Hi Time Cellars had a terrific tasting yesterday of four wines each from these producers. Wines were not decanted, and we tasted right when the tasting started.

2006 Aubert Chardonnay "Ritchie." Very pale, slightly cloudy straw color. Sweet lemon and mineral on the nose. The wine is intense and yet quite restrained at the same time, with concentrated flowers, stony mineral and light citrus, with a blast of white pepper and perfect balancing acidity. Delicious now, but seemingly likely to benefit from a few years of age. 95 points, with room to improve.

2006 Aubert Chardonnay "Lauren." Similar in most respects to the first wine, but a little more amplified nose and flavor, but also a touch coarse and not fully integrated yet. I think this, more than the Ritchie, needs some time to hit its sweet spot. 94 points, with considerable room to improve.

2005 Aubert Chardonnay "Lauren." Identical appearance to all the other Aubert chards in this lineup. I don't know if it's the vintage or the extra year of age or both, but this takes us up a notch from the excellent pair of 2006s. Layer after layer of sweet white flowers, cool stones, lemon oil, tropical fruit and white pepper. Yet for all the intensity, it's still very classic and balanced, with little oak or heaviness present. Great now, many good years ahead as well. 97 points.

2005 Aubert Chardonnay "Reuling." A smokier, more rugged wine than the two Ritchies. Roasted nuts and bitter almond skin show up on the finish. I think this one needs some air and/or age to mellow, and was a little harder to evaluate at the moment. 94-96 points.

2005 Abreu "Rothwell-Hyde" Red Wine. This has a nose so huge that Gerard Depardieu would say, "zat is zee beegest nose I have ever zeen!" Giant aromas of plum, eucalyptus, cedar and menthol. In the mouth, this is big, raw and brawny, with loads of black pepper and some heat. The flavors are more in the category of traditional Napa cabs, but amplified to an incredible degree. It drew a lot of negative comments from others, and there was a lot of disagreement about whether this would settle down and become more balanced with age, or whether it would fall apart. I tended towards the former view, but it's hard to say. 93 points.

2003 Abreu Cabernet Sauvignon "Madrona Ranch." A big, but classically-styled, nose. This has a profile of tobacco leaf, earth, pepper, coffee, smoked meat, cedar and black berry fruit. Very balanced, with tannins well concealed by the generous fruit. Great now, with a long life ahead. 96 points.

2002 Abreu Cabernet Sauvignon "Madrona Ranch." Showy aromatics of sweet, ripe black fruit, coffee and a touch of iodine. This is a considerably more modern-styled wine than the 2003, quite plush in the mouth, with creamy blackberry, mocha and vanilla, then spices gradually emerging on the finish. Gorgeous in more of a crowd-pleasing and overtly oaked style. It probably will age very well, but it's not quite as clearly an ager as the other two Abreu cabs in the lineup. 97 points.

2002 Abreu Cabernet Sauvignon "Thorevilos." This is deep, black and dense on the nose and in the mouth. Extremely concentrated, it slowly reveals chocolate, olives, licorice and roasted black fruit. The style was somewhere in between that of the two Madrona cabs. This needs air and/or age to fully reveal itself, and was a little hard to evaluate in a single pour shortly after the bottle was opened, but I'd say it has a tremendous future. 96-99 points.

It was quite a treat to get to try these wines and share my experiences.
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