The 2012 wines are already starting to be released, so I’ve tasted several of them, both finished and pre-release. And I’ve read a lot about them. Most people say it is an exceptional vintage. I’ve been pretty impressed, I will say. But that night Tony said this: “Coming off 2011, everyone was so excited about 2012 that it was declared the ‘best vintage ever.’ Looking back and comparing to 2013 that was an overstatement.” Now at that point I hadn’t really tried much of anything from the 2013 vintage. Shortly after that was my trip to Napa where I got the chance to try a lot of wines from 2013. But since this was before my trip, I wasn’t yet sure what to expect from 2013. So hearing Tony speak so highly of it made me pretty excited. And, even better, when I asked him how he’d rank the three upcoming vintages--2012, 2013, and 2014--he put 2013 upfront, followed by 2014, with 2012 coming up behind. That means the “best vintage ever” could be succeeded by two vintages that are even better.
Notes on the wines from dinner:
2013 Sauvignon Blanc
We started off the meal with the fresh and bright sauvignon blanc. There were lots of explosive fruit flavors in this, from citrus and mango to melon and kiwi. The wine was very aromatic as well, in a way that made me think there might be some sémillon blended in here. Turns out no sémillon, but it is a blend of two different types of sauvignon blanc: sauvignon musque and clone 1. I’ve found a lot of producers in Napa using sauvignon musque in their sauvignon blancs. The musque clone grows very well in Napa and I’ve found it to always produce very expressive and aromatic wines. We drank this with sea scallops over a meyer lemon purée.
2012 Hourglass Blueline Merlot
This was probably the surprise wine of the evening. Maybe not my favorite, but it had great complexity. There were flavors of graphite, smoke, and chalk that were complemented by plum, pepper, leather, and both blue and red berries. It had a short finish, probably a factor of how young it is, but it paired really well with the pomegranate duck jus that it accompanied.
2012 Hourglass Blueline Cabernet Sauvignon
It was really fun to taste three different vintages of this wine, and I think it was good to start with the 2012. It had really good blue fruit flavors like blueberry and plum. However, the nose was a bit closed nose and the palate was really tight. Obviously it’s quite a young wine and will need some time to open up. Both this and the 2013 were matched with braised pork over fabulous fresh pappardelle.
2013 Hourglass Blueline Cabernet Sauvignon
Despite being the youngest wine of the night, this was quite drinkable. Smokey and much more expressive than 2012, there was riper fruit such as cherry and currant and even some notes of leather and spice, particularly nutmeg and allspice. But I think this is a great example of a wine that is drinking well now, but will continue to age well.
2011 Hourglass Blueline Cabernet Sauvignon
The 2011 vintage was a much cooler year and many winegrowers had trouble getting the grapes to ripen. This means that the wines had fewer fruit characters and more herb and spice notes. This wine had a lot of that herb quality accompanied by notes of menthol and even cooked meat. While that doesn’t exactly sound pleasant, I enjoyed this one a lot. Despite the cooler weather, this wine did have fruit on palate, as well as coffee, tobacco and black pepper. I like this style of wine because it’s more multi-dimensional. We finished the evening with grilled petite filet mignon.
2011 Cabernet Franc
My favorite of the evening, this wine had a little bit of everything. Cabernet franc ripens sooner than cabernet sauvignon and prefers cooler climates, so it was easier to grow in 2011. There were lots of flavors here but most prominently dark chocolate, blueberry and bit of that cooked meat character as well. It was truly gorgeous on the palate, bright, expressive and well-balanced.