2015 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
“94+ Points: a smokin’ good blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot. Its deep purple/plum color is followed by a terrific perfume of blackcurrants, nori (seaweed wrapper), dark chocolate and licorice, and it develops more minerality with time in the glass. Rich, full-bodied, concentrated and structured, it has sweet tannin, a great mid-palate, and a big finish…”
- Jeb Dunnock 12/29/2017
“93 Points: the deep garnet-purple colored 2015 Estate Reserve has an earthy nose with spicy red and black fruit preserves and some dusty earth and bark suggestions. Full-bodied, rich and concentrated, it’s firm and chewy in the mouth with lovely flavor layers and a long, spicy finish.”
- Wine Advocate, 12/29/2017
94 Points, The Wine Enthusiast
Varietal: 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot
Appellation: 100% Napa Valley, 100% Estate Grown
Harvest: September 21 through October 1st, 2015
Bottled: August 2017
Released: March 2018
Barrel Regime: 100% French Oak for 22 months bottled unfined & unfiltered
$1098/case (Suggested retail price for a case containing 6 of each; not for sale elsewhere online)
Since 1983 we have been family owned and operated by the Andersons, and since our first release in 1987, Conn Valley Vineyards has been dedicated to producing world class wines. Our 40 acre Estate is located just south of Howell Mountain in Conn Valley.
Four generations of Andersons have worked on this property to grow the finest Cabernet fruit and to bring out the best expression of the land’s truly unique terroir. Todd Anderson has managed the process from the first day to the present and developed an innate knowledge of the property’s capacity to produce grapes with an ideal physiological ripeness. Todd and his family have produced prodigious wines of elegance, balance and graceful power for three decades.
“You can have perfect acid, sugar, and pH and you’re still not going to make a great wine. You really need that physiological ripeness that everybody talks about – that, and a true sense of balance" Todd says.
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FedEx Ground: Monday, August 27th - Wednesday, August 29th
@GatorFL I don’t blame you but I understand the site uses more than a few ways to preserve the wine just for this reason, and especially to FL. If you do this, and run into a problem after shipping, you just call me at the winery here and I’ll take care of it myself. (Jim, GM of Anderson’s Conn Valley.)
@MSUMike. I’ve been buying lots of vino, but basically splitting cases with a good friend who lives a couple blocks away. Makes it simple. Didn’t get this one but if you want to split a case up, I’ll take a pair and he’ll take a pair. (4 total) I think you’re a no freight man too but if you want me to buy it, let me know.
@mb1973 I can tell you flat out, the 16 is a truly great wine, no compromises of any kind. It is singularly the best non-reserve we’ve ever made. In this case, the Reserve is the eye-catcher, but the 2016 you’ll be calling me at the winery for a week from now to buy a case. (I did submit it to Wine Spectator btw, hasn’t been reviewed yet though…) (Discl. I’m the GM of this winery.)
@jimsilver Thanks for the response. As someone just getting started with more expensive wines, it’s sometimes difficult to make the leap. In this case, half of the pairing is very well known and regarded. I just wanted to try and get a better understanding of the other half so I knew what I was getting into.
@jimsilver@mb1973 I’m not challenging how good this '16 may be, (I enjoy your wines) but just trying to make sense of the offer. There is a '16 offered currently at wine exchange for slightly less than $35. Are they the same wine? Thank you.
@Kildahl@mb1973 Yes, that’s the same wine. I wanted to put my high end together with the entry level for a number of reasons. It buries the cost and spreads out the pricing, which is good marketing, full disclosure, but also it demonstrates really great terroir - here’s the same vineyards, the same winemaker, and two disparate styles of wine - new wood versus old, reserve versus non-. It’s a fun lot, and an enjoyable experience.
This is a 93 point Wine Advocate (plus 94 from WE and Jeb Dunnuck) Napa cab from ridiculous vineyards. An assured example of Napa Cabernet at $50.00 per bottle (if you go in on it with a few friends). IMHO.
@Winedavid49 I like the way your math works. It makes me happy I was able to promote a hundred dollar bottle in this fashion…try to get it to a new audience too…You will NOT be disappointed. (full discl. I am the winery’s GM.)
