What a night! I'm barely alive right now. Truly a wine tasting to end all wine tastings (at least for me...).....

Mr. Grape Ape hosted quite a few of us over at his house tonight (Pyang, Mr. and Mrs. Enjoyingwine, Vista, and the Gusbo's). A 14 lb. Prime rib was ordered from Lobels via the internet, and a truly decadent evening was set in gear! The food was over-the-top fantastic, and the wines were amazing, although we had some serious surprises. Here goes:

'96 Cristal

Very nice, and VERY young. Lots of bracing acidity. Lemon and citrus all over the midpalate, finishing with lots of acid and a creamy mouse. Toasty long finish. This needs time....94+ pts.

N.V. Krug (old label)

Slightly Corked.....Bummer.....

'00 Kistler Hyde Vineyard Chard.

Not a bad wine. Better than when I had it at the Neal Family Charity dinner last summer. Notes of lemon rind, sea shell/mineral, and grapefruit. Good but not great. 90 pts.

'00 Kistler Vine Hill Chard.


The Harlan Veritical

This consisted of the '92, '94, '95, '97, and '01......

'92 Harlan

Definitely showing signs of age. Dark ruby red in color with slight ambering around the edges. Right now the structure outweighs the fruit. Bright cherry and sweet tobacco prevail. Tasting like an aged CA Cab. Nice wine, but not mindblowing....91 pts.

'94 Harlan

Quite an improvement here! Definitely deeper nose and darker color in the glass. No real bricking, and a dark blood red/purple color. The nose could be smelled from 2 feet away. Dark bluberry pie, vanilla oak, and baking spices. CA fruit w/ a Bordeaux sensibility. This was a big step up from the '92. Nice long finish and weighty midpalate, but the fruit is starting to fade and I think this is not getting any better. Drink up.....95 pts. solid.

'95 Harlan

This is like the '94 but more acid and tannin, with the fruit still slightly in the background. Beautiful cassis, briary blackberry pie, vanilla oak, and a hearty dose of tannin and acid. This is some palate stripping wine! Decant if you're going to open! The most agable one on the table IMHO. Intense fruit muted slightly by it's awesome structure. Lovely...96 pts.....

'97 Harlan

Slightly corked....TOTAL BUMMER!!!

'01 Harlan

The REAL DEAL!!!! I'm going to let this wine speak for itself. If you want a 100 pt. experience, buy it, drink it now, and enjoy. If you don't like this, you are not meant to drink CA wine. Ethereal......100 pts. easy....

What amazed me most with this tasting was that ALL of these wines had a VERY distinct sense of place. While they all differed, they also all had a very similar personality. This property is one of CA's great expressions of Cabernet...period.....And...on the flip side this also showed the "new age CA Cabs." weakness for aging. The Harlan's progressively got better as you went from old to young. The ultraripe fruit and higher alcholor just doesn't seem to be a great agable combo. And, the intense primary fruit is where these wines shine the best anyway....Just my $.02....

'01 Foley Wines....tasted blind

1. '01 Hourglass

For me, the weakest of the group. Bright candied flavors with no midpalate and a short finish. Lacking in depth and showing moderate tannins and acids. Very weak compared to the other Foley wines....90 pts.

2. '01 Pride Claret

A big step up from the Hourglass, but showing it's Merlot components in a weaker way for me. Nice candied red fruit, toffee/snickers elements, but lacking in some depth and structure that the '01 Pride Res. Cab. had.....94 pts.

3. '01 Pride Res. Cab.

Deeper, darker, more structure and more alcohol than the Claret. Showing slightly more closed in as well. Dark briary blackberry, toffee, mocha, and firm tannins and acids. I think this has now entered it's dumb phase compared to what it was like on release.....96 pts.

4. '01 Switchback Ridge Cab.

This clearly stood out among the others and displayed a weight and gravity the others did not show. Dark blood red with hints of black. Dark blackberry pie, fresh herbs, mocha, firm tannis, and sturdy acids. This was the best showing from the Foley wines. Great structure and fruit to back it up. Very nice. 97+ pts.


'67 d'Yquem

A wine I've wanted to try for a LONG time now. Thank you GUSBO!!! Dark carmel in color. Burnished pecans, caramel, apple pie, and toasty Jack Daniels on the nose. Toasty burnished fruit on the midpalate as well (honey, caramel, apple pie, and glazed almonds). It had the nose, entry and the finish, but the midpalate flavors seemed to fade too quick. Great wine, but not perfect. 96 pts. for me.

