On October 8 our very good friends at Artisan Wine Depot invited us for an exceptional tasting event. They were hosting a Heitz Cellars Vertical at Artisan. Heitz is, of course, world-renowned. They source grapes for some of their cabs from the Martha’s Vineyard plot, equally and justifiably famous.
Heitz was pouring their 2014 chardonnay followed by eight cabs ranging from 1998 to 2012. We’ll get the chardonnay out of the way first – but we did buy two bottles so take that as a recommendation.
The 2014 Napa Valley chardonnay ($24) is very lightly oaked with no detectable malolactic flavors. Aromas of fresh-cut grass and Meyer lemons followed by blood orange and green apple palate. Unusual and very good.
Now on to the main event, eight cabernet sauvignons. Per the instructions of our host we tasted from youngest to oldest. Heitz’s 2012 Napa Valley ($50) had a little too much acid for our taste. Flavors of blackberries and cassis were nice additions. But the 2011 Napa Valley ($40) was very good and well-balanced. We were greeted us with aromas and flavors of blackberries and licorice.
The next three were all from the Trailside Vineyard, Rutherford, Napa Valley. The 2010 ($70) was almost as good as the 2011. The main features were aromas of leather and old wood followed by currant and mineral palate. But the 2006 ($65) struck us as somewhat flat with a musty aroma and flavor. Again not to our taste. Finally the 2004 ($75) was a little off-putting similar to the 2006.
The last three cabs were from the Martha’s Vineyard Napa Valley. The 2005 ($150) proved once again that our palates are not sophisticated enough for wines priced much above $75. But we could tell that there were plenty of tannins backed by some terrific grape juice. If you buy this one, wait at least five years before opening. And we’ll make the same comment about the 2004 ($150). Patience with either of these will be rewarded.
The star of the show was a 1998 Martha’s Vineyard ($110). If you want an expensive, classy wine to open for, say, New Year’s Eve this year, you won’t be disappointed. Minty currant and oak flavors precede a firm. dry, tannic cabernet that is well-balanced with chewy cherry, plum and strawberry flavors. Per the advice of everyone in the room, drink this one before the end of 2016.
Thanks again to Artisan for inviting us to this special event.