Wine Talk

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

2001 Cal. Cab v. Bordeaux

Original post by Richard Foxall, Oct 2, 2011.

Just a quick posting on a tasting we did last week.  We've been celebrating our tenth anniversary, and I stockpiled 2001s.  Good thing it was a strong vintage in so many places.  Of course, the 2001 Gran Reservas from Rioja are, in some cases, just hitting the market and are terrific values. We celebrated with a bottle we bought in the first couple years, a 2001 Montelena. 

Recently, K&L was touting Chateau Lanessan's 2001 from the Medoc, a wine that RP has touted as one for Bordeaux watchers to follow for its value. Prices in the US for this wine range from $20 at K&L to $30+, but it's not hard to find near the lower end of that.  I picked some up on the recommendation of both K&L and WineHouseSF a/k/a WineAccess. There are tall tales about how the winery didn't enter its wines in the 1855 classification.  I had earlier picked up a couple bottles of Bell Vineyards 2001 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.  We were having dinner at my folks, and it seemed a good opportunity to put the bottles in bags and bring them out for dinner when we'd have plenty of drinkers. The Lanessan is about 65% cab, the rest merlot and cab franc.   The Bell is 90% cab, 8% merlot and 2% syrah.  (Now that's old school Bordeaux making--they Bordelaise used to truck in Syrah from the Rhone to "improve" their wine.) Not a perfect head to head, but...

Everyone preferred the Bell.  And here's what's interesting: It wasn't huge or hot, but it had backbone and fruit.  The Lanessan was fine, but less vibrant, as if age had just kind of left it more empty.  Ten years on, so this isn't "drink now, fruit forward, but forget it in a year or three."  Granted, Anthony Bell is a bit of a classicist, formerly the manager at BV back in the 80s, and not a grubber of Parker points.  (I suspect he did something to anger Bob, because he doesn't even seem to submit his wines there anymore and hasn't gotten great ratings.)  But this wine was terrific and no way past its prime.  I've got some 2002 and some Clone 6 from 2001 that I am looking forward to.  Everyone also guessed which was the Cal cab.

There have been a lot of arguments that California Cabs are not being made to age.  We'll see, and it's certainly the case that Bell is not chasing the latest high alcohol fashion, so it's possibly not representative of a larger trend.  But before you dismiss Cal Cabs, I'd like to hear about your experiments.  As I said, not a perfect comparison, but interesting nonetheless.

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Reply by outthere, Oct 4, 2011.

Well so far things are going pretty well. Barrel samples of the '10 Pinot are dark like Sonoma Coast fruit and very expressive and you remember the fruit picture I posted. Looked like raisins. The '10 Chardonnay was released and won a Best of Class at the Hervest Fair. I remember when we sorting and were picking out the rot and mold. It was a rough batch of fruit. Guess we left the right parts on the table. The Zinfandel faired pretty well considering the cool Fall and late hang.

This year is a whole nother thing. Ph on the Pinot is in the low 3's which means we're in for real high acids this vintage with alc in the high 12's and low 13's. How Burgundian! A stark turnaround from last year. This rain has set back the ripening and we're easily 2 weeks out on harvest. After tomorrow the weather is supposed to warm back up but we need a week to recover before the brix starts rising again.

Picked the first vintage of estate pinot on Friday and only yielded 500lbs of fruit from 2 acres. Expected a bit more even with young vines. Such is the farming life.

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 4, 2011.

Can appreciate that there are always challenges in the farming aspect of winemaking, and i'm always interested in hearing the scoop, and what's going on.  I also mentioned you can always run into problems when generalizing.  But generally, CA gets enough sunshine to ripen, and pretty consistent weather otherwise.  Because, as you say winemaking is the livelyhood of the Napa/Sonoma area, they're also prepared to deal with the surprises, twists, and turns pretty well.  You mention some pretty hefty figures Fox (i.e., 50%, 90%), would be interested to what the final numbers wine up being reported.

Every vintage tells a story, don't it?

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 5, 2011.

Okay, JD, let's get a band together that does wine events.  That's our walk off song, right there.  Tune up your bass, I'll play rhythm guitar and sing (I mentioned I have a voice made for print, right? So did Rod Stewart...) and if we can find a drummer who waits till after the set to dunk his head in a vat of wine, we're all set.

Thanks a million for that, outthere.  You saw D's bat signal.  I'm looking out at SF Bay and it's sunny.  Now hope it is a little warm.  Five day forecast says it could be.  BTW, saw a blog about Fred Scherrer's Pinot pick and his numbers were waaaay down, same as yours.  Keeping my fingers crossed for the CS.

And speaking of ageability and California wines, check out Asimov's column today, all about Charles Krug's classic vintages.

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 5, 2011.