'76 d'Yquem

While I like the '67 for it's maturity and what it has developed into, I like the '76 for what I think it will become! Golden honey in color. Notes of citrus oil, honey suckle, toasty oak, and creamy lemon mousse. This has many years ahead of it. Not at it's peak yet. The promise here is greater than with the '67. 97+ pts....

What a frickin' amazing evening...Thank you everyone...especially Mr. Grape Ape!!


Original Post

What a night Eek

I am jealous!!

My most recent exp. with a 1995 Harlan was much different as this wine amazed me as we decanted only an hour and the nose exploded out of the glass and the wine was amazing 98CK.

Another great night!
WOW, what a tasting. That Grape Ape has quite a nice cellar. I don't know which I would look forward to more, the Harlans or the D'Yquems.

I am not quite sure that I agree about the ageability of high alcohol and extracted wines. I certainly don't have a lot of experience with Harlan or older aged Bordeaux from ripe vintages. Parker seems to have strong feelings on the subject. It seems that many people feel the same way as you, that hot vintages that produce high alcohol and extracted wines don't age. Parker disagrees and states that if you look at some of the hottest Bordeaux vintages (e.g. 1921, 1947, 1949, 1959, 1982) that they age beautifully. While you certainly cannot draw a direct comparison between Bordeaux and California, there are certainly many similar themes between the two with regards to this discussion. Also, look at some of his recent tasting notes regarding the older Harlans. He consistently scores the 1991, 1994 and 1995 very highly, but does not give the same distinction to the 1992 and 1993. Perhaps the key to ageability of high alcohol wines is a transcendent original product.

Thanks for the awesome notes.

Ever notice how Parker never provides actual numbers to support his claims? Chateau records have shown that Bordeaux from those "hot" vintages produced wines mainly in the 12.5-13.5% alcohol and 3.7-3.8pH range. Harlan Estate (and most "cult" CalCabs) have alcohol levels of 15+% and pH of 4.0+.

CalCabs which fall in the ranges of the above Bordeaux numbers have a track record of aging well. It remains to be seen whether a 15+% alcohol, 4.0+pH goop-bomb will age well, but early results (eg, 1993 Bryant) are not encouraging...

Mark, you make a good point about the higher alcohol levels in CA, even compared to ripe Bordeaux vintages. One complicating factor is how accurate those numbers are. Parker states that the alcohol %s given by French producers is often underestimated. The example he gave was not in Bordeaux, but in Burgundy. He stated that he sent out some wine samples to a lab to analyze the % alcohol. It turns out that the alcohol %s were signficantly higher than given by the producer.

One region in which high alcohol %s have yielded ageworthy wines is Rhone. Some of the biggies there are in the 14-15% range.

Wow, quite a showing! I'm disappointed at how poorly the 2001 Hourglass showed Frown I think I'm going to wait on mine and see if there is any room for improvement. What think you, DRAB?
Not DRAB, but here is my take on Hourglass.

The first time I had the 2001 Hourglass was the day after it was bottled. Recalling nice sweet entry, straight forward and lacking mid-palate.

Now the same bottling, good 18 month+ later, still no mid-palate, but again, with nice sweet upfront entry that shows some power, but just nothing behind it to back it up.
Last edited by pyang
Mark and Brettay....

I think that this debate on CA fruit bombs and their agability is going to be coming to a close in the next 10 years. Right now there are many showstopping cult wines that are 10 or more years old. I've had quite a few of them and they sure do age quickly! Great Bordeaux is considered such because it ages slowly, and retains a "youthfulness" along with it's development of secondary components. The '75 Petrus I had at Pyang's B-day is the perfect example....it tasted like it was 5 years old at most! With many of these CA wines, they DO NOT retain a youthful fruit character, but they do develop secondary/aged nuances. It's the lack of youthful fruit that worries me. And, I don't think that with another 10 years of age, wines like the '92 or '94 Harlan are going to suddenly find the youthful fruit that they have been losing. Right now it's hard to argue that these wines are even close to being 99 or 100 pt'ers that will age effortlessly over the next 2 or 3 decades. They clearly are showing sings of a lot of effort and I think it's wishful thinking that it's going to suddenly turn out like Parker thinks....

And you did not invite me. You will have yellow tail 04 next time with me.
We can have a 97 Harlan next time if you get a good Petrus!
Every time you think you have a great wine week, DRAB has a way of helping you put things back into perspective. Great notes man. Sounds like a fantastic evening.
Sorry it took so long to post. This great evening was the result of a group effort, and I never could have done it by myself. Thanks to Pyang, Drab, Gusbo, Randy, Enjoyingwine, and their spouses for sharing some great bottles from their cellars, delicious appetizers, and helping with clean up. The wines were great, made all the more better by great company. We are lucky people.

