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The Official Wine Thread

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by audiophilia, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    And from what I'm reading here, these expensive Cali Cabs need 'SERIOUS' laying down time. For connoisseurs, wouldn't it be better to spend a little more on the front end on great Bordeaux and Burgundy futures, and use the time to create known high value masterpieces, personal taste notwithstanding?

    see, that's the other part of the deal. i'm a big cali booster in most things (gotta be!). but for many of those cali cabs, there is absolutely no track record for aging. people say they need to be laid down because they're undrinkable now. but that doesn't necessarily mean that they'll be drinkable in 15 years. they may just be another kind of undrinkable. Personally, I think it's madness. but then, I don't think I've ever spent more than $60 to $70 for a bottle at retail.
     


  2. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    I have dreams about the crazy prices of quality Napa Cabs coming down. Thanks for the link.

    And from what I'm reading here, these expensive Cali Cabs need 'SERIOUS' laying down time. For connoisseurs, wouldn't it be better to spend a little more on the front end on great Bordeaux and Burgundy futures, and use the time to create known high value masterpieces, personal taste notwithstanding?

    Not necessarily. Actually, the old schoold CA cabs need more time than the cult cabs, and the latter are priced a lot lower. Really, we don't know the aging track record for the cults because they simply have not been around long enough.

    I don't consider Caymus a cult cab.
     


  3. gomestar

    gomestar Super Yelper

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    see, that's the other part of the deal. i'm a big cali booster in most things (gotta be!). but for many of those cali cabs, there is absolutely no track record for aging. people say they need to be laid down because they're undrinkable now. but that doesn't necessarily mean that they'll be drinkable in 15 years. they may just be another kind of undrinkable. Personally, I think it's madness. but then, I don't think I've ever spent more than $60 to $70 for a bottle at retail.

    Some will be stellar. The '94 Insignia I had was developing marvelously. I think Manton can speak for others.

    Some not so much. I forget which episode of WL it was, but Gary V tried a solidly aged Napa Cab ... and it was a complete flop (I think it was a '94, I'll try to dig up the episode when I get home later).
     


  4. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    Some will be stellar. The '94 Insignia I had was developing marvelously. I think Manton can speak for others.
    Some not so much. I forget which episode of WL it was, but Gary V tried a solidly aged Napa Cab ... and it was a complete flop (I think it was a '94, I'll try to dig up the episode when I get home later).

    no! don't misunderstand. that wasn't a blanket statement and it didn't refer to every expensive cali cab. i've been very happily drinking Insignia since the early '80s (usually at someone else's house!). And I'd certainly give a pass to Caymus, too. I'm talking specifically about all of these wineries that have sprung up in the last 4-5 years ... the ego wineries. look, the reality is, that if you're paying $150,000+ per acre for vineyard land, turning a profit (or even breaking even) is obviously not part of your business plan.
     


  5. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    ^^^ Insignia is also not a cult cab.

    To speak very loosely, we may say there have been three "waves" of wineries in Napa. The first goes back to the 19th century or at least the early 20th. There are hardly any of these standing any more and even few that still make great wine. BV would be #1 with the most consistent track record. Beringer would be another. Many of them were literally killed off by Prohibition. The ones that survived did so by eking out a a living making sacramental wine. You could maybe-sorta-kinda add Coppola's winery to this category, since he owns the old Inglenook winery plus the famous vinyard where they grew the grapes for Cask F, their top wine. But there is a massive gap between when Inglenook went to hell and when Coppola started producing the Rubicon wine, which is meant to be the successor to Inglenook Cask F (arguably the greatest California wine ever).

    The second wave begins in the mid-'60s when Robert Mondavi got in a fight with his family (which owned and still owns the once-great, now sadly lame Charles Krug winery) and started his own. Prices for Napa land were dirt cheap. You also got a lot of rich or semi-rich career switchers come and try their hand at wine. Joe Heitz and Joseph Phelps and Warren Winiarski (Stag's Leap) and the Barretts of Montelena and the Wagners of Caymus (although they were not transplants) would be the big names of this stage. I consider these not to be cult cabs at all. One of the central events of this stage is rather loosely depicted in the movie Bottle Shock.

    The third wave begins in the late '80s to early '90s when you had to be seriously rich to buy in Napa and lots more i-bankers moved up there with the goal of making super top quality wine in tiny productions. These are the cult cab producers.

    As foodguy notes, the wineries in the middle category were founded to make great wine and be successful businesses. Those in the third are more or less vanity projects. Their owners can afford to lose money, even at $300 a bottle.
     


  6. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    Good write up Manton. Part of the problem is many folks don't have true meaning to some of the lexicon. You've been at this much longer than me, but I'd also go into the components of what makes a "cult cab." IMO, they seem to be ultra-fruit, rather plush for a cab, early drinkers. It seems to me part of the "cult cab" craze is being able to drink an expensive bottle of wine very young.