@jimsilver It certainly wasn’t intended to make anyone feel foolish, particularly someone who’s new to the site – I was just trying to light a fire under whoever it is that has the capability to switch it on. And, the good news is, it worked!
@InFrom@rjquillin@Thumperchick@Winedavid49 Sure - the non-reserve is essentially the old wood, the vast, vast majority French of course. The Reserve is about 55% new wood though - and it wears it pretty well. We use a very tight grained Nadalie barrel called a “Colbert”. It’s remarkable and expressive. It’s far superior to the typical Tarransaud found so often in Napa (smells like Cocoa…) Just my opinion there. Also Quintessence, and Marques barrels - floral, aromatic, tight, mineral and long - more serious than just a vanilla and espresso oak flavor profile. The good news is the two bottle lot here is very instructive - the same wine in two styles, and I have to say it’s wonderful to see the terroir expressed with such truth and dignity in both wines.
@InFrom@rjquillin@Thumperchick@Winedavid49 See below on the oak notes…I will say the vines are quite old now - and MOST important is the clonal selection. We have four that are serious and significant. Block 1 is Bonny’s Clone (Silver Oak) which was a gift to our winery from Justin Meyer in the 80s. Block 2 is a Jordan clone of Wente 4 origin. Block 3 is the best - an Eisele clone sourced from Shafer’s Hillside Select vineyards about 20 years ago. Block 4 is 337, common but uncommonly good, with tons of black fruit flavors. The non-reserve bottle favors Block 1, but includes them all, while the Reserve favors block 2, but includes them all as well.
Cool stuff. So the “entry level” is in older/neutral oak while the reserve is in 55% new oak? I guess that’s a pretty common way that wineries do it.
A bunch of us did a clonal tasting with Anthony Bell a few years ago, but none of these are the same except 337! Some of us preferred Clone 4 while most (iirc) preferred Clone 6/Jackson Clone. Why did you make the clonal selections that you listed above?
@klezman We used some of the Bell wines to compare to ours too. Very interesting tasting. His wines are down near Yountville, north of Oak Knoll, while ours are about 400 ft. higher elevation, so there are some marked differences. We actually bottled our clones separately in 2012 and 2013 which is really interesting (and available to buy) but I digress of course. The selections were made decades ago and not by me, so it’s hard to say. Suffice it though, they are a premiere selection. (Bonny’s was a no-brainer as they were in fact - free!)
@klezman We are, I feel, the low-tech winery. What we don’t have is easier to list than what we do…we are traditional to the core, and frankly the most consistent producer of terroir driven Napa cabs you’re likely to come across…We don’t have a recipe. Taste it, you’ll know that these are wines of real depth, integrity and complexity. Not the manufactured kind - but the kind that makes you passionate about a particular house.
@klezman One other thing - our entire company is eight people, and that includes the owner. You’re rarely going to see more honesty in a wine, I think. We wear a lot of hats, and we’re very proud of the product. (Oh, and it’s like 3 per cent Petit Verdot.)
@MarkDaSpark We’re a rare winery that can put on a vertical tasting of 30 vintages of Cab, with NO skips, and have EVERY ONE OF THEM be solid as a rock. Our wines last and last primarily because they are balanced - and the 15 and 16 are extremely well balanced. Much better than say the 14 and 11 but just as good if not better than the 12 and 13 vintages. Hold the non-reserve for 2 years, as long as 10. Hold the reserve for 5-7 and for as long as 20-25 under ideal conditions.
@jimsilver Thank you for the great winery participation. I did not need your input (prodding) to make the purchase. I am a fan of your wines and this was a great opportunity to not break the bank in order to buy some (more).
@jimsilver@StingingJ On the other hand, can you drink this Estate Reserve now? I had a couple bottles of your 2014 Eloge and that thing was super wound up. Saving the other bottle for a few more years at least.
