September 11, 2015

CANVAZ road trip day 3: visiting Colgin and Araujo

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After padding our stomachs with simple breakfast at the hotel, we set off for our day in Napa an hour early.  Smooth traffic into and out of San Francisco meant that we arrived in the valley an hour before our first appointment.  So we spent a few minutes strolling Main Street in St. Helena and enjoying the sunny and warm weather.

We had good directions from the winery and navigation help from Google Maps, so we showed up at the gates of IX Estate for our visit to Colgin Cellars.  I've been a fan of Ann Colgin and her wines for a long time, and after meeting her and Joe a couple of times in Asia, I'm glad I finally made it here.

I finally met Beverly, who's responsible for mailing list customers, as she came to greet us.  Annie was kind enough to show us around the winery.  As we arrived in the middle of the harvest, we watched as the crew unloaded boxes of grapes onto the de-stemming machine.  The grapes were then loaded onto a conveyer belt for sorting.

We went to look at the tanks below, and for the first time I got to see "gravity flow" in action as the grapes were fed from the sorting belt into the tanks.

Photo courtesy of dad
The winery's "library" included all of Colgin's vintages in various formats, including a couple of bottles of Ann's very first vintage, which had been sold at auction and had the famous "Colgin kiss" on the labels.  We were also privileged enough to visit Ann and Joe's prized collection next door, housing many, many bottles of large format DRCs and Bordeaux First Growths.

Finally, we went back up to the main drawing room area and got a chance to admire the couple's art and antiques collection, as well as their basketball collection, before sitting down for a tasting.  But I did manage to greet one of the residents... just wasn't sure whether it was Corton or Gevrey...

Annie very generously poured us 3 different wines to taste:

2012 Colgin Cariad - a little cool and muted at first, slightly smoky, pretty alcoholic on the nose, with forest, bacon, and minty notes.  Pretty spicy going down the back of the throat.  Opened up a little more as time went on, and became more aromatic.

2012 Colgin IX Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - more fruit here, with more oak, along with forest, bacon, and leather notes.  Vanilla and caramel notes came out later, along with tropical notes.  So nice! Initially tannins were more noticeable here.

2005 Colgin IX Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - much riper on the nose, with blackcurrant and cedar notes.  Much more developed in terms of aromatics, and so fragrant!

We went out on the terrace to take in the gorgeous view over Lake Hennessey, bid our farewells and headed to lunch.

We were running late from a slow lunch, and arrived at Araujo Estate quite a bit past the time suggested for us.  As the weather was so hot it didn't make sense to do a walk in the vineyards, so we headed indoors.

Photo courtesy of dad
Araujo was also in the middle of harvest - where they pick the grapes at night - and were only about 2 days from finishing picking.  They were also busy sorting the grapes when we arrived...

We went straight into the cellar for a tasting, among barrels of 2014.  Burges generously shares 4 different wines with us.

2012 Araujo Eisele Vineyard Syrah - very ripe fruit, a little alcoholic, but so fragrant!  Sweet on the palate.

2012 Araujo Altagracia - apparently this vintage had all the cabernet franc and petit verdot, which meant this had a lot of character.  Nose was more metallic, lots of exotic spices, almost tea smoked.  Very soft on the palate.

2012 Araujo Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon - this was the first year that the team from Latour took over, and thanks to Frédéric Engerer's analytical (and scientific?) approach, only the best blocks of cabernet sauvignon went into this wine.  The nose was very fragrant, with lots of cedar and floral notes.  A little savory, too... and perhaps also a little dirty and funky at the same time?

2013 Araujo Eisele Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc - wow!  What a beautiful wine!  Lemon, mineral, flinty notes.  Soooo fragrant!  Ripe and almost sweet on the palate.

Mom had a little incident while tasting, which served to cut our visit short and made sure that Burges was on time for the next group.  While the visit was a little short in terms of time, I still really enjoyed our visit and my conversation with Burges about the changes that the Latour team were making.  And I'm sad that the delicious Araujo Grappa was no longer being made.

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