The WinesJudgment of Charleston 2016
Chateau Latour 2011
A blend of 84.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot, the 2011 Latour represents only 34% of the crop. It hit 13.1% natural alcohol. One of the vintage’s most compelling wines, it possesses a dense ruby/purple color as well as a sweet, open-knit personality with ripe tannin, superb intensity, good purity and harmony, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and lots of crushed rock, floral and black as well as blue fruit notes in addition to hints of ink and forest floor. This beautifully rich, savory Latour will be surprisingly drinkable in 4-5 years, and should age easily for two decades or more. By the way, Latour harvested relatively late for the Médoc, beginning the harvest on September 12 and finishing on September 26.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate Apr 2012
Shafer Vineyards Hillside Select 2011
Possibly the Cabernet Sauvignon of the vintage is Shafer’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. With an opaque black/purple color and notes of subtle burning charcoal embers, blueberry, blackberry and graphite, the wine has a certain Bordelaise minerality, but then the richness of Napa kicks in. It’s full-bodied (somewhat unusual for a 2011) with lighter tannins, and no doubt the wine will be on a faster evolutionary track than vintages such as 2010, 2012 and 2013.
Shafer’s Hillside Estate Vineyard consists of 54 acres all on steep, amphitheater-like, rocky outcroppings and knolls. It receives the full benefit of southeasterly sunlight, and enjoys the afternoon breezes that blow up from the San Francisco Bay channel. An unusual geographic feature, this vineyard is basically a box canyon. The top soil is virtually nonexistent as the bed roots that go into the white tofu volcanic soil base rarely extend more than 18 inches before hitting bedrock. This no doubt is a significant reason for the intense flavors achieved by the Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, and why it is able to spend 32 months in 100% new French oak without a woody taste.
Rated 96 Pts.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate Dec 2014
Chateau Haut Brion 2010
As for the 2010 Haut-Brion, it does not have the power of Latour’s 2010 or the intense lead pencil shavings and chocolaty component of Lafite Rothschild, but it is extraordinary, perfect wine. It has a slightly lower pH than the 2009 (3.7 versus the 2009’s 3.8), and even higher alcohol than the 2009 (14.6%). The wine is ethereal. From its dense purple color to its incredibly subtle but striking aromatics that build incrementally, offering up a spectacular smorgasbord of aromas ranging from charcoal and camphor to black currant and blueberry liqueur and spring flowers, this wine’s finesse, elegant yet noble power and authority, come through in a compelling fashion. It is full-bodied, but that’s only apparent in the aftertaste, as the wine seems to float across the palate with remarkable sweetness, harmony, and the integration of all its component parts – alcohol, tannin, acidity, wood, etc. This prodigious Haut-Brion is hard to compare to another vintage, at least right now, but it should have 50 to 75 years of aging potential. Anticipated maturity: 2022-2065+.
Rated 100 Pts.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate Feb 2013
Screaming Eagle 2012
The perfect 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Screaming Eagle is composed of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. Made in the classic, iconic Screaming Eagle style that the original proprietress, Jean Philipps, first showcased in the early 1990s, before the winery was sold to Stan Kroenke, the inky/purple-colored, seamless 2012 possesses an extraordinary set of aromatics consisting of pure blackcurrant liqueur, licorice, acacia flowers, graphite and a subtle hint of new oak. Full-bodied, opulent and voluptuous, this profound wine is as prodigious as I thought it would be last year when tasted from barrel. It should age effortlessly for 20 or more years.
It would be easy to criticize Screaming Eagle, the tiny boutique producer, with astronomical prices as well as quality. The vineyard, on the valley floor in the eastern Oakville corridor, sells off significant quantities of wine to others. Their production remains 700 to 1,000 cases, along with 500-800 cases of their second wine, Second Flight. There is something magical about this Oakville parcel on the valley floor just under the looming hillsides of such wineries as Phelps, Bacchus and Dalla Valle’s Maya, and across the street from Rudd Estate, Plumpjack, etc. Different winemaking consultants, from Heidi Barrett, who was in charge when Screaming Eagle soared to prominence in the early ninties, to the present consultant Michel Rolland, have maintained the remarkable consistency that makes this wine so special. Articulating that is the critic’s challenge, but there is a purity to the crème de cassis fruit that emerges from this vineyard. There is an aromatic intensity and penetration that is truly world-class, and there is incredible balance as well as complexity in these young wines.
Rated 100 Pts.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate Oct 2014
Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard RBS 2010
Flirting with perfection, the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard RBS from clone 337 was aged in new Darnajou barrels (80%) and the rest in new Taransaud barrels. There were 410 cases produced, which is several hundred cases less than the production in 2012. An unbelievable red wine, it boasts an inky/purple color as well as abundant notes of charcoal, white chocolate, toast, new saddle leather, blueberries, blackberries, crème de cassis and licorice. As the wine sits in the glass, some chocolaty, smoky elements also emerge. This virtually perfect Cabernet Sauvignon has been flawlessly made and should age effortlessly for 25-30+ years.
Rated 99 Pts.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate Oct 2013
One of the stars of the vintage, the wine (100% Merlot) has exceptional concentration, stunning purity, an inky purple color and a broad, expansive mouthfeel. Not a bit heavy, cloying or overwrought, this is a stunning Petrus (licorice, blackcurrants and truffles dominate) that will probably hit full maturity in 8-10 years and last 25-35. Another great example of this mythical wine that few can afford, virtually no one drinks, but everyone talks about! Relatively high in alcohol at 14.5%, the crop was tiny because of the spring’s poor flowering in this sector of Pomerol.
Rated 96 Pts.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate Apr 2015
Mira Cabernet Sauvignon Schweizer Vineyard 2012
Schweizer vineyard, one of the oldest in Napa Valley producing grapes for premier wines for over 100 years, has been owned by the Schweizer family since 1956. This small 40-acre vineyard in the heart of the Stags Leap District, brings together some of the best soils and the perfect microclimate for the growing of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Black in color, this wine commands your palate with its plush, picturesque and magnificent texture. Crushed myrtle berry and licorice notes entice into a hematite core that segues into a precise, chiseled and incessant finish. A wine that forces the objectivity of science to surrender to sensory euphoria. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 24 months in 100% new French oak barrels after which the wine is bottled with neither fining nor filtration. The wine is bottle aged 12 months before release. This wine will continue to age beautifully for the next 25 years.
The 2012 is Mira’s first vintage from this vineyard and perfectly reflects the unique characteristics of the Stags Leap District and represents the first time the Schweizer family has ever permitted a winery to designate the Schweizer Vineyard on the label. For that reason, we like to refer to it as the most famous vineyard you’ve never heard of, until now.
Chateau Angelus 2010
A blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Franc cropped at 32 hectoliters per hectare, aging takes place in 100% new oak for 18-24 months, after which the wine is bottled with neither fining nor filtration. An absolutely spectacular wine from this estate, run with meticulous precision by Hubert de Boüard, the opaque bluish/purple 2010 Angélus offers up a beautifully sweet smorgasbord of aromas ranging from blueberry pie to espresso roast, white chocolate, crème de cassis, licorice, truffle and a touch of lead pencil shavings. There is even a floral underpinning to this extraordinary, highly-scented, full-bodied wine. Rich, layered and built like a skyscraper, this multi-dimensional Angélus has lavish concentration and moderately high tannin, but it is sweet and well-integrated, as is the oak. Just enough acidity provides focus and delineation to this exceptionally well-endowed wine, which should hit its prime in 7-10 years and last 30-40.
Rated 99 Pts.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate Aug 2015