January 29, 2020 - Much less of the rocket propulsion drive when compared to last year. Instead, this LPV impresses for its chewy black core and namesake minerality that make for a go-go gothic profile that can’t help but collide hedonism with just enough sophistication that it keeps its focus on track. It’s a big wine, but especially after three hours in the decanter, it wasn’t about just power and yum. It began to show an enveloping characteristic that slathered the palate in a sexy, inviting way...with intent. Still a little unresolved; so, a wine worth holding a couple more years minimum.
In that 95-97+ point range for me right now as it continues on its journey.
January 2, 2020 - Opened a 2016 Quivet Cellars Beckstoffer Las Piedras and a 2016 Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon to kick off the New Year with a bang. These are two of the most well-regarded vineyards in Napa lined up in a head to head matchup. Pricewise, the Quivet is the underdog, although the Cliff Lede is itself a value leader from To-Kalon.
On the nose, the Quivet was earthy, steeled, and alcohol-soaked. The attack was encouraging and had authority. The mid-palate delivered power and depth with weight. This is a concentrated, full wine, representing well the winemaker Mike Smith and the fruit from this fabled terroir. There's plenty of earth and minerality in the Quivet though the oak-filled notes I got a year ago have subsided. That's diminished the complexity somewhat at this point because the fruit is currently dominating, but there's enough structure here to sustain development over the next several years at least. Try now with a two hour decant. 96+
The Cliff Lede nose really soared with dark berries, tobacco, and cedar. The attack was completely satisfying because it effortlessly introduced its power and purity, then magnificently framed and reinforced that power and purity though the mid-palate. Effortless and To-Kalon are almost never synonymous early-on but here it is. I'm not actually looping a synth track right now but the finish ended with power and purity. Complex, pure; an exceptional performance. This is a special wine that has a wonderful future, and is great now with a decant of an hour or so. 98+
December 20, 2019 - Coravin Pour. Dark, dense, fruit forward. Decent acidity and balance with a very substantial finish. Still something is missing for this to be a next level wine. Nose was masked by alcohol but showed some notes of boysenberry and vanilla. Bottom line is this is a very good experience at this point but still not fully together. I would give at least a year. 93 now but a point or two more in there when it gets to its best drinking point.
October 29, 2019 - I decided to taste the 2016 and 2017 Quivet Piedras next to each other, in the name of science and all that. The conclusions: neither was great; both need time; and each are as good as (and probably the only ones) you’ll get out of LPV for $125. Still, let’s not sugarcoat things: the 2016 was plainly better, with more integration, depth, and balance. The 2017 was thinner, more straightforward, and less impressive. Oh, the vintages! Here are the notes:
- 2016: Light purple in color; full in body; nose of boysenberry, graphite, and fresh embers (really, this was the one that seemed more grainy, almost smokey, like a barbecue potato chip, as opposed to the 2017, which just seemed a bit too clean). Tastes of sour cherry, pencil lead, espresso, and baking spices, with a grainy yet sweet finish. 15.1% alcohol. 93+ for now, since it still seems a bit rustic and unformed. Decant at least a few hours. Best in 2021 or later.
- 2017: Similarly light purple in color, this wine is more light in body - there are no teardrops on glass like with the 2016, and its mouthfeel is more skim as opposed to 2%. The aromas, too, are bit more diffuse, with vague notes of black cherry and cardamon (and, really, I’m straining to find those). The tastes, too, seem superficial, with notes of blueberry skins, crushed raspberries, peppercorn, and fruit cake, with a spiny and bright finish (far lighter than the 2016). 15.1% alcohol. 90-91 for now. Best in 2022 or later, though I’m not sure if it will ever quite get there.
The fruit in the 2016 was a bit chunky, and the fruit in the 2017 was a bit anemic. In other words, the 2016 needs time to lose weight, while the 2017 needs time to gain it. It was interesting how neither offered the pronounced chocolate notes that many providers (like Carter, Fait-Main, or Vice Versa) offer to go with the gravelly tastes of LPV. Maybe the 2017 will someday find its footing, but - right now - there’s no doubt the 2016 is the more promising wine.
July 23, 2019 - Really good wine that just needs more time. Blue and black fruits are plentiful. Just kind of one dimensional - that would be the "in your face" dimension. But so delish none the less. With time has 2 points (maybe 3) upside potential. Will try to wait a few years before revisiting.
July 21, 2019 - Purple fruit - currants/cassis, blackberry, dark raspberry, and a little blueberry. Solid depth/concentration, however, it came across a little tart and tannic. Tried to pop/pour but I didn't care for how it was showing so I threw it in a decanter for around one hour. A little improvement but still never fully came around. Put most of it away for day two.
Day two, big improvement - really smooth (seamless from beginning to end) and the tartness/tannicity did subside. In consideration of how it showed on day one, I believe this vintage needs some time which isn't a surprise in light of its youth. I'm going to lay my other bottles down for a year. 96 on day two and 93 on day one. 100% cab.
July 2, 2019 - Wow....loads of blueberry up front on the nose and in the mouth. Feels much lighter in weight in the mouth than other LPVs we've had. Great fruit nonetheless with moderate complexity but seems to be lacking a layer or two over time in the glass. Only a hint of lilacs on the nose noted as improvement over 1-2 hours. This is a very nice wine but a few points below both the B Cellars and Carter versions, IMO. Really should be a 94.575......just a whisker below the Dakota Shy tonight due to layering. Thanks for sharing, Jimbo!
May 20, 2019 - Popped, poured but this bottle was not ready, it needed some air, it showed a bit restricted, tight and slightly acidic, so I nursed a glass, but it never really opened up to my satisfaction. Day two showed significant improvement. On the nose, soft violets, dark purple blue color. A big Cab with nice ripe blue and blackberry fruit, sweet cassis and dark currants. This 2016 shows nice extraction, beautiful fruit purity with a hint of oak. This is another excellent Las Piedras Cab that l really enjoy. I must say that the last bottle l opened was more enjoyable, sometime it just goes that way l guess. 96+ Points.
March 23, 2019 - Decided to revisit for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Dark purple fruit - blackberry, dark currants, dark cherry, and a little dark raspberry. Smooth mid-palate coupled with a nice purity, however, I thought the fruit came across a little bigger/fuller around four months ago - medium plus body. Nice rich flavors of dark berries, some spice box/licorice, and a fairly prominent mineral/graphite component. Fairly long finish. Popped/poured but drank out of a decanter for a couple hours. Improved with time and took around one hour to open-up. WA anticipated maturity 2020 to 2048 which I can't argue to give it a little more time for the fruit to soften/open-up some more, however, I thought this vintage was drinking quite well after the one hour decant. 96/97 - more or less in line with the 96+ rating from WA. 100% cab.
February 27, 2019 - Drank next to 2016 Bard, 2011 Carter 3 kings.
This 2016 LPV is starting to come together. It has powerful fruit but still in danger of some cocktail wine characteristics. Although the perception of RS has lessened since the last time I tried it. This wine has nice supportive acidity and thus avoids any sense of flabbiness.