Monday, December 14, 2009

Woodside Vineyards barrel tasting 12/13/09

Woodside Vineyards source exclusively from the 26 vineyards they manage within the town of Woodside. Most of their acreage would be considered old vines. Some are quite old.

Their La Questa Vineyard dates back to 1886, the current vines being planted between 1895 and 1905 using cuttings from Chateau Margaux. Emmet Rixford won international acclaim with his La Questa Cabernet. To give an idea of the quality and prestige, in 1915 he charges $2 a bottle, when the typical bottle of wine went for 5 cents. That translates roughly to $200 in today's money. Martin Ray restored the vineyard in the '40s, using cuttings to plant his Mount Eden Vineyard, and using the grapes for the early Martin Ray Cabernets. Around 1960, Bob Mullen and some friends again restored the vineyard and founded Woodside Vineyards. There's only 1 acre left, on three properties, of what was once a much larger vineyard. Occasionally, this wine is deemed distinct enough to bottle separately, otherwise it is blended into their Estate Cabernet.

We were treated to a couple wines before the tour of the barrel room:

'07 Chardonnay Estate (SCM)
Nose - shy, round, spicy.
Heavy brown oak, lemony, some really nice notes, but overpowered by woody oak. Ashamed, but I guess they're throwing a bone to the popular style. 80 pts

'06 Pinot Noir Estate (SCM)
Nose - intense, brambly, foresty, spicy. Wow!
Allspice, zesty, complex, dusty-smooth, pith, sandalwood, lower-key black fruit medley. Needs a year. 91 pts

In the barrel room, these are being offered as futures at a 25% discount:

'08 Pinot Noir Estate (SCM) barrel sample
Nose - round, sweetish, zesty boysenberry, some pink peppercorn and pith, smoky, smooth tannin. (91)

'07 Zinfandel Estate (SCM) barrel sample
These vines were planted in 1897 and yield 1 ton per acre.
Nose - ethereal, smooth, rich, lovely spiced black and blue fruit.
Lovely spiced blackberry, smoke, dark mineral, good acidity, citron, nutmeg, a bit grippy, zesty, some pith, a touch of persimmon. Some zestiness, dusty tannin and vanillin on the finish. (93)

'07 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (SCM) barrel sample
This includes 20% La Questa Vineyard.
Nose - Rich, dusty, black currant and blackberry, hint of peppercorn.
Grippy. Nice classic black currant and cedar. This is a flawless epitome of classic SCM Cab. Tight structure and not showing a great deal of complexity at the moment, this is a wine that will reward 20 years in the cellar. (93-95)

We then finished up with their just released Zinfandel port, made from those same 1897 vines.

'05 Woodside Port (SCM)
Nose - smooth, warm, marachino and boysenberry, clove, allspice, sandalwood, pecan.
Sweet, marachino liqueur, blueberry and boysenberry jams, nutmeg, clove, some heat. Sweeter and simpler than the '04. 91 pts


Tim Corliss said...

thanks for the notes Wes. I can't wait to try the Cabernet and the Port. I went ahead and signed up for their wine club. It seems things will be getting better and better.

Dave said...

Just posted my notes. I couldn't make the Chardonnay out over all the smoke from that fire so I deferred judgment for now, but I got a lot of oak too which is a shame. Hopefully it'll settle down with some cellar time.

I've never weighed up the Woodside estate cabernets. They seem like wines that need a lot of time, but I've never had a really old one to judge it against. I opened a 2002 this year and it was still too young and tannic, as was the 1997 La Questa that I foolishly opened a few years back.

Wes Barton said...

Dave, the oldest Woodside Cab I still have is a couple '99 Estates. Maybe we can pop one next time we get together. Should give an accelerated view of how a stronger vintage ages.

Wes Barton said...

Dave, I had an '85 Woodside Estate Cab a couple years ago ago alongside an '86 Monte Bello, and I preferred the Woodside, to a small degree. I was in the minority in that opinion, but they were both excellent.