Wine Library Notes

Vertical Tasting Held on November 13, 2023

We always look forward to our annual Vertical Tasting at the conclusion of harvest, when we come together as a group 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 welcomed Jonathan Cristaldi, Napa Correspondent for Decanter, and Editor-at-Large of Tasting Panel and SOMM Journal. Other guests included a few of our esteemed business colleagues, Dylan Amos, Wine Director of The Emeril Group, Luigi Beltrami Chianelli, Wine Director of Gruppo Chiarello, and Erle Martin, Executive Vice President Business Development at Winebow. 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 inspiring to you, and that you have the opportunity to collect and taste many vintages of Spottswoode!

Vintages 2002–2021

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.

2002 Drink  This wine is characterized by a precision and purity that carries throughout the palate. Medium-bodied, with red fruit and a cool-minty freshness. Notes of brown sugar, sage, and tobacco. Generous and soft with berry compote notes framed by chalky tannins, which build on the long finish. This wine has hit its stride as a perfectly aged Spottswoode.

2003 Drink/Hold  A pure and elegant wine that is soft and gentle on the palate with chalky tannins. Pretty layers of Amaro liqueur, dried herbs of bay laurel, rosemary, and lavender, red fruits, and florals. Still developing. The 2003 perfectly balances acidity with tannins with a nice weight and density that promises to age well. Magical.

2004 Drink/Hold  Dark blue fruits such as blackberry and black currants dominate this particular vintage. Beautifully mysterious, this wine is soft, gentle, and warm in the mouth with tones of red currant and black cherry washing across the palate. Soft, textured, compact tannins continue to build into a warm finish with a burst of toasty spices.

2005 Drink  Opulent and ripe with powdery tannins, this wine is warm and earthy and became increasingly expressive as it opened up in the glass. Aromas of cinnamon, cloves, and baking spices are followed by licorice and leather. Dried rose-petal potpourri leads to a powdery elegance and delicate creaminess. This wine is layered and gorgeous and ready to enjoy now.

2006 Drink  This wine has it all and is in an amazing place. A savory nose of tobacco, cigar box, earth, and currants lead to a palate that displays lovely well-integrated tannins. Warm red fruits with cassis and a hint of balsamic make this a beautifully evolved, integrated, and seductive wine.

2007 Drink/Hold  Solid extraction and rich aromatics abound in this intensely expressive wine. Nicely developed with a sense of freshness and juiciness that continues to prevail. A sense of fresh oak and developing tertiary characters of both black and red fruit, black cherry, cassis, spicy paprika, cedar, and tobacco. This wine is giving and generous and builds on its finish.

2008 Drink/Hold  A compact, tightly knit wine with flavors and aromas of dried lavender and sage. Juicy, red-toned fruit on the palate with currants, sweet pipe tobacco, light umami character, dark chocolate, cacao, and espresso. Giving and generous, with plush tannins, this wine was a bit of a chameleon and evolved in the glass. It has beautiful structure and tension and will have more to show with time.

2009 Drink/Hold  Silky, with a great mouthfeel and nice, finely grained tannins that mingle with a juicy blood orange acidity. An elegant and herbaceous nose of cedar incense. The palate leads with notes of pretty wild strawberries and crunchy black fruit. Complementary flavors buttress each other, completing this layered and structured wine. Lovely tension, balance, and harmony.

2010 Drink/Hold  The 2010 is in an amazing spot – just beginning to show tertiary characters – and is a standout for its generosity. This hedonistic wine continues to display a beautiful marriage of new and old. Expressive notes of ripe black fruit, fresh red fruit, blackberries, cassis, dried herbs, black plum, currants, nutmeg, and rich toasty oak. This wine is plush and velvety, creamy, and balanced, and has great grip and fine-grained tannins.

2011 Drink/Hold  Dark red fruit–dominant and showy, this vintage continues to hold well with a very nice weight and viscosity. It is super fresh and clean, with a fragrant nose. Notes of red bell pepper and a blast of cassis join hints of lovely black currant, leather, nutmeg, and spicebush (citrusy herbal) aromatics. Robust, powerful tannins rein in the wine, which evolves in the glass.

2012 Drink/Hold  Densely packed. Wow! This super deep and expressive vintage has a firm backbone of racy acidity and pure fruit notes of blackberry and cassis. Pixelated tannins form a solid foundation, hitting every point of the palate. Chocolate and espresso notes join dark minerals and savory characteristics of umami, grilled or roasted wagyu, and cool notes perfectly balanced by beautiful acidity.

2013 Hold/Try  An intriguing nose invites you into this powerful wine. An explosive palate of balanced blue, black, and red fruits, the 2013 has a great personality with intensity and tannins that continue to build. It exhibits lots of structural integrity and remains quite tight, with a dense, compact core. Polished now but could use some more time in your cellar to open up.

2014 Drink/Hold  An “overachiever,” the 2014 is just singing now but is poised to be expressive for decades. A favorite vintage of the team, this wine has an earthy nose and a beautiful balance of black and red fruits with a freshly baked herbaceous edge and notes of spicy plum. This wine is a bit tightly wound while still possessing a seamless quality. It is velvety, rich, dense, and balanced. So much now, with more to come!

2015 Hold/Try  Juicy and alive, this is a fresh interpretation of Spottswoode Estate Cabernet. Red cherry and dark-berry fruit notes, firm tannins, and excellent grip. Some sweetness and vanilla oak. Herbal notes in its medium finish. Floral and perfumed, the 2015 is in a great spot now but still compact and coiled – it needs more time to unwind.

2016 Hold/Drink  Possessing amazing energy and brightness, this wine is both pretty and dynamic, offering aromas of florals, bay laurel, sagebrush, and cedar. Expressive acidity and a stunning purity of black- and blue-skinned fruits round out this compelling vintage that displays tension and pure harmony.

2017 Hold/Drink  An intense, powerful, and seamless expression of Cabernet with a lovely palate and a deep core. This impressive wine emits warm and earthy tones, notes of strawberry yogurt, ample black fruits, cedar, baking spices, molasses, graphite, and dried herbs. The 2017 is beautiful now and promises to shine for decades.

2018 Hold  Young and powerful with a polished palate, the dark fruits and fine tannins continue to integrate. Pretty anise, Christmas spices, savory licorice, sagebrush, and chalky minerals. Burly tannins provide ample grip, and a presence of cooling acidity brings a welcome sensation of freshness and lift. This wine will only continue to blossom in the bottle. Quintessential Spottswoode.

2019 Hold/Try  Plush, racy, long, and lean, the 2019 shines with a youthful exuberance that is bursting with freshness. An aromatic signature of violets, cream, expressive purple florals with blue and black fruits on its full-bodied palate are framed by satiny textured tannins. This wine is superbly balanced. So delicious now yet asks for time in the cellar.

2020 Try/Hold  The 2020 is packed with structure and mouth feel. A stunning and unctuous wine. The viscosity is complemented by notes of exotic red berry fruit, red tight-grained tannins, cedar, lovely acid tension, and impressive grip. This beautifully compact wine is full of wonderful layers of fruit that are waiting to explode.

2021 Try/Hold  Stunning! Beautiful aromatics of candied violet, blackberry, blueberry yogurt, and cassis. Powerfully expressive with sturdy, firm tannins, generous acidity, and a long lively finish marked by cedar and toffee notes. An elegant vintage, this spectacular wine captures the essence of the Spottswoode Estate Vineyard. It is fresh and youthful now with a long life ahead.