2006 Viña Cobos “Cocodrilo” Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $15.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Paul Hobbs Imports

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “The big pull for this wine has always been that it is made by the seemingly infallible Paul Hobbs, and that surely hasn’t changed. The other big pull is that it has always been the tastiest of Cabs from Mendoza. Full of the polish and sweet ripeness that Hobbs is know for this is packed with slick, creamy currant puree, unsweetened black chocolate, and loveable mouth-filling texture. Compare this to his cabs out of Napa for $60+ and you have yourself a bargain.” (Bryan Brick, K&L)

What I Think:

As easy sale for me, everything Hobbs touches goes for a mint. To get my hands on this one even at the upper end of my personal price range was a no brainer. The first bottle knocked my socks off. Robust and smooth at the same time if that even makes sense. Loads of dark fruit on a chocolate back bone that last forever. The finish could not be smoother or longer. I put another case in the cellar. This could compete with the Ridge for the best bottle I’ve had since starting this blog!

Rating: Cellar It

2004 Rosenblum “Heritage Clone” San Francisco Bay Petite Sirah

Price: $14.99 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines 92 points Robert Parker: “There are nearly 10,000 cases of the stunning 2004 Petite Sirah Heritage Clone. A dense ruby/purple hue is accompanied by glorious aromas of creme de cassis, vanilla, incense, crushed rocks, blackberries, and smoke. It is a full-bodied, tannic, chewy, rich, pedal-to-the-metal effort with low acidity as well as ripe tannin. The latter two components will make it difficult to resist, but it should age well for 15-20 years.” (08/06)

What I Think:

First off, I apologize for the time between posts. The good news is that I haven’t stopped drinking so there is a backlog that I will try to empty as quickly as possible. Given that, my notes on some may be briefer than normal so bear with me. Now to the wine…

My brother-in-law from Germany came over a few weeks ago for desert. He enjoys wine and even owns a portion of a vineyard in his home country. As I mentioned when tasting the 2005 version of this wine I have almost 3 cases of it in the cellar. Given that I was so impressed I figured it would have half a shot of doing the same with him.

This wine is big, full and even looking at it you can tell by the dark color heavy in alcohol (15%+). On the nose you get just about anything under the sun mild earthy notes to plum through darker fruits before finishing with some chocolate aromas. On the tongue it is silky smooth and very bold, it has rich velvety fruit with smoky overtones. It feels like you can almost chew on this wine. The fruit last through the mid-palate and into the finish before giving way to tannins which are held in balance by what you have just experienced.

Given my interest in aging this wine, as I drank this I tried to imagine how it will continued to develop in the bottle. Parker says it should last for 15-20 years. I am guessing that it will begin to mellow, the fruit, the tannins, the heavy alcohol. I wonder if I will like that better than it is now. Likely I have enough to try it both ways…

Rating: Cellar It

2003 Ridge York Creek Zinfandel

Price: $30.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “2003 Zinfandel, York Creek, bottled May 2005
84% zinfandel, 16% petite sirah

Since 1999, this dry-farmed Spring Mountain vineyard has produced a series of opulent, late-picked wines. In this vintage, weather conditions and close attention to varying ripeness within each block have resulted in a zinfandel reminiscent of the seventies and eighties, more in the style of a fine table wine. The eight parcels fermented separately on their natural yeasts, and were pressed at eight days; a natural malolactic finished in four weeks. The firm structure of this classic York Creek required extended barrel aging. Beautifully balanced and approachable now, it will benefit from a year or two in bottle, and develop fully over the next ten years. PD/EB (2/05)”

What I Think:

I can count the number of times that I have paid more than $25 for a bottle of wine on one hand. Before finding this one the amount that I thought were worth it didn’t even require a hand to count on. This was my second, yes I bought two at once, and last bottle of this wine. I had it for the first time a few years back at their tasting room in Sonoma. Shortly before visiting I had read a story about “field blended” wines, which are quite hard to find and usually pricey, and the difference from the normal blends you see on the shelf at the store. A normal blend, to me, is almost scientific. Each grape in the blend is grown individually in different vineyards (or at least separate parcels at the same one), harvested individually and barreled individually until it becomes time to put it in the bottle. At this time, we begin playing science. Let’s try a bit of this, a bit of that until we get it right then voila! We have our blend. This is obviously a laymen’s impression of how this works, I am sure it is much more difficult and requires much more attention than indicated here but I obviously have a bias here. The field blends on the other hand were planted that way. When you get out in the vineyard they are all mixed up, no separate parcels here. You have them all growing intermixed, they are all harvested together, barreled together, aged together until they find their way to the bottle. In this case it seems you get what you get!

