2014 “Barlow Vineyards” Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga, Napa Valley
The nose is very full and pleasing, notes of sour cherry and red fruits dominate. Lovely vanilla integration from French oak barrel aging. The inky, dark hue of the wine is framed with a little white pepper. A nice balance of acidity means this wine will pair well with your favorite meals. Enjoy by 2034.
Varietal: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Calistoga, Napa Valley
Harvest Date: September 17, 2014
Brix at Harvest: 27.5
Cooperage: 100% French Oak
Production: 433 cases
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa Valley
On our fifth release of wine from Rutherford, this wine is deeply, inky black. Chalky, dusty characteristics predominate on the palate, with ample tannins framing the bold style of this wine. Dark red fruit bursts from the glass offering a subtle vanilla note from the French Oak barrels used to age the wine. Decant if you plan to drink in the next few years, or cellar to soften the structure and drink by 2036.
Laura and Michael Swanton know the many challenges of establishing a boutique winery dedicated to crafting small quantities of fine wine in the Napa Valley. They have experienced them all in their demanding, yet delicious, journey from fledging winery to award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel producers.
A long-time wine enthusiast, Owner and Proprietor Laura Swanton purchased the Calistoga winery estate that would become Laura Michael Wines from the Traulsen family in 1999. At the time, Laura was a sales specialist with Cisco Systems in San Jose. It was a career that required intimate knowledge of high-tech product application. Knowing how the technology worked was critical to her success in selling the product.
At the time Laura purchased the winery, Michael had embarked on an independent career in power generation and services, a career that spanned nearly two decades. When they came together in 2006, their current journey started and continues to this day.
Today, their tenacity for learning systems and science is directed at running their small winery and vineyard estate dedicated to limited-production, premium red wines. Since 1999, Laura has managed all winemaking processes from grape sourcing to the logistics of launching and operating a winery. Her zeal to understand winegrowing at its root has her pruning, picking, irrigