier if you've got both it and the 2016. Unlikely to be super long lived.
Red
9/14/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
98 points
Arrow & Branch Tasting - with CSIMM1161 (AB House): There are 24 cases of this wine that comes from their home estate in Coobsville. Their first vintage, 2015, was exclusively from older vines in specific rows. For 2016, they incorporated some younger vines, but still only produced 24 cases.

When I had the 2015 version of this wine last year I was completely enamored with its incredible aromatics, purity and overall freshness. On this trip I was fortunate enough to have them side by side. By comparison, the 2016 is a much more serious and powerful wine. The aromatics are a bit more constrained here and it shows more fruit than floral. On the palate this is just an amazing beast, with tons of coiled up black cherry fruit framed in by wonderfully fine grained and powerful tannins. It retains the beautiful purity and wonderful energy of the 2015, but also has significantly more depth. Finishes super long. It's still young and very well structured, so time is going to be your friend here but what a terrific effort.
Red
9/14/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
93 points
Arrow & Branch Tasting - with CSIMM1161 (AB House): This is 100% Cab sourced from Lewelling, Criscione and a small amount of Dr Crane. Nose of black cherries, cassis, baking spice, plums and crushed flowers. Even for it being their entry level wine, this is quite serious on the palate, with tightly wound tannins, good backbone and structure. Medium + bodied, it shows pure powerful blue and red fruit with good depth and layering. The finish is long with nice minerality. It's a little less complex than their other offerings, but it really great for the price point, especially in this vintage. Definite upside.
Red
8/27/2019 - Cristal2000 Likes this wine:
94 points
Notes of licorice, baking spices, blackberries, char, tobacco and hints of smoked meat and loamy earth. This is not nearly as dense, rich and cloying as I've found other young vintages of this wine to be. It is certainly not lightweight, but it shows excellent freshness and energy to go along with well concentrated black and blue fruit. The tannins are prominent but nicely integrated, with a strong backbone of structure. Lots of bitter chocolate and spices mix in with earthy and mineral driven components to give it solid complexity and the ability to age nicely. Definitely not one dimensional, which I think would've been my knock on this wine in the past. The finish is over 45 sec and lasting. This proves to me once again that 2016 is just an epically good vintage.
4 people found this helpful Comment
Red
8/26/2019 - Cristal2000 wrote:
94 points
See my previous review for more descriptors, but I popped this bottle at home to be sure I wasn't misreading it (followed over 3 days), and at least right now it isn't near as strong as 2012-2016. In short, the nose is excellent, it starts nicely and powerfully, but in the mid palate and through the finish there is serious bitterness that takes away from the experience. I am attributing this to being a bit underripe, although you could make other arguments for why this is occurring. Definitely holding out some hope this will moderate over time and perhaps integrate better. My gut tells me it won't happen, but it's wine and there's no doubt I could be wrong. Can use the standard line "it needs time!" :) Never fear, JD will surely make it 99-100.
4 people found this helpful Comments (11)
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