Glad the Rod Stewart reference wasn't for nothing...but I think we'd have to at least audition for who the lead singer should be, i've been known to do a pretty mean karaoke and have video to prove it.  Though I think i'll withhold those kind of links/sources for now.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 6, 2011.

Karaoke?  Luckily my show stopping Elvis impersonation doing "Baby I Don't Care" was not videotaped, or the search for a lead singer would be all over.  Actually, having met JD, I can attest to his in person charisma.  Kind of like Eddie Vedder, IMO. Or that guy from Flaming Lips. 

Back to the weather for a minute:  It's raining and a minute ago it was absolutely pouring. I'll start a thread for harvest updates.

Reply by dmcker, Oct 6, 2011.

Nor my singing of 'Love Me Tender' at a wedding. OK, JD, no striptease allow. Fork over those links...

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 7, 2011.

There's one out there of me trying to do "Miss You" by the Rolling Stones, however it's way out of my vocal range, as opposed just to the other songs that are a little or more reasonably out of my range...There's another of me doing "The Real Me" by The Who that I might link up, but I think it's still on my friends iPhone. I'll have to see if there's been any progress made on that.


Reply by EMark, Oct 7, 2011.

99.9% of all humans cannot sing on key.  As proof of that I submit the horrible examples of "Star Spangled Banner" at sporting events.  (Public Announcer:  "And now for our country's National Anthem here is Nashville recording star Mary Beth Wailer."  Public Announcer thinks:  OK, maybe you've never heard of her.  I just read what's on the paper.)  So, the secret of karaoke is to find a song that does not require you to stay on key or find a melody.  Loud distracts from many faults.  In all honesty I think you're looking for trouble with "Love me Tender."  My personal favorite is "Bad Moon Risin'."  I once thought that "Joy to the World" (not the Christmas song) would be good, but, believe me, nobody was drunk enough for that.

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 7, 2011.

Good point about the Loud, i've found that Mick Jagger is about the easiest voice for me, or Roger Daltrey if it's a shouter.  But then I surprised myself recently and did "Girls & Boys" by Blur at a friends engagement party. You just have to feel it...usually takes a few drinks to kick that in.

Reply by dmcker, Oct 8, 2011.

'Love me tender' was a huge hit at that wedding, but it was maybe 25 years ago and fortunately before video capabilities in cell phones (or cellphones themselves for that matter). Lots of smiles, laughter and clapping, even a foot stomp or two. So I decided to go out on top of my singing career, though I occasionally do get trapped in karaoke boxes out and about in Tokyo. Alcohol can fuel a lot of foolishness.  ;-)

And who said anything about on key? Unfortunately I had enough early music training to recognize now every note I'm not....


Reply by EMark, Oct 8, 2011.

Good for you, D.  You have more courage than I have. ;-)

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 8, 2011.

Funny how every post used to turn into, "Is Parker ruining wine?" or "Does terroir really exist?"  Now, where a thread winds up is anyone's guess. 

I like how D's great adventure was pre-cell phone.  But lots of people actually had videographers at their weddings, even back then.  So make with a recording, eh?

Of course, my great moment wasn't recorded, either.  Blame my wife for carrying a camera-less BlackBerry.  She was a witness and will divulge all on October 20, if asked...

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 8, 2011.

It's become a little more stream of consciousness which is alright by me.  Missing GregT lately, but other than that representation is better than it has been.

D - Going out on top is kind of how I feel about the whole thing. I'll know i'll never be able to recreate that last go of Girls & Boys, and don't really feel like trying to until maybe I develop some proficiency at guitar and get a band behind me.

Reply by ScottLauraH, Oct 8, 2011.

You all are cracking me up.  Maybe we should open a karaoke wine bar??

My husband (the Scott half of ScottLauraH ;) ) has been known to entertain with some karaoke at weddings, including ours.  He sang Ice Ice Baby, My Girl, I'm Too Sexy and I'm Bringing Sexy Back, complete with dance moves.  NOBODY got it on tape.  Scott does have the uncanny ability to memorize the lyrics to every song ever.  In fact, he is often called the Walking Ipod. 

Reply by dmcker, Oct 9, 2011.

Or, Jon, just until that essential threshold of inebriation!

Sounds, Laura, like Scott could be the life of the party at times....

Reply by zufrieden, Oct 9, 2011.

Not sure how "Love me Tender" and other digressions entered the fray, and not sure why some comments are answered and others not, but let us put a silver bullet in the gut of this argument: there is little to compare between Bordelais and Cali wines - even when made from similar clones and locales consdiered worthy of comparison.  The traditions, terroir and lattitude are so different. Moreover, consider some key reviewers: Jancis Robinson, a very astute and erudite mathematician who knows what was the tradition, and Robert Parker, an erstwhile pettifogger who knows what he wishes was the tradition; these people look for different markers of quality. Ask yourself whether the mediocre vintages of both regions give you much information about either.  My suggestionis that the answer is ... no.

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