I thought I would post here my thoughts on the wines pre-tasting. The surprise of the night was the '87 which at first encounter was much more of a wine than I expected it to be. It faded very quickly to a bare minimum of interesting, but it was fun while it lasted.
2007 Cadenza (Merlot 76% / Cabernet Franc 16% / Cabernet Sauvignon 8%)
This is classic distinctive Cadenza nearing the top of its game. The Merlot percentage was grown by our friend Jan Waltz, allowing for this wine to be very approachable earlier in its life. It’s starting to wake back up after shutting down for a few years and should hit its peak in a year or two. It’s always been a difficult wine not to like.
2007 Bridge (57% Cabernet Franc / 36% Cabernet Sauvignon / 7% Merlot)
This is our “second wine” in the Bordeaux tradition. 2007 as such a beautiful vintage that we felt that these barrels should be destined for something special. Aging has borne out that intuition. This wine is very approachable and is at its peak of pleasure. Being Franc-centric, it’s a very different style. It lacks the structure for long aging, but still shows well.
2001 Bridge (62% Cabernet Sauvignon / 38% Cabernet Franc)
The first Bridge was a collaboration between John and myself. It was meant to be a “bridge” between his Cadenza and mine. And, truth be told, it’s how I learned the rudiments of making a Cadenza. I’ll share them with you if you like. Turns out making Cadenza is more about reading between the lines than memorizing a script. The Cabernet portion was from Allegro, and Nelson Stewart grew the Cabernet Franc.
2002 Reserve Merlot (89% Merlot / 11% Cabernet Franc)
This vintage is what changed my mind about Merlot. It was a hot and dry year, cut short by rains in October. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc suffered, but the Merlot was picked before the weather worsened. It was the first vintage of Merlot we brought in from Waltz, and it was truly an eye-opener. This wine is one of those that showed well in its youth, while still possessing the power for the long haul. It’s also the first wine to showcase our cellar’s terroir, featuring a new winemaker and non-Allegro wine sources all the while tasting like an Allegro wine.
1998 Cadenza (95% Cabernet Sauvignon / 3% Cabernet Franc / 2% Merlot)
This is the last Cadenza made by John and Tim. John was not a fan of this wine, thinking it’s “feminine” style wasn’t “Allegro” enough. Turns out he was wrong. Just like the 1982 Bordeaux vintage, this one had opulence and longevity. I remember tasting this wine young while still in a tank (as well as on the day we bottled it), and it had gigantic structure to it. The acidity was lower than most vintages, yielding a wine with more approachability.
1994 Cadenza (Cabernet Sauvignon 85%/Cabernet Franc 12%/Merlot 3%)
For me, this has always been the “roasty’ Cadenza. I remember back in 2002 having a bottle with John at a Chef Series dinner and thinking it was nearing its peak at the time. I think he’s right, as the acid is starting to rise and the wine is getting tougher and tougher. But the perfume usually opens my mind every time.
1987 Cabernet Sauvignon
If I remember correctly, this wine is similar to the 1985 in that it was not a Cadenza vintage yet it was most likely a pretty wine in its youth. These days it’s very fragile, and whatever positives it still clings to evaporate very quickly. A good example of why some wines should be cellared and others consumed.
1983 Cabernet Sauvignon
This is a wine that I have never tasted. It’s partner wine is the 1983 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, one of my favorite wines ever from Allegro. It’ll be interesting to see in what way this wine differs from the Reserve version. There’s a chance that it’s an identical wine, since John and Tim only had one Cabernet vineyard. They may have done two pickings, or they may have made one wine and used only the best barrels for the reserve. In any case, I don’t think we’ll be disappointed.
2010 Reserve Merlot ($29)
This is only our second Reserve Merlot at Allegro, and its provenance is an interesting story. Suffice it to say that the fruit was grown at Karamoor by Nelson Stewart. This wine saw ten months in new French oak barrels, and it is just starting to come into its own. It’s not a powerhouse wine—as the fruit was from fifth-leaf vines—but its silky seductiveness and complex aromatics after it opens up are going to be with us for a while. I suspect this wine will have a similar character and trajectory as the 2002
2010 Cadenza (42% Cabernet Sauvignon / 39% Merlot / 19% Cabernet Franc)
One of the most balanced Cadenzas we’ve ever had, the 2010 reminds me of what I imagine the 1983 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon might have tasted like thirty years ago. Enticing and seductive in youth with an inner core of strength that speaks to its potential longevity. The Cabernet portion was grown here at Allegro, and Nelson Stewart grew the Merlot and Cabernet Franc at Karamoor. This year signaled perhaps a switch from the Merlot-heavy Cadenzas to one where Cabernet plays a greater role.
-- February 7, 2015 --