Friday, March 18, 2011

The 2005 cabernets of Eagle’s Trace

Gus Anderson founded Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in 1983, and has since the early 1990s crafted a bunch of very good wines in a style that combines the finest of Napa Valley and Bordeaux. In 2003, a new brand was created, Eagle’s Trace. For this brand, grapes from the best lots (a total of 10.50 hectares) in the estate vineyard are used, and the wines are made by Gus (although he is not young anymore!) and Gonzalo Valleges, who worked at Caymus Vineyards for 16 years.
Besides the six barrels of Pinot Noir from Valhalla Vineyard in the cooler southern parts of Napa Valley, that I’m not particularly found of, the wines of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are very fine and well worth looking for. The Estate Merlot is a blend of 75-80 percent Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and according to Gus, it’s inspired by the wines of St-Emilion and Pomerol.
The merlot, as well as the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and the top selection Cabernet Sauvignon Latitude 38, offers a very elegant aromatic profile, not so different from what’s found in fine bordeaux’s, when they age a few years. However, the body and the structure is for sure Californian, so they are better served to more flavorful dishes than the typical bordelaise food.
There’s not more than 2 000 cases produces annually, so the wines may be hard to find.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon / 90 p
This could be considered as a second wine to the Latitude 38, and in fact it is. Yet it is a very serious wine, fashioned in the same way as its bigger sibling, but with less intensity and concentration. It’s also kind of classic wine, made in a style right inbetween the most typical Napa Valley and Bordeaux styles, with a medium intense and fine tuned dark fruit and a slightly toasted and coffee like oak aroma. Compared to the bigger Latitude 38, I find this to taste even more Bordeaux like, and I cant wait for the years to pass and the wine to evolve into something even more complex. There’s just one negative thing, the finish is a bit dry, but I guess that will change over the coming years, when the tannins starts to soften. Drinking it today, half an hour in a decanter would be just fine, and serving it to lamb, a medium rare steak, braised beef or venison seems very tempting.
Drink it 2013-2020.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Latitude 38 / 91-93 p
Color is young and purple dark red with high intensity. On the nose, it’s concentrated and generous with ripe and deep dark fruit qualities, yet with a very classical scent that reminds me of that of riper vintages at young age in Bordeaux. Part of that resemblance is due to the coffee like oak flavor, which is more common in Bordeaux than in California. Still young, it’s not fully developed, and I noticed how well the wine opened up during the 20 minutes I had the wine in my glass. On the palate, it’s also quite Bordeaux like, however much richer with a sweet scent and a slightly more notable alcohol. It’s still young, tannins are serious and even though they are ripe, they are still not yet fully polished. In the long, rich aftertaste, there’s a slight green note – that’s not because the grapes were unripe, that’s just because the wine is a bit too young. I’d give it some more years.
Drink it 2013-2025.

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