@scott0210@StingingJ I admit that I didn’t love the 14 Eloge as much as some did, but that’s me. On the other hand I feel you will be rewarded for your patience if you hang on to that for another 4-5 years. It should really show great complexity at that point. Can you drink the 15 Reserve? Well, we do all the time, but of course aging gives the best results. If you wanted to, say, drink this on Thanksgiving, I would decant it for 2 hours plus. Like all of our wines, it would really sing if you did that!
@jimsilver Thanks I’ll stick to my hold plan for the Eloge. I enjoy your wines. You all had a nice tasting a couple of years ago at Benders in Canton, OH. Fun time. Do you still make the Prologue? That was always a great $20 something go-to wine.
I am relatively new to wine tasting, so please forgive me if what I ask is sacrilege. Since I can only afford the two bottle offer, what would be the “perfect” food pairing for the 2015…or is it meant to be consumed by itself? Is it too early to drink it now? Full disclosure: I am planning a 20th anniversary dinner for my wife, and I want it to be “perfect”.
@gillisr If you were trying to make this “perfect” then I would suggest that the pairing been not with the food but with the wife. Does this sound like the type of wine that she likes best? A middle to ripe, middle to oaky, young (for now) Napa cab?
@gillisr Right now, any serious 2015 Cabernet will be quite tannic. The alcohol level is high, and the acidity relatively low (the high pH tells you that). IF you want to drink a wine like that now with food, you need something that will stand up to it. Red meat is usually considered the best pairing for Cabernet, with lamb historically considered the ideal pairing for Cabernet. In the case of a young Cabernet, and this is a baby, you will probably want grilled lamb - leg or chops, done no more than medium rare. You could also do a grilled steak While most experts think Pinot Noir - specifically Premier or Grand Cru Burgundy - is the best wine for beef, I’m not sure that’s really true with a grilled steak. (Though it’s certainly true for roasts and other many ‘indoor’ preparations of beef).
You have to ask yourself what your wife enjoys eating, and what she enjoys drinking. Does she like big, tannic reds? Or, does she like lighter red wines, such as Pinot Noir? Does she prefer whites? Which kind of whites? Rich - Chardonnay, white Burgundy, white Rhone style - or lighter ‘fresher’ like Sauvignon Blance, Sancerre, Pinot Grigio or ??? A ‘perfect’ meal with perfect wine pairing may stretch your wife’s palate and preferences, but should certainly not ignore them.
That said, those of us who have been Cabernet fanciers for many decades tend to believe it is a sacrilege (my usual term is infanticide) to open a really great Cabernet before a minimum of ten years from the vintage date. There’s historical precedent for this, in Europe, and before Prohibition in the US, Cabernet based wines (usually Bordeaux in Europe) were typically sold and consumed around the age of 10, or older. There were differences in vinification, aging and bottling (Wines were typically aged in large wooden casks for several years and bottled shortly before they were to be sold. Chateau bottling is mostly a post WWI phenomenon. Only the English tended to lay bottled wine down for another decade or more beyond that), but the idea was Cabernet needs time for the tannins to soften and marry with the fruit and bottle age flavors. Based on my 60-odd years of tasting Cabernet based wines, I think that’s right. My own practice is not to even consider opening a Cabernet (other than to see how it’s developing) before 10 years from the vintage date, and usually a bit longer. I’m just starting to drink Cabernets from 2000-2005. I’ll drink the ones I think won’t be so long lived over the next year or two, and save the ones I think will be long lived in another 5 years or so, depending on the vintage. (Of course, most of my Cabs from this period are from better years…) The strong 2007s and 2009s I won’t start on for another for or five years, with the expectation that the best wines from those vintages will carry me to the late 2020s. The superb 2012s (a vintage the equal of 1970, which I don’t expect to peak before 25 years from vintage and to hold for 5-10 after that), will care me well into, if not through the 2030s, assuming I can still drink red wine in my mid to late '80s.
But, I’m unusual. Most folks, even most folks who like Cabernet, drink it much younger. If you’re going to do that, drink it before it’s 6 or so. Cabs tend to go to sleep and be less than interesting - ‘tight’ or ‘dumb’ - for a period from 6-7 until about 10-12 years old.