For the gourmands out there, I highly recommend trying some of the quality meats from Lobel's. The prime rib we ordered was one of the most beautiful pieces of meat I have ever seen. It came out great and was a perfect match to this line up of wines! Big Grin

Thanks again guys! Smile
A big thank you to Mr&Mrs. Grape Ape for the invitation, great
hospitality, and truck loads of fun.

The view from their house goes from beautiful in the day to almost magical as the sun sets. I guess this view gave the wines a couple of extra points Wink

Too bad a couple of bottles were corked, but hey! so were a few
the attendees.........you know, the ones who attended The Kitchen
the night before, well they were "corky" anyway Razz

No notes, but here is my take on the wines:

The Cristal was laser, razor, etc. sharp. Very citrusy, with a smooth finish. In contrast to the '96 Dom, which is showing a bit
frutier profile, that tastes almost sweet.

I don't think the Krug was corked, cooked would be my guess. In
case not up to 100%.

Hard for me to evaluate the Harlans, but I'll say that I enjoyed
the '92 and the 2001 the most. They were easier drinking (for me).

We had a long discussion about the time to keep these wines. I'm
in the "drink'em young camp". They seem better that way.

The other wines, I tasted when they had the numbers still on, and
once they took them off, well......... Big Grin

I'll agree with DRAB on the D'Yquem, the '76 was dancing! Thanks
for sharing. How do you compare these with the '75?

The '67 was a bit more subdued, but after all those "tounge numbing", "blueberry moothies", Eek
we would have been better off with a high acid Eiswein......not that I'm complaining Roll Eyes

Good to see Pyang and the Enjoyingwine's once again. Good thing I
told Vista my name 4 or 5 times during the day, because in the end when I couldn't remember who I was Roll Eyes, he told me! Razz

Gusbo...good commentary...sarcastic and humorous as usual! Wink

The '75 d'Yquem should be the next one we try when you get back up here again! I haven't had it since the time with Pyang a couple years ago, but it was a 100 pt'er for me. It beats the '67 and the '76.....
Eek Big Grin,

now i know why gusbo wasnt at his office Razz


you guys enjoy'd it alot i guess Razz Cool


btw drab,

we also had nice wines thusday eavening:
- 2003 van volxem kanzemer altenberg riesling
- 1947 vouvray a.foreau,clos naudin,bonne rouge
- 1937 sautern "non producer"
- 1993 j. roty charm chambertin TVV
- 1989 beaucastel cndp
- 1982 j.l.chave
- 1986 haut brion
- 1989 a. conterno colonello
- 2000 ceretto brunate
- 2002 latour
Big Grin
Last edited by tsunami
Tsunami, how could you forget the 1989 Beaucastel Confused Eek

That was an unexpected great offline on short notice - thanks again! Cool
DARK Eek Roll Eyes Big Grin!!!

it has a nice nose of currant fruit and the wood is still a side, on palate first all tannins were covered be huge amount of fruit that someone guessed it as a australian, grafite, and a hint of blossom, tannins were superripe and micro-fine but after 1 hour they start to dry the mouth completly. on length, i would expect more
my rate 90-94
i would never change a 2000 against a 2003!! Razz
Just a quick note. . .Harlan agreed to replace the corked 750ml bottle of 97 Estate after I sent them an e-mail (along with the thread to this forum).

I returned the bottle personally to their business office in St. Helena, where I met with Jennifer Cormier. She graciously replaced the bottle with no questions asked.

Now that's customer service. Smile
They are an ultrapremium wine, which means that their customer service should stack up to their prices and quality. I'm very impressed that they replaced the bottle for you. Nice job Harlan!
Good, hope that the group can meet again and have it.
Never had a problem with them. They are indeed, very friendly.
No, you can not go to the winery!

Dumpster diving.....

Had a bottle of 2006 The Napa Valley Reserve last night and thought of this tasting. Thanks to GrapeApe and DRAB for digging this up.

On the note of Frenchies understate their alcohol %, that's probably one of the worst kept secrets out there.

Back when this tasting took place in 2005, it was less than three years into my wine career.  Due time, as I cut my teeth in Napa, one of the favorite pastime for winemaker in the valley was sending a lab sample to ETS to check the alcohol % of a good bottle of Bordeaux or Burgundy.  Without fail, the result all came back much higher than what's stated on the label.

A separate conversation with Aaron Pott brough out the story that while he worked at Troplong Mondot in the early '90s, the 1990 Troplong Mondot actually clocked in at 15%+....

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