I had heard tell of a 94 point and a 92 pts score from Robert Parker quite recently. Time to finish a vertical tasting I started 5 months ago. I’m not actually a procrastinator, folks. I simply had to wait for them to release the 2010 Cabernet.
Worth the wait.
My first visit to the Laurel Glen Vineyard tasting room was in October for Sonoma Valley Reserve. A group of 10 of us Sonoma winos visited 4 small batch wineries on this exclusive outing. We arrived at the vineyard first high in the mountains. At 1,000 feet above sea level, the rows of vines looked beautiful, against the backdrop of the Sonoma Valley below. We walked through the vineyards, had a private tasting as well as a lesson in the organic shift that the winery had taken, all the while enjoying views on a private deck among the vines.
It was October and the color changes were wonderful although with an early 2013 harvest, the grapes were already in the tanks and the fingers of the vines were bare. Deep purples, oranges, red and yellows….oh my!
After our mountainous journey, we headed down to the Laurel Glen tasting room off Highway 12 in Glen Ellen, California. On the table was placed a vertical flight for each of us with literature and lovely accessories. We sipped on the 2003, 05 and 09 Cabernet. Pouring a 2003 Cabernet is always a treat for guests of a tasting room and the differences in the vintages were very apparent. Although, don’t take me wrong, they all drank beautifully.
Originally planted in the 1880’s, the present-day vineyard was developed in the 1970’s by Sonoma wine pioneer Patrick Campbell. The 1st vintage of Laurel Glen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was made in 1981. The vineyard’s combination of high altitude, eastern exposure, rocky soils, and small diurnal temperature swings combine to produce very distinctive wines.
On my most recent visit, I had made arrangements to meet with team leader Bettina Sichel through social media. She had invited me to taste the new release of their 2010 Cabernet which had received a 92 pts score recently from good ole’ Mr. Parker himself. Twist my arm.
We had bantered back and forth since my last visit on twitter and it was kind and smart of her as a business owner to invite me in instead of waiting for me to ring the bell. I have found that some wineries are terrific at maintaining business relationships and understand the importance role that local critics play for marketing one’s product and others do not understand sales at all. To each his own. Laurel Glen gets it.
I am not usually a Rose fan and admittedly the only Rose I have found and liked was a Claypool Cellars I had at their release party a few years back. Time to add another Rose to the list.
I was impressed at not only the taste of such a complex pink wine but also with the story of the grapes.
A single row of the original vines planted at Laurel Glen Vineyard in the 1880’s survives today. Starting with vintage 2012, what little fruit these old vines produce is pressed into a field blend Rosé, which they mix with Cabernet. Half the wine is Cabernet Sauvignon; half is a mix of crazy old red varietals, many of which they can’t identify with any certainty…much fun.
I bought a bottle of the Rose for a bridal shower I was attending soon and it was a huge hit among the ladies. Next, let’s talk Cabernet!
My Favorites included:
LAUREL GLEN VINEYARD ‘THE LAUREATE’ CABERNET SAUVIGNON
94pts, Robert Parker
David Ramey took over as consulting winemaker for Laurel Glen Vineyard shortly after the 2010 harvest. The Laureate, of which 87 cases were produced in 2010, is our tribute to David’s ideal of Cabernet . . . rich, powerful and unabashedly opulent. The Laureate boasts a dark purple color different from the other Cabernets we had poured.
It also had blackberry notes that I loved and a slight floral nose. This was a superb example of Sonoma County high elevation Cabernet. Having already sipped on their 2003 Cabernet, I would say this could stand up to twice that time if not longer. It was one to remember. I understand that at each test tasting, David Ramey commented that “this was the one”. As you may notice from the photo, it was also the “one” for me. I enjoyed a bottle with Roast chicken, green beans and potatoes. Yum. Thanks Bettina and Jacqueline.
JUST RELEASED FEBRUARY IS
2010 LAUREL GLEN CABERNET SAUVIGNON
David Ramey and Randall Watkins have assembled a beautiful, rich, complex wine, which Robert Parker calls, “the finest Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon I have tasted in over a decade.” Let’s hope you agree! Click here for tasting notes and reviews. It is intensely dark, with ripe and is another long term ager… It has more of a spice note than the Laureate and seems silky.
After 30 vintages, Patrick Campbell sold the vineyard and winery to a group of wine lovers, led by wine industry veteran Bettina Sichel. The new team includes viticulturalist Phil Coturri, winemaker Randall Watkins and renowned vintner David Ramey. Under their stewardship, the reputation of Laurel Glen Vineyard is being rebuilt through refinements to the vineyard and the wine making.
Also Tasted was the Laurel Glen Counterpoint Cabernet which is comprised of lots from the vineyard which display more forward fruit and softer tannins, resulting in a wine meant to be enjoyed at the time of release. This is a good price point for a fine Cabernet and is a good introduction to those meeting the Laurel Glen family. It smelled to me of tobacco, cherry, and somewhat herby (is that a word?). It had ripe red fruit, darker and has oak and earthy tones as well.
I enjoyed it and like the new label which Bettina showed me a mockup of. It is always nice when the winery owner will go out of their way to show a guest something new or to get feedback on a new idea the winery may run with. Helping to give that personal feel, at Laurel Glen vineyards, I though both Bettina and Jacqueline were top notch. By the end of the afternoon, we had all whipped out our Kate Spade purses (which we had earlier realized we all had an obsession over) and shot a purse and cab style photo layout.
Before I had arrived, they had discussed me stopping by and had tasted a few bottles that were opened 4 days previous to my visit.
Then decided to ask me if I would like to try these as well as the fresh open bottles just to see what the air had exposed. Not one to pass down a test when it involves pouring wine. I was in. It was thoughtful as well as fun and a unique experience to taste this way. Also received a “going away” present from the wine owner herself and was one that I will not forget….
Good Karma and good people at Laurel Glen.
Much love and thanks Bettina for my care package and Jacqueline for the kindness. I enjoyed my time at this small winery, appointment only tasting room and recommend it for large or small groups looking for a more personalized experience than you will get from a larger tasting room and also recommend it for those who love delicious Cabernet of course.
*Clink *Clink Cheers all.