Sunday, October 11, 2020

Château Haut-Batailley Pauillac Bordeaux 2003

Château Haut-Batailley Pauillac Bordeaux 2003

Wine buddy and fellow Pour Boy Bill brought this Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux from his cellar in South Carolina for a wine dinner following our extraordinary dinner and wine flight last evening. This was a great comparison tasting opposite the just released 2018 vintage of Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Château Haut-Batailley is another property of the legendary Borie family, one of the oldest wine producing families in Bordeaux who also own Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. Our visit to the Borie family owned classic second growth Ducru-Beaucaillou estate was one of the highlights of our trip to the Medoc last year. 

Bill brought this label to another wine dinner tasting we held three years ago. At that time I wrote that this wine as probably at the apex of its drinking window, not likely to improve further with aging. While that may be the case, it certainly is holding its own and showed very well again tonight, perhaps better than our earlier tasting, exceeding my expectations for what I was expecting from this label and vintage release. 

Bill's Cellartracker notes from the earlier tasting summed it up well - "Medium garnet with a slight touch of brown at the edges. Earthy nose with the slightest hint of lilac. A bit tight upon opening but within 20 minutes, began to reveal cassis, dark chocolate, a bit of moss and just a hint of mint."

Like our earlier tasting experience, this opened with wonderful Bordeaux aromas of earthy leather, dark fruits and floral but was firm and tight with a moderate gripping tannin backbone - yet smooth and polished rather than overbearing. We set it aside and let it open and breath for a bit which it did so very nicely over the course of the evening. It showed equally well if not better the next evening as we enjoyed the remains of the bottle.

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, complex black fruits with tones of cassis, floral, earthy leather, tobacco and oak, hints of spice and graphite with smooth polished dusty tannins on the lingering finish.

RM 91 points.

Caymus 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvigon

 Caymus 2018 - Haut Batailley 2003

Following our extraordinary dinner and wine flight last evening, we had a follow on dinner of sliced beef left over from the tomahawk ribeyes. We opened the just released 2018 Caymus Napa Cabernet alongside a Château Haut-Batailley Pauillac Bordeaux 2003 for a comparison tasting. 

Caymus 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvigon

I have written in these pages often about the allure of Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Caymus has a signature style that is dark in color, with rich fruit and ripe, velvety tannins. It is known to be consistently approachable in youth for early gratification as well as being ageworthy to enjoy in maturity. Caymus do an incredible job crafting an elegant sophisticated wine year after year, in large quantities. 

Caymus sources grapes for their benchmark label from eight of Napa’s 16 sub-appellations. They note that this diversification enables them to make the best possible wine in a given year. Caymus Cabernet is known for complex layers, lush aromas and flavors, including cocoa, cassis and ripe dark berries. The Caymus style and consistency is achieved through rigorous disciplined viticulture practices such as crop thinning, which allows measured sunlight to reach the vine’s fruit zone, and extended ‘hang time’ whereby the fruit is left on the vine for an unusually long period to develop flavors and aromas.

This 2018 release is classic Caymus and lives up to its reputation as noted above. This is the 46th vintage of Caymus Cabernet, which happens to coincide with the number of years we've been married. Back in 2014 on our shared fortieth anniversary, they changed their packaging and labeling to include the anniversary year on the top of the foil capsule. Ever since, Caymus is a favorite go-to wine for our personal celebrations.   

The name ‘Caymus’ originates from the Mexican land grant named Ranchos Caymus, given to George Yount in 1836 to encompass what would become the town of Rutherford and surrounding areas.

We visited the Caymus Estate in Rutherford in the heart of Napa Valley, during our Napa Wine Experience in 2018. The 100% family owned Caymus was founded in 1971 by Charlie Wagner, his wife Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, and son Chuck. The winery was constructed among the vines planted on the family’s Rutherford ranch vineyard. Their first vintage in 1972 produced a modest 240 cases of wine. Forty years later, Caymus farms Cabernet grapes in eight of Napa’s 16 sub-appellations to ensure the pick of the year’s fruit and produces an incredible 65,000 cases for distribution around the world.

The 2018 vintage is no exception. In typical Caymus style, this Cabernet is deep mulberry in colour with aromas of blackberry jam, cassis, currant and cocoa. Straight out of the gates it delivers a hefty punch of fruit to the palate followed by tantalizing notes of anise, cocoa, cherry vanilla, tobacco and a hint of pepper. While abundant in tannins it retains a softness that guarantees a silky mouthfeel and sultry finish.

This release is darker, bigger, firmer and richer than I remember from older past vintages. This was dark garnet colored, full bodied, rich concentrated and firmly structured super-ripe blackberry and black raspberry fruits are complex with notes of cola, cassis, with hints of vibrant cinnamon and clove spices, mocha and vanilla, turning to firm gripping tannins on the long finish. It need several years to integrate and settle more gracefully.

RM 93 points.