Vertical Tasting Held on November 16, 2011
1995DRINK!Showing its age—subtle, somewhat delicate, and a bit reticent, but possesses warmth, dimension, and attractive characters: dried rose, anise, cherry, tobacco, soy, a hint of tar and ash, Asian five-spice, cheese-rind, orange zest, sage, and sandalwood. Keith dubbed this wine, “An elegant, old knightly gentleman. Quintessential aged Spottswoode.” There was some debate about whether to drink or hold this vintage—some of us felt that the old gentleman was perhaps taking a nap and would be refreshed upon wakening, but overall we would recommend enjoying now.
1996DRINK/HOLDQuiet, but pretty. Aromas of ginger spice, sugar cookies, sweet balsamic, candied apple, cassis, dried lavender, and clove. A red fruit core is enveloped by attractive oak and floral notes, along with a hint of white pepper. Nice texture and balance, a soft, silky palate, Rosemary thought almost Burgundian in its mouthfeel. A ripe, sweet long finish. A bit muted this year—we think this wine has more to give. Beth described some “floral flashes,” hinting at layers underneath, but thought the wine had “hunkered down.” We think promise remains for this always-mysterious vintage to reveal more of its lovely characters.
1997DRINKBroad and expansive—lots going on in this wine, with smells and flavors running a wide gamut. A mix of aged and youthful characters. A slightly gamey nose, with cherry, plum, pomegranate and hints of maple syrup, rose, dried citrus, cheese rind, leather, soy, herbs, Christmas potpourri, spice, and tar. Showing some age, yet still lively. Substantial tannins, bold acidity, a lot of grip. Ripe, both aromatically and on the palate. We love this vintage, but we are not certain about its longevity; we thus recommend drinking.
1998DRINK/HoldShowed beautifully this year. Red currant and pomegranate, anise, tar, spice, mushroom, olive, menthol, black tea, sage, and mint. Savory, a touch gamey and earthy, great structure, with a wonderful, delicate acid-tannin balance. A slight sweetness and a sense of opulence, soft and warm with a lighter profile and some discernible minerality and underlying green notes. Expressive. At the top of its game. Great food wine.
1999HOLDA bit closed at first, but very pretty with great depth and a multitude of layers. Youthful, vibrant, almost playful. Refreshing and lively, yet powdery at the same time, with lots of deep blueberry, plum, cola, coffee, cocoa, mocha, spice, graphite, chapparal, and forest floor. Fabulous texture and body, with good structure and acidity and a lot of staying power. A sweet core, some nice oak notes, and a meaty component make this a multifaceted, enticing wine. Amazing balance and elegance. A keeper.
2000DRINK/HOLDThis wine represents a slight departure from our other vintages—always recognizable because of its trademark earthy and barnyard aromas, bolstered by a sweet fruit core. The wine elicits a wide variety of responses—it is always a great conversation piece. Tobacco, dried flowers, freshly sawed lumber, soy, eucalyptus, cheese rind, rose petal, cr?me br?l?e, almond paste. Distinct, has a big personality, a sweet note, and packs a lot of fruit and complexity. Warm palate, rich and smooth, with the right amount of heat and weight. Expressive. Bordeaux-like. A great food wine.
2001Drink/HOLDPretty, perfumey, floral. Dark and somewhat brooding, yet enticing. Deep blueberry, blackberry and plum laced with an appealing dose of Spottswoode’s characteristic spice. Mocha powder, coffee, vanilla, a hint of tar, pepper, cola, brown sugar, forest floor, flowers. Nice tannins, lovely oak integration. Long and layered. Rich, mouthwatering, drinkable. Great balance. A powerful wine, displaying both aged and youthful characters.
2002Drink/HOLDShowing some age (as it did last year), with black fruit enhanced by earthier, more savory components: black and green tea, tar, mint, dusty rosemary, hay, dried brush, a dash of tomato, some slightly stewed aromas. This was a ripe vintage, and the wine is fairly fleshy, with nice tannins, great texture, and a juicy acidity. Brett thought it had a “deliciously abundant palate, like a river of ripe blackberries.”
2003Drink/HOLDA favorite this year—great flavors and tremendous balance! Cherries jubilee, cooked fruit, dusty rose, vanilla, licorice, peppermint, soy, charcoal, brush, pepper, olive, and marmalade. Juicy, lively acid, yet plush and velvety. A sweet core. Rich and powerful. A wonderful meshing of older and younger characteristics.
2004Try/HOLDAlso a favorite. Rich, ripe nuances. Showing hints of age—savory and sweet at the same time. A jammy nose of berry and cranberry, caramel, sea salt, beeswax, graphite, black tea, smoke, tobacco, grilled herbs and bread, a whiff of marjoram. Plum and bramble on the palate; deep, vigorous tannins, a velvety texture with a long, toasty finish. Broad and well-rounded, with great balance and deep flavors.
2005TRY/HOLDLots going on in this wine. Brett dubbed it “Mr. Toad's Wild Ride,” meaning you’re not sure what’s coming next. Intriguing. Dense, inky, big, yet elegant. Bright and spicy. Blackberry and cherry, apple spice, orange zest, cassis, plum, maple, balsamic, toast, hints of chocolate, mint, and flowers. Keith said it was like “walking through an Istanbul spice market.” Refined tannins, a tight, dark structure; appetizingly smooth without being weighty. Amazing vintage—compelling!
2006Try/HOLDA mix of reactions to this wine. Some of us loved it; some of us found it to be more tannic and not quite resolved. It is a youngster, after all. Great depth in the nose, with blueberry, cherry, underbrush, white pepper, dried potpourri and lavender, cinnamon, mocha, pastry crust, cr?me br?l?e, cedar, cooked meat, and leather. A core of ripe black cherry, with a dark chocolate, grippy finish. Savory and sweet at the same time. Good balance. A sense of edgy ripeness.
2007Try/HOLDGenerous, showy, forward, inviting. Ripe, concentrated, warm. A jammy medley of raspberry, blackberry, and cherry fruit, with white and black pepper, flowers, cream, Asian spice, plum, and dried mint. A complex mid-palate that is less about fruit and more about texture and spice. Lovely balance, weight, and texture. Dense and warm. On a youthful trajectory with some evolving qualities. We liked this wine a great deal—okay, a lot!
2008HOLDFresh and young, still showing some baby fat and appealing, creamy oak. Graham cracker, baking spices, orange pekoe, pencil lead, glycerine, clove, peanut butter, rose petal, violets, cedar, tar, and smoke. All John said was “Pancakes with melted butter and cassis syrup,” after which he set his pencil down so he could just savor the wine. Amazing density. A sweet core. Condensed, smooth, and rich. Pretty mouthfeel with a hint of salt, cherry, and black olive on the finish. Very well-integrated. We all agreed—a lovely wine.