Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hundred Acre wines 2005

The Hundred Acre Vineyard is a great venture of lawyer turned into winegrower Jason Woodbridge and his talented consultant winemaker Philippe Melka. It all started in the late 90s, and the first wines were made in 2000, so it’s still a very young winery. It’s all about high end ripe Cabernet Sauvignon from the small estate vineyards in Calistoga (close to Rombauer) and Howell Mountain. The first vintages were made at Quintessa and Rombauer, but now they have their own winery, in which both small oak fermenters and stainless steel tanks are used for the alcoholic fermentation. Although high ripeness is part of the concept here, Philippe says he never adjusts the acidity, and I do believe him. Even at this concentration, ripe fruit and high alcohol level (15.0 to 15.5 percent), there is a fine balance, and acidity is well balanced. However, these are not wines for people who think anything outside Bordeaux is too much, too ripe and too high in alcohol.
Production is very limited, approximately 1 500 cases per year in total, prices high ($225 per bottle, at least) and the wines hard to get.

2005 Kayli Morgan Vineyard / 94-96 p
This wine comes from the Kayli Morgan Vineyard in the northwest section of Napa Valley. As all three wines from Hundred Acre Vineyard (the third one, not tasted this time, is the Ark Vineyard), it’s matured in brand new French oak barrels. It’s a lovely wine, highly concentrated and loaded with dark fruit, with some viscosity, a warm but not unbalanced sensation of the alcohol, and the tannins are huge and firm, but so well integrated in the body of the wines, they almost feels silky. Sweetness is a subjective part of the flavors here, but still the long lingering aftertaste is dry, which adds complexity to the wine. At this young age, oak is also present, but in a pleasant way with just some vanilla notes and a slight bitterness in the end of the taste. When tasted, it needed at least 20 minutes in the glass to open up, but I would recommend at least one hour in a decanter before serving it at approximately 18 degrees.
Drink it 2010-2025.

2005 Deep Time / 94 p
Woodbridge and Melka uses the same vineyard source here, but this is a very strict selection from the best sections in the vineyard, and the best and most ripe grapes. Vinification is carried out in the same way, with one very important difference – this wine is kept in the new French oak barrels for 36-40 months! This practice shows very well. Poured direct from the bottle, the coconut and vanilla aromas dominates the nose, although there is a great amount of rich, ripe and beautifully pure dark fruit underneath. It’s wrong to describe this wine as closed, but for sure it needs time to open up fully – actually it took more than 20 minutes in the glass for the fruit to climb over the oak costume, and further 20 minutes of so for some complexity to show. At this young age, it’s a very good and promising wine indeed, but it is not really as complex and elegant as the “regular” Kayli Morgan Vineyard. Since it was the first time I tasted this wine (first vintage was 2001), I don’t know how it will evolve, but I guess it follows the same path as the Kayli Morgan bottling. Due to the higher alcohol level, the abundant use of oak, will it keep as long?
Drink it 2012-2022.

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