Wines > Wine Library Notes

Christie Dufault

Christie Dufault, Bay Area sommelier and wine educator, decants the Estate Cabernet in the Spottswoode winery.

Vertical Tasting Held on November 8, 2016

On a lovely late autumn day this past November, we came together, as we do annually, to taste through 15 vintages of our Estate Cabernet in order to provide you with our collective impressions of our wines. Each year we ask friends and colleagues to participate in this endeavor, as outside palates offer us great insights—they bring a perspective that is different from our “house palates” and we always learn a great deal. This year we were honored to welcome Kerrin Laz (K Laz Wine Collection), Victoria Kulinich (wine director, Meadowood), Amanda McCrossin and Gillian Dougherty (sommeliers, Press Restaurant), and Martin Reyes (Master of Wine candidate and wine consultant). We included Rob MacCulloch MW and Yianni Stoner, our 2016 harvest interns, and Sara Beer, our new California wine broker, as well. Along with the entire Spottswoode team. We are very happy to be able to share these tasting notes with you, to assist you as you determine which Spottswoode Cabernet vintages to enjoy next!

First Flight (2000–2006)
Beautiful wines. All very vibrant and fresh, with incredibly unique, well-developed personalities. The Spottswoode elegance carries through all of the wines, plus the trademark minerality and balance.

Second Flight (2007–2014)
A lovely, exciting group of wines with immense potential.

D Best in Show
Because wines continue to evolve over time, our impressions vary each year. In this tasting, the group particularly enjoyed the wines marked with our Black Labrador symbol.

 

Vintages 2000–2013

2000 Drink/Hold Bright and lifted, with dried herbs and baking spices. Cedar, cigar box, eucalyptus, earth, olive, pine, and tobacco aromas blend with ripe blackberry and cassis fruit proffering a forward, distinctive nose. Hints of char and saddle leather add dimension. A long finish, with bright acid and fine powdery tannins. Elegant and balanced.

D 2001 Drink A lovely nose full of red fruit and sweet spice. Rich and perfectly ripe. Elegant yet firm tannins, and wonderful weight and viscosity. Warm aromas of coffee, caramel, leather, cedar, graphite, saline, and soy. A fresh palate with great acidity—well-integrated, seamless and silky. Attractive maturity, while still bright and round. A gorgeous, aged Cabernet.

D 2002 Drink/Hold Big and youthful, dark and saturated, leading with full deep blue and black fruit. Aromas backed with cedar, clove, espresso, sandalwood, carob, and a hint of black olive. Somewhat brooding, with great intensity, offering sweet, warm, cooked berry fruit. A full palate that matches the nose. Very mouth-filling, with firm-yet-supple tannins and a long finish. Still very youthful, yet elegant.

2003 Drink/Hold A fresh nose with lots of red fruit up front, and hints of violet, rose, cocoa, cedar, vanilla, coffee, brown sugar, roasted nuts, menthol, dried herbs, and undertones of wet stone. Nice balance of fruit and savory elements. Tannins are well-structured with great texture. Great tension between acid, fruit, and tannin. Supple and silky. Lively, complex, and balanced. Has evolved beautifully.

D 2004 Drink/Hold Generous and rich. Deep, juicy, concentrated, and lush. Macerated ripe, red berries, chocolate and floral notes, blackberry jam and sweet vanilla, with hints of licorice, dried rose petal, tobacco, and earth. Like a mixed berry pie, warm out of the oven. A full, rich, pleasing palate featuring slightly dusty but long, elegant, mouth-coating tannins. A very generous vintage.

2005 Drink/Hold A nice display of ripe, red and black fruit flavors and aromas, complemented by roasted pumpkin, cedar, sage, and lavender. Gleaming acidity makes the wine lively. Savory and round, with a warm texture and a long finish. A delightfully enigmatic vintage.