@rpm Thank you. This (and the previous reply) are very helpful. I will certainly take her tastes into account, but my culinary skills are limited, so it will be steak or salmon.
Her tastes run to Sancerre/Sauvignon Blanc and oaky Chardonnay for whites, and Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir for reds. Sancerre and the Pinot Noir are for sipping, the others with food. Having just discovered Wine Woot in December, I have nothing in the “cellar” anywhere near the ages you recommend (outside of a 2008 Wellington Victory, and a 2011 Wellington Cabernet Sauvignon). So I think I will buy this offer…and keep it around for the 30th anniversary. Sounds like I will be taking her out to a restaurant with a nice wine cellar for the 20th
@gillisr If you wanted to grill a steak, I’d recommend doing the 2008 Victory, opening and decanting it at least a couple of hours before you want to drink it. Peter did a nice job with the 2008 (a generally less successful year than 2007 or 2009) and he’d probably say it wasn’t a bad idea to drink it.
Remember, I have the luxury of drinking older Cabernet than most folks, and I like older wines. Don’t be intimidated by that into thinking you must or ought to wait as long as I do. Ten is a good rule of thumb, though.
@gillisr@rpm I agree with all of that. In short, the best thing is to simply spatchcock a chicken, well seasoned, grill it, and serve the wine decanted for 2 hours at least. That’s really something. For me, simple foods with great wines, and simple wines for great food. Otherwise, it can be like trying to listen to 2 songs at the same time - a lot of noise.
@gillisr@jimsilver I’d tend to do Burgundy or Oregon Pinot Noir with chicken, but the advice about simple (but superb ingredients) food with great wine, and simple (but exceptionally well made) wines with great food is very sound. The exception is coq au vin - which is sublime with a grand cru Burundy in the dish and on the table. In the '80s, I was lucky to have that several times with 1964 Richebourg in the dish and on the table.
Blockquote @MarkDaSpark We’re a rare winery that can put on a vertical tasting of 30 vintages of Cab, with NO skips, and have EVERY ONE OF THEM be solid as a rock. Our wines last and last primarily because they are balanced - and the 15 and 16 are extremely well balanced. Much better than say the 14 and 11 but just as good if not better than the 12 and 13 vintages. Hold the non-reserve for 2 years, as long as 10. Hold the reserve for 5-7 and for as long as 20-25 under ideal conditions.
Curious to hear what people make of this. I admit I was raising my eyebrows at the stats on this one. (And the the advice to let it age, since I’ve always been taught - and found to be true- that the sign of a wine that ages well is a lower pH and lower alcohol). Plus, being picked at over 25 brix would leave it at over 16% abv if I’ve got my math right unless they de-alc’ed it a bit. At 3.8 pH (I still boggle at that), I’d expect it to be pretty flabby. So, I’m a skeptic, and interested to hear the reports as people receive it.
Well Novium, this got us talking today here in the office. The only reason you should have raised eyebrows on these stats is because they “hit the bullseye” dead-on, I promise! I think, and I could be wrong of course, you’re not looking at the whole picture (how could you, how could anyone unless they made the wine?) Our 3.8 pH is nearly perfect for our product, in fact, ever so slightly low for Napa. A 3.72 for example would be very, very intense - like a Bordeaux barrel sample “hard.” Similarly, 25 brix doesn’t translate to 16% alcohol unless you are using an incredibly precise (near perfect) conversion factor, which no one really has and is quite variable. 25 brix at harvest, which is an estimate in and of itself, translates to anywhere from 235 to 265 grams per liter sugar, meaning a weak conversion factor could leave the finished wine dry at only 14.2%. As far as de-alc is concerned we would NEVER put our wines through that. We don’t even have a glycol system here, and certainly not an Optical Sorter, so a reverse osmosis machine? Please…not a chance. Finally, and I’m not trying to shoot down your ideas here one by one, but I have to say low alcohol and low pH may contribute to the age-ability of wine in certain ways but are not leading indicators, nor should they be taken as such. I’ve had a million low pH wines that aged dreadfully - and of course, we’re not making Rieslings here either. One last thing, pH at harvest and pH at the finish are two different things, and through fermentation a wine will tend to sail haphazardly from the bottom to the top of the ranges, hopefully landing where you want them - for us exactly 3.84 (which for this vintage, a hole-in-one.) I really appreciate the questions though. We talked about this for an hour here…
@jimsilver I think we may have to agree to disagree here, although I think many of your arguments here are a bit unorthodox. I mean, just the problem of SO2 alone would keep me from ever letting a wine getting to such a high pH. And while the style in Napa has definitely trended towards juicier, riper, high alcohol, higher pH wines, I’ve not seen many (I can’t remember any, actually) that high. Perhaps orthodoxy needs to be challenged, and certainly high alcohol, high pH, overripe wines can be delicious things you can enjoy without needing to wait the twenty years, but I have been lucky enough to drink more than my fair share of 20, 30, and 40 year old wines and the great ones tended to fall in the 13.5% range ABV with pHs under 3.6ish.
