Sunday, January 10, 2021

Neiman Cellars Caldwell Vineyard Red Wine 2001

Neiman Cellars Caldwell Vineyard Proprietary Red 2001

Linda prepared grilled beef tenderloin, scalloped potatoes, mixed vegetables and sauteed mushrooms for a dinner with Sean and Michelle. I wanted to serve a distinctive wine so I pulled from the cellar this aged Napa Cabernet based Red Blend for the dinner. 

Neiman Cellars is the project of Drew Neiman, an independent winemaker crafting small batch artisan wines sourcing fruit from some of the best vineyards in Napa Valley. Drew was introduced to the trade by his cousins who owned a wine shop in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He came to California to study viticulture at UC Davis and in 1994 started work under legendary winemaker John Kongsgaard, rising through the ranks from harvest help to assistant winemaker.

Drew established Neiman Cellars in 1997 with 3 tons of purchased fruit. Working with leading growers including David Abreu, John Caldwell, and Pat Haynes, sourcing fruit from arguably some of the best vineyards in Napa Valley, total production grew to 600 cases of minimal intervention, handcrafted, artisan small batch wine.

His craft work drew wide attention and high praise. Wine critic Robert Parker called him “brilliant”, and he was mentioned in FOOD & WINE, Wine Spectator and InStyle. Neiman Cellar wines were featured on the wine lists of notable high end restaurants including the French Laundry, Per Se, Gary Danko, The Beverly Hills Hotel, and the James Beard House in New York City.

This label is a single vineyard designated Bordeaux Blend containing all the Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot, sourced from the Caldwell Vineyard high above the town of Napa on the eastern slope of the Vaca Range. At one time, Drew offered tastings in the caves of Caldwell Vineyards.

The Caldwell property is owned and operated by John Caldwell who has become somewhat of a legend in Napa Valley who planted the first vines in 1982. Since then, Caldwell has been the grape source selected by leading winemakers for many notable premium labels including Pahlmeyer (Helen Turley), Joseph Phelps’s Insignia, Moone Tsai (Philippe Melka), Merus, Patz and Hall, Stéphane Derenoncourt and of course, Neiman. We served and I wrote about the Pahlmeyer Caldwell Vineyard Napa Valley Red Blend 1990 recently in these pages. 

Over time, John has developed the Caldwell Vineyards and estate into one of the most unique wine estates in Napa growing 28 different clone-specific grape varieties. He also was one of the first U.S. wineries to operate its own in-house barrel cooperage, with less than a dozen other wineries in the world doing so.  

Working with his wife Joy and winemaker Marc Gagnon, Caldwell has developed and grown the Caldwell proprietary brand with a portfolio of more than two dozen labels marketed under the Caldwell Signature Collection and Varietal Collection which include the whimsically named labels "Rocket Science" and "Society of Smugglers".

The inaugural release of the Neiman Caldwell label was the 1998 vintage proprietary red wine, crafted from the finest blocks on the vineyard, with 500 cases produced. The blend of Caldwell Proprietary Red consisted of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 15% Syrah,

We acquired and consumed and wrote about that 1998 vintage Neiman release (October 01, 2009, July 23, 2011) as well as the '99 (August 19, 2015), the 2000 (April 11, 2014), the 2004  (August 24, 2017, and May 16, 2015), and this 2001 release. We still hold a few bottles of this 2001 and the 2002 as well. The last vintages I can find evidence of were the 2007 and 2008.

Neiman Cellars Caldwell Vineyard Proprietary Red 2001

This is the third time I have served and written about this label in these pages. We last had it the fall of 2015 when I wrote: "This wine comes packaged in a heavy oversized, almost magnum weight bottle. Consistent with our last tasting of this wine, it was a perfect complement to the beef and the pork chop entrees, dark garnet/purple colored, medium-full bodied, smooth, polished, complex full flavors of spicy blackberry and subtle red raspberry with tones of clove and sweet dark mocha turning to finely integrated tannins on the smooth lingering finish."

Tonight was consistent with that earlier tasting. Like that Pahlmeyer Caldwell Vineyard Napa Valley Red Blend 1990, this release, at two decades, this wine is still showing well and showing no signs of diminution. Tonight I gave this 92 points, as I did at that previous tasting. 

According to the rear label of this bottle, 148 cases were produced of this release.