Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bond Estates Tasting: The Wines

This final post in the series of posts on the Bond Estates tasting organized by Stacole Fine Wines and led by Bond Estate Manager, Paul Roberts, focuses on the individual wines in the portfolio and the tasting experience of the attendees. It should be remembered that Bond's objective is to have the wines representative of the terroir in which the grapes are grown and for this terroir-driven difference to be the key characteristic of the portfolio. With the exception of Matriarch, the entire portfolio was tasted. Each wine is described in turn.

This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (Cab) sourced from grapes grown on "... a spectacular property on the slopes north of Lake Hennessey, in the hills of Rutherford." This 7-acre hillside vineyard resides at elevations ranging between 348 and 522 feet and has a sedimentary/compressed clay soil profile. This wine demonstrates "... plush red fruits (currants, bing cherries), redolent with spice and the scent of violets." The '03 and '06 versions of this wine were presented for tasting. The wine presented sweet red fruit, a floral violet and sweet tobacco on the nose and loads of tannin on the palate. Robert Goulet felt that the '03 had more body than did the '06. Robert Parker rated the '06 a 94 while James Laube (Wine Spectator) rated it a 92. $275.

This 100% Cab debuted with the 2006 vintage and is made from grapes sourced from a 9-acre site in the eastern hills overlooking Napa. The site is located between 433- and 595-feet elevation , has a southwestern exposure, and has a soil profile of ancient uplifted riverbed covered with volcanic ash. The winery tasting notes speak to blue fruits and graphite. I sensed a strong salinity. Paul expressed the opinion that this wine would go well with mushroom, spice, and (greeted with looks of incredulity) seafood. James Laube scored this a 93 while Parker rated it a 92. This was my least favorite of the offered wines. $275,

This 100% cab is sourced from an 11-acre plot -- average elevation 161 feet -- with a soil profile of iron-rich fractured volcanic rock on north-facing slopes. The site allows for the warmth of the valley floor during most of the day and cooling in the afternoon. The '01 and '06 vintages were presented for tasting. Notes of creme de cassis, mocha and olives. Long finish. Rated 90 by James Laube and 96 by Parker. $275.

This 100% Cab , referred to as the Lafite of Bond, is sourced from an 11-acre site situated in Oakville's western foothills on pure bedrock topped by 2 feet of alluvial soil. The soil manifests itself in the wine as wild forest floor and mineral tones. '01 and '06 vintages presented for tasting. Black fruit. Tobacco leaf. Good tannin structure. Elevation 221-330 feet. This wine is rated 8 by Laube and 95 byParker. $275.

In the '06 vintage this wine was comprised of 8% Merlot, 3% Cab Franc, and the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon. It is sourced from a 7-acre site located at 1100 feet up on Spring Mountain.The soil profile is decomposed volcanic material. The vineyard is surrounded by conifer trees which contribute what Paul calls "airborne Terroir" to the wine in the form of a "piney" phenolic. The '03 and '06 vintages presented for tasting. "Huge" dark plum, roasted coffee and cedar scents. Rated 90 by Laube and and 94 by Parker. $225.

The overriding feeling coming out of the tasting was that these wines were "tannic monsters." This is supported by a note written by James Laube in August of 2009 in which he said, "While there have been many fleshy, supple, opulent 2006s, this group shows the vintage in its tighter, more compact, tannic and backward persona. These wines need cellar time, more so than many other 2006s. Open them now and expect to be greeted by chewy, earth tannins."

At the end of the tasting, the group was asked to select, by a show of hands, which wines they liked best. The results were as follows:

  • Melbury -- 2006 - 17; 2003 - 16
  • Quella -- 2006 - 11
  • St. Eden -- 2006 - 14; 2001 - 14
  • Vecina -- 2006 - 11; 2000 - 16
  • Pluribus -- 2006 - 15; 2003 - 11
Based on the foregoing it seems that the Melbury was the across-the-board favorite. It was somewhat surprising that the 2000 Vecina scored as well as it did given the problems associated with that vintage across Napa.

1 comment:

  1. Yes for me the 03' Melbury was the wine of the tasting. I loved the luxurious nose and the palate was the most accessible. Still this wine clearly needs more time in the bottle as they all do minus the 00'. Great write up on the Bond tasting I really enjoyed it. I'm sure your glad it's over!! Does my recorder still work??;)