The ones that didn’t fall into that range, but also had prolonged stays in the cellar…ended up in the vinegar barrel, which was a shame.
IIRC, Clark (@winesmith) has opined that one can make excellent and ageworthy wines at high pH. Also, while pH and titratable acidity are correlated they are not the same thing. I suspect these wines have a higher TA then the pH might suggest.
In fact, the 2010 Cab Franc he offered here while back had alcohol at 14.4% and a pH of 3.82.
@klezman TA’s listed at 6, and that might help, but my understanding always has been that pH is more important to aging because of things like how it influences oxygen uptake. It might not be impossible, but it seems unlikely. Enough so that if I had paid 50+ dollars for a bottle of wine, I wouldn’t be tempted to risk it, I’d just drink it now. But just in a broad sense, it seems reasonable to me that a wine can either be balanced to drink well immediately, or it can be balanced to drink well after the changes of years brings it into the correct balance, but not both.
@klezman you are right. It’s sadly rare, though. Part of that I think is because the market has shifted, and high alcohol, low pH, overripe and bombastic wines are a lot more accessible to the average buyer (esp one who is going to open it sooner rather than later.) But i think it is telling that she famously puts a lot of focus on paying attention to sugars & acid…and going against the trend for picking at 25 and above. I loved this quote of hers, because yes, exactly: “If I need to wait for flavors to come arounduntil 25°+ Brix and the natural acidity has plummeted, I’ve failed in the vineyard (or I’m growing the wrong thing in the wrong place).”
Ok, I’m just trying to be helpful here. There’s nothing unorthodox about these numbers or anything else I’ve said. No such problems with SO2 either. Our wines on offer here do not resemble the unbalanced wines you are referencing, nor do they resemble the low alcohol, low pH wines either, which exist here in the valley but are rare indeed. Before judging the wines based on 1976 harvest and vinification techniques, I suggest you try our 2015 wines for yourself. As a winery, we can string together 30 vintages of excellent single vineyard Cabernet, with no skips, putting us in a very, very small club. (In fact, an Atlanta, GA client of ours won that vertical tasting at a charity auction, and we’ll produce it for them early next year.)
Okay, but we’re talking pure chemistry at this point. You’ve got to like exponentially increase your S02 as pH goes up, and as to aging it’s well known that higher pHs increase oxygen uptake, accelerating aging. Do you have the tech sheets on your 30 year old vintages? Because I’m betting they weren’t made in the fruit bomb style, if only because that’s only recently popular. I don’t think you can find many 30 year old fine wines with 15.5% alcohol at ultra high pHs. That’s a modern fad.
But it’s beside the point. I guess my question here is why not just own it. Be like, “yes, we make really delicious wines and you don’t even have to wait 20 years to drink them.” That’s a selling point.
@jimsilver And thanks for hanging out with us and providing a winemakers’ prospective. Over the years, back on WW, many of us learned immensely from spirited discussions, and hope to continue here…
I too have generally thought lower pH was required, or at least desirable, in wines that were structured for the long haul. I have read the winemaking with higher pH chapter in Clarks’ book, but confess much of it is beyond my grasp.