Wine Library Notes

Vertical Tasting Held on November 7, 2022

At the conclusion of harvest each November we look forward to our annual Vertical Tasting, when we come together to enjoy and evaluate 20 vintages of our Estate Cabernet and share our collective thoughts on where each is in its development. At our latest tasting, the Spottswoode team was excited to welcome back our founding winemaker and vineyard manager, Tony Soter. Other esteemed guests included Eric Asimov, Wine Critic for The New York Times, Vanessa Conlin MW, Chief Wine Officer at Wine Access, and Mike Lee CS, Wine Director at La Toque restaurant in Napa. We appreciate and value their palates and the perspectives they brought to our tasting.

It is our hope that these notes are both interesting and helpful to you, and that you have the opportunity to collect and taste many vintages of Spottswoode!

Vintages 2001–2020

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.

2001 Drink/Hold  A wine of triumphant maturity and grace which shows itself beautifully now. It shimmers with flavors of dark cherry and orange pith, rose hip, and leather. Silky. A winding forest path over dried pine needles and damp earth with no end in sight.

2002 Drink  Complexity and balance tie dark plum to baked cherry, rosemary to sage, and tobacco leaf to soy. Consistent, powerful, expressive, and savory, this wine resonates and leaves one enchanted with its elegant and fine-grained finish.

2003 Drink/Hold  Integration of richness and the aromatic sweetness of baked red cherry, blackberry, and savory pomegranate. A carpenter’s shop of cedar dust, burnished leather, and pencil shavings culminate in a stunning black tea finish.

2004 Drink/Hold  Still expressive and as fresh as ever, the 2004 vintage continues its remarkable evolution. Ripe dark plum, blackberry-soaked pie crust, and baked cherry form a dynamic base for the more subtle cola, tobacco leaf, and cedar undertones that carry into its finish.

2005 Drink/Hold  The 2005 vintage flows from one note to the next, in harmony with itself and with its complexity. Aromas of sagebrush, pine forest floor, and graphite lead to a textural body of juicy and darker red fruits, baking spice, and currant.

2006 Drink/Hold  Energetic and powerful, the 2006 vintage is a clean sweep of ripe dark berries, dark cherry, dark chocolate, and black plum. Tobacco leaf, cedar, and gravel notes lead to a firm and tannic finish. Mesmerizing now, it will continue to captivate long into the future.

2007 Drink/Hold  A juicy vibrancy carries this mix of red and dark fruits beautifully toward its dynamic finish. Well-integrated tannins with a lovely earthy finish. Cigar box, pencil shavings, and rose petals foretell that this expressive wine will enjoy a great many years in the cellar.

2008 Drink/Hold  The age-worthy 2008 vintage was signature of both a cooler spring and our winemaker’s deft touch: power with restraint, richness with fine-grained yet powerful tannins. It delights in a simmering tension between red and dark fruits with herbaceous tones full of lavender, thyme, and sage.

2009 Drink/Try  Vibrant and savory, this wine expresses a delicious tension of flavors hinting at a more intriguing future. Dark plum skin and red North Coast cherry, graphite and leather, rosemary and cedar all evolve into a lingering finish. Great tannin structure.

2010 Drink/Hold  Precision and energetic gracefulness are hallmarks of the 2010 vintage. It traverses a path of green pine needles, just-turned earth, and crushed violets. A fresh cherry and red plum juice with a herbaceous and edgy finish of black tea and a nice hint of grip.

2011 Drink/Hold  This cooler vintage reveals subtle undertones of gravel, rosemary, and fresh thyme reminiscent of Old World wines. A wine with bright acid, juicy red fruits, silky tannins, and herbal depth that is intriguing now, but can age for many more years.

2012 Hold/Try  The idyllic 2012 vintage is the epitome of balance. Lavender, cocoa nib, graham cracker crumb, and cedar dust segue to Mount Rainier cherry, blackberry, and purple plum. Its bass notes harmonize in velvety tannins and savory spice. Worth a try to peek at what the future holds.

2013 Hold/Try  A drier year yielded smaller berries on the vine for the 2013 vintage. Their more concentrated fruit resulted in a powerful wine full of dense and lush dark fruit with firm yet fine-grained tannins. A nuanced finish of sage, graphite, leather, and violets bring great complexity to this ageeable vintage.

2014 Hold/Try  A dense and savory combination of ripened dark plum, black cherry, black currant, and mulberry round off with a suggestion of a sweet and floral edge. Layers of clove, chocolate powder, cedar, and toast integrate into a resinous finish.

2015 Hold/Try  An expression of the singular beauty of the Spottswoode Estate terroir, the 2015 vintage showcases its floral side with blue violets, tar, and roses. Juicy red plum, cherry, and blackberry with vanilla and spice carry into an elegant and silky finish.

2016 Hold/Try  Energetic and fresh, the 2016 vintage is hitting its stride with cherry, blackberry, currant, and dark plum notes intertwining with tobacco leaf, sage, vanilla bean, and spice. This wine was born to shine, and it will only continue to blossom in the bottle.

2017 Hold/Try  The resiliency of the Spottswoode Vineyard allowed the vines to hold their own through the challenges of the 2017 vintage and delivered yet another wine for the ages. Cherry, pomegranate, and dark plum are enveloped by notes of cedar, purple violets, lavender, and pine forest. A wine of firm tannin, still young, and poised for growth.

2018 Hold/Try  The beautiful weather of a more moderate growing season yielded a young wine full of potential. A silky and creamy thread of blueberry, yogurt, graham cracker crust, and vanilla blends with the juicy darkness of blackberry and plum, which are kept in check by gravel, graphite, and a full tannin finish.

2019 Hold/Try  The much-heralded 2019 vintage was warm front to back, blessing us with an expansive harvest. It was a winemaker’s dream pick of narrowing down to only the most exceptional clusters. Aromatic and pretty violets linger over vanilla and baking spices. A wine of lush black plum skins, forested expanses, black cherry, and currant, promising to express itself for decades more.

2020 Hold/Try  Young and present, this is an energetic and bold expression of violets, lavender, and cassis mixed with dark chocolate, cherry, plum, and graphite. A wine happy to be tucked away in the cellar, and it’s also expressing itself beautifully now.