2006 Hold A ripe nose with a candied, almost spiced, overlay. The rich red cherry fruit offers a beautiful foundation for flavors of game, leather, tar, and forest floor. Like Thanksgiving in a glass. Well structured firm tannins, yet elegant. Dense and powerful. Has great staying power. Requests time.

2007 Hold Attractive, lightly maturing aromas of coffee and menthol integrate with the developing warm red fruit flavors. Hints of saline, olive, truffle, soy, leather, sage, and fresh herbs. Bold tannins ask for time to further integrate. More time needed.

D 2008 Hold Dark, brooding, and intense. A nice combination of sweet fruit and savory elements. Ripe, jammy black fruit with some spiced, exotic Christmas cake aromas melding with leather, black olive, black pepper and sea salt, coffee grounds, and forest floor. A beautiful spectrum of flavors. A dense core with great structure. Firm tannins and a lengthy finish. The wine opens up in the glass, at this stage however, patience is asked for!

2009 Hold Young, fresh, bright, and intense, and yet the nose is a touch reserved—the wine has landed on the right side of ripe, with rich blue and red fruit and plum notes. Chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, with ash, bramble, and floral undertones. Lovely balance and great intensity, with a long, smooth finish. Pretty tannins are youthful and not fully developed. We think this wine asks for some further cellar time.

D 2010 Try/Hold Tasting favorite  A powerful, resinous, complex nose that combines a deep full core and savory notes in a wonderful, enticing medley. Spicy red and blue fruit, vanilla, clove, bread pudding, ginger, and gentle green characters, with lovely undertones of coffee and baker’s chocolate and a hint of savory dried herb and olive. A powerful, dark black fruit palate, with quite a heady quality. Silky and elegant, with firm yet velvety tannins. Powerful, yet beautifully integrated. Utterly delicious now, but a long life ahead too.

2011 Hold Beautifully full, ripe-fruited, youthful nose, with an overlay of spice and some underlying savory leather and game notes. Fresh, expressive and juicy, featuring some attractive green notes reminiscent of sweet eucalyptus, and fresh oregano. Hints of chocolate, dark coffee, forest floor, cedar, and anise. Slightly lighter body, but there is still substance and a meatiness to the wine that carries through the long finish. A classically styled Cabernet. This wine opened up a great deal in the glass, reflecting the benefits of offering it some time and air. A lovely expression of our vineyard in a cooler growing year. Good aging potential.

D 2012 Try/Hold Intense and primary, exuding a vibrant, high-toned, youthful nose full of blueberry pie, cream, and vanilla. Carob, chocolate, rose petal, and black olive notes. A wonderful medley of sweet and savory components. Simultaneously generous and fresh, with full-throttle fruit. Juicy yet retains bright acidity. All components are engaged. This Beauty Queen is well balanced, with great structure. Very friendly and accessible right now, though age-worthy too.

2013 Hold A latticework of power, structure, and flavor. Fresh and youthful, with great density. Primary and lifted, yet the nose remains a bit restrained. Still, a wealth of young, fresh blue fruit flavor comes through, as well as some cassis, cocoa, lavender, floral, and resinous pine notes. Ripe, smooth and very balanced. Structured, tightly wound tannins are simultaneously spicy and silky. Weighty and intense—a big wine with great aging potential.

Vintages 1982-1999
“Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery seems to be an anomaly in the early days of the 21st century. Unwaveringly for the last quarter century it has sought a sameness of what this remarkable site displays. The quest has been successful: The wine shows terroir.”

Dan Berger, Appellation America: Spottswoode Estate, Keepers of the Terroir

Christie Dufault

Christie Dufault, Bay Area sommelier and wine educator, decants the Estate Cabernet in the Spottswoode winery.

“Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery seems to be an anomaly in the early days of the 21st century. Unwaveringly for the last quarter century it has sought a sameness of what this remarkable site displays. The quest has been successful: The wine shows terroir.”

Dan Berger, Appellation America: Spottswoode Estate, Keepers of the Terroir

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