    The only ones I have are my two 05 Araujo Eisele Vineyard. I'm wondering if I should try one soon, knowing these are young drinkers. My Caymus SS are all safe from consumption until their 10th b-day. After that, all bets are off [​IMG]
     


  7. gomestar

    gomestar Super Yelper

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    no! don't misunderstand. that wasn't a blanket statement and it didn't refer to every expensive cali cab. i've been very happily drinking Insignia since the early '80s (usually at someone else's house!). And I'd certainly give a pass to Caymus, too. I'm talking specifically about all of these wineries that have sprung up in the last 4-5 years ... the ego wineries. look, the reality is, that if you're paying $150,000+ per acre for vineyard land, turning a profit (or even breaking even) is obviously not part of your business plan.

    of course, I can only give a half-educated remark on the Cali cabs that are old enough to judge (which I think is really interesting), not the latest influx of trendy wineries that you are referring to.
     


  8. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    of course, I can only give a half-educated remark on the Cali cabs that are old enough to judge (which I think is really interesting), not the latest influx of trendy wineries that you are referring to.

    yes, and that's exactly the point i was making ... nobody can give a really educated guess as to whether these will age or not. yet they are still willing to shell out $200 a bottle. that's just craziness.
     


  9. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    yes, and that's exactly the point i was making ... nobody can give a really educated guess as to whether these will age or not. yet they are still willing to shell out $200 a bottle. that's just craziness.

    More than that. They're willing to pay that price and drink them at three years of age.
     


  10. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    Good write up Manton. Part of the problem is many folks don't have true meaning to some of the lexicon. You've been at this much longer than me, but I'd also go into the components of what makes a "cult cab." IMO, they seem to be ultra-fruit, rather plush for a cab, early drinkers. It seems to me part of the "cult cab" craze is being able to drink an expensive bottle of wine very young.

    actually, in most cases, i think it's the opposite. these are wines that are built for power. they are picked extremely ripe, giving really intense fruit, but also really high alcohol. They are then oaked to the max. i did a tasting of 25 of them last year and came out feeling physically battered. no fun at all. occasionally impressive, but no fun.
     


  11. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    actually, in most cases, i think it's the opposite. these are wines that are built for power. they are picked extremely ripe, giving really intense fruit, but also really high alcohol. They are then oaked to the max. i did a tasting of 25 of them last year and came out feeling physically battered. no fun at all. occasionally impressive, but no fun.

    Well, we agree on the fruit. I agree with the oak, part of the plushness I spoke of. The oak phenols give that vanilla, cream, caramel and such to it.

    I don't think the "power" of a cult cab, and I agree they are built to be powerful, impedes the early drinking.
     


  12. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    I think there are five characteristics that define what is a cult cab:

    1) Small production. Sometimes very small, but usually <1,000 cases or less.

    2) Very, very high price. As opposed to, say, $100 to $150 for an old school Napa cab, these start at $200 to $250 and zoom up from there.

    3) Short track record, or, let us say, "recent provenance." Most of the wineries are newish, less than 20 years old, sometimes much less. They try to make this a selling point by saying "We have no traditions here and no entrenched habits, we come to shake things up and only to do what we know will make the very best wine. We are brash outsiders concerned only with quality, money and labor intensity are no object," etc.

    4) Going for that high Parker score above all; that is, deliberatly focusing your winemaking style on appealing to that one palate.

    5) This may amount to the same thing as #4, but the style is as foodguy described. It's not so much "early maturing" as it is "impactful." These wines are not meant to ever taste closed or tight or quiet. They are meant to hit you head on, to really blow you away at first glance in a way that more integrated, balanced wine just cannot, at least not until it is 20 years old and maybe never. Thus, I would not call it "power" per se; plenty of very long agers are powerful. Caymus and Martha's are hugely powerful. These are both powerful and "obvious" almost screaming "Smell me taste me NOOOWWWWW!!!!!!" If you are not a fran, you would criticize by saying "too much of a good thing" and "no subtlety, balance, or harmony."

    The similarities between the cult cabs and the "garagistas" of Pomerol and especially St. Emilion are many and profound.
     


  13. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    I think the three of us are saying pretty much the same thing.

    I did not mention #4, and I agree, that's a defining characteristic.
     


  14. gomestar

    gomestar Super Yelper

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    in other news, Zachy's has &quot;The Zachy's Gazette&quot; with a big emphasis on value driven wines that are still excellent. Worth a look.
     


  15. gomestar

    gomestar Super Yelper

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    4) Going for that high Parker score above all; that is, deliberatly focusing your winemaking style on appealing to that one palate.

    and there are a good number of consultants whose only goal is to help wineries achieve this high Parker score.
     


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