February 7, 2021 - This ripe and round Cabernet is incredibly powerful and tasty right now, but it may need a few more years to hit its stride. Dark purple in color and full in body, the wine offers aromas of blueberry, fruit cake, anise, and menthol. Flavors of boysenberry, gravel, anise, and cherry pie, with a layered and sweet finish that has tannin and acidity. 15.6% alcohol. Decant an hour.
I have my doubts if this is worth the $600 price tag. To be clear, I think there are a handful of wines, given their track record or uniqueness, that can justify this price. The 2012 Tusk is really good - but not really unique. It is ripe, fleshy, polished, and delicious, but so are a lot of Napa 2012s. In the past six months or so, I’ve tasted several 2012s that are more compelling and original (e.g., Futo Oakville, Ovid, VHR) at a half or even a third of the price. 95 at the moment, with potential upside in a few years.
February 2, 2020 - Same notes apply but this time PnP which proves needs more time.
September 25, 2019 - What Csimm said although it opens up muted and tight. Open and give it air. Agree 2012 was a more elegant (not the right word but compared to 2014 works) than the 2014. Great wines- as good as other $500+ wines, jury is still out. Will hold my final opinion until then. Preferred 2014 to 2012. 2013 over both.
September 14, 2019 - Tusk vertical - 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 (Seven Hills restaurant, SF + Tusk party - with Cristal2000): Plum-dominant, with accompanying flavors of black cherry and black/purple berry fruit; wild, macerated raspberry makes a brief appearance, but is pushed over by the earthy plum note that elbows its way through the entire profile from start to finish. More medium-bodied than the other vintages, but sharing a similar (yet much softer) profile with the 2014. Finishes plush and lush, if not a hair flat and fading. It has a little bit of chewiness on the tail, which helps to elongate the experience of a stretched back end, but it is primarily operating with a “medium all the way around” type of demeanor and drive currently.
Full disclosure, temperature was a little warm on service, which surely added to the flavors fanning out in a more horizontal fashion, but after cooling down a bit, it still didn’t show that type of traction and verve the others were able to exhibit. 2012 is an approachable and beautiful wine, if but more soft and feminine overall. With time, this will hopefully fill out even more, but it will likely not have the intensity of its younger siblings. Hold for another few years; it almost seems to be transitioning into a more nuanced and tertiary profile, but it’s not there quite yet.
September 13, 2019 - 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.
July 11, 2019 - P&Ped and tasted alongside Sloan and Futo of the same vintage. Closed somewhat at this stage with restrained fruit. Some green herbal notes. A little gingerbread spices. Shows already great texture and delineated structure on the palate, but with wild acidity and harsh tannins. Could need another 5 years or so to open up and for all the pieces to fall in place. I'm sure a proper 4h decant would already help. There is probably lots of potential here, hope to get a chance to taste again in a few years.
October 4, 2017 - Farmstead BTK Taste-Off (Saint Helena): As with the 2012 Schrader CCS, 2015 Carter OG, and 2015 Realm BTK, the Tusk was competing very well toward the final sips. Initial PnP was extremely tight and almost unforgiving. Super powerful and intense, but striking with a linear slap of higher-toned fruit at first. An almost cranberry-esque tartness sucked the back end dry, clipping the finish. More of a red/black fruit core that struggled to expand. As with the the aforementioned wines, some air helped tremendously. At the first sip of the Tusk, we knew immediately a decant was necessary.
After about two hours in the decanter, the true essence of that wonderful Pritchard Hill fruit started to take shape. Lively black raspberry, black and red cherry, black rock, vanilla extract, and some spice. The entire inside of my mouth was coated with flavor and intensity. It still maintained quite some verve and tension, reminding me it was a young wine that begs for time in the bottle. For those holding bottles, I would recommend not popping the cork on this for another couple of years at least. So much drive on this wine, it just needs to find a more seamless glide at some point as it strives to mature over time.
96-97+ points by the final sips. Good things to come with this wine; it is just going to take some time to get into its rightful groove.
Thanks to Cristal2000 for bringing this very special wine. Quite the sacrifice!
June 10, 2017 - Orange County Napa Cab Taste Off (Lang's House): I've had Tusk a number of times, and this is the first time I've ever had it when it wasn't the best wine at the table. I think that is more a reflection of the other wines than a knock against it, because it was exceptional and one person even had it #1. Overall, it was a consensus 4 of 5.
Amazing Pritchard Hill nose of blackberries, liqueur, forest floor and licorice. The mouthfeel on this wine is amazing, just smooth as silk. Stacked and concentrated with great complexity and a very long finish. Where it lost a couple points is at times it felt a bit flabby compared to the other wines. That said, it was also continuing to get better and better over the 12 hours it was open.
A tremendous wine, but QPR wise struggled against less expensive competition. I'd like to open a 2013 among the same group, because it is noticeably better than the 2012.
October 4, 2016 - A big California Cab, already mature given the lack of tannic build, which I think is part of the design. The highlights for me were the lovely floral aromas, which ranged from the delicate red and pink to the deep purple spectrum. The palate is as one would expect, soft, inviting, ripe, but not gloopy. A nice drink, if over-priced by a factor of at least 2. The EtOH is there, but it's mostly integrated at this point. I wish I could say more about this other than it's nice, but for me, it lacks any truly distinguishing characteristics other than the dreamy nose. This was an after dinner, cocktail wine, and not something I would have wanted with a meal, save some (fatty) grilled red meat, which all too often is the default dish for these kind of wines. Drink now or over the next 10-12 years, not sure it's going to get better, just different.
Served non-blind, my first Tusk, iirc. I liked it for what it is, but at the price, can hardly recommend. Needs: more natural acidity, less manipulation.
September 5, 2016 - Tasted against '12 Schrader Old Sparky, '12 Pott Turf War and '12 Vineyard 29 Estate. Came in #1 - WOTN. Consumed over 10 hours. Dynamic and complex nose of licorice, liqueur, black/blue fruit, tobacco, fresh flowers and pencil shavings. Intense and mind blowing. Really dark fruit. Layers of earthy, mineral driven flavors hit the pallet in waves with a multidimensional mouthfeel. Fine grained and sweet tannins hold a firm backbone of structure. Full bodied mid pallet and incredibly long and pure on the finish of over 45secs. You can tell there is a lot of Prichard Hill going on here. An absolute stunner. 98+