And with this wine you sure do get it! In a word, Awesome! This is likely the best bottle of wine I have ever had. I enjoyed it so much I didn’t even really want to take the time to analyze why I was doing so. The nose is full of dark fruit and very inviting. The structure is round, rich, plush any good word you can think of. This wine is perfectly balanced and integrated, showing layers upon layers of varying flavors and complexity. The finished is smooth, long and lasting. I had the wine a week ago and I can almost still taste it. My friend, whom we had over to dinner that night, remarked that it was better than most of the $100 bottles he had and he has had plenty! A few days later we went to the store and split a case of the 2004! It is going to take a lot of restraint to leave those alone! I would have loved to see what this wine is like in a few more years. The winery still has the ’03 available, maybe I will swing by. If you want to splurge, this is money well spent.

Rating: Cellar It

2004 Owen Roe Abbot’s Table

Price: $25.00 @ Adventures In Wine

What They Said:

Per the winery “This is our most popular wine and for good reason. It is such a rich, yet easy drinking red wine that can be paired with the broadest range of foods. The Zinfandel component pairs beautifully with zesty Italian fare. The Bordeaux varieties scream for hearty beef dishes. While the Pinot Noir makes the Abbot’s Table perfect with lamb and game. Of course, the Syrah and Grenache work masterfully with spicy cuisine. Then again, the Abbot’s Table just tastes great by itself.

Abbot’s Table is inspired by what the English call Claret – a rich red blend from Bordeaux. The Anglo / Bordelais wine trade of Claret (Clairet or clear wine) dates back to medieval times when the wine was pale in color from a shorter time on the red skins (ours is definitely not light in color). More than half of the blend of Abbot’s Table is the Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc – it’s the non-traditional Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Syrah that make this wine so drinkable.

Drink now or hold up to five years in your cellar. 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.6% Syrah, 13% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 8% Zinfandel, 4.5% Grenache, 3.4% Malbec, 3% Pinot Noir, 1.5% Counoise”

What I Think:

Allow me to reuse this intro posted when I had the 2005 a few weeks back; “I still remember the first time I had this wine. Chez Papa in Potrero Hill. We had some friends in from out of town and were asking the waitress for recommendations and she pulled this one on me. At the time, and to some degree still, I was skeptical of blends, this one perhaps more so because of the sheer variety of grapes. As I didn’t want to have to deal with the fall out of ordering a crappy bottle after turning down the recommendation I ordered it. Boy was I surprised. Shortly after that I found their distributor here in the bay area and grabbed a case.”

My experience with the 2005 was slightly on the disappointing side so I was curious to see whether my perception of the 2004 would suffer from a halo effect. With my mom in town and meat loaf on the table it seemed like the right time to find out. All I can say is “Wow”! This wine once again knocked my socks off. I am not sure where to even begin around what it is about this wine, there it so many layers and flavors that build to a complexity that make it difficult to describe. Fruit flavors seem to run the berry gamut from red all the way to the darkest. In the mouth these blend with hints of spice and smoky undertones to form a nice, rounded flavor profile. With every sip the wine keeps changing, with different fruits and flavors showing their colors. Can’t wait for the next bottle, still 8 more to go!

On a random side note that I almost opted to omit, I found it a bit disappointing that the winery doesn’t update the wine description on their site from year to year, I could be wrong but it appears that they just update the blend percentages…

Rating: Cellar It

2001 Navarro Pinot Noir Methode Alancienne

Price: $23.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “Delicate floral scents edge this pinot, its light but piercingly long flavors extended by the cool, coastal nights of the Anderson Valley. The texture is firm, the flavors are crisp as red apple and tart as tangerine. Dusty tannins in the end will focus those flavors on veal and mushrooms. – Wine & Spirits Magazine, “The Year’s Best Pinot Noir”, January 2004.

Fresh and fragrant, with snappy black cherry and wild berry fruit that offers a hint of jam. Focused and persistent, with fine-grained tannins, and a whiff of blueberry on the finish adding to the complexity. Drink now through 2008. – James Laube, Wine Spectator, April 30, 2004.

What I Think:

Ahh, your first love. Had to go back to it for my first post. I found Navarro way back when I stumbled upon my first Wine Spectator. I could go get the article as I still have it upstairs now. I believe James Laube wrote it. Anyhow soon after we headed up to Mendocino and stopping there was priority #1 and #2. Don’t tell the wife as the purpose of the trip was to write wedding vows. The first night we went to a great restaurant and had dinner outside on the patio and a bottle of the 1999 vintage. Two days later we were at the winery (this is in 2003) joined the club and to some extent the rest is history. I have since started a vertical of this wine and have at least one bottle all the way back to 1996. They make three different versions with this being the mid range. The basic is the low end and the the “Deep End” is the top. Unfortunately you can find this wine pretty much only at the winery. I find it at some restaurants in the Bay Area, not sure if this is true elsewhere. Even saw it in a wine shop once.

Now onto the wine, this one is predisposed to a cellar rating as I have been working my way through a case over the years. This has most of what I love in a wine. It has cherries up front, in a very deep fashion that peak before fading into an herbal finish that lasts for quite some time.

Be sure to try Navarro wines and better yet stop by the winery if you can

Rating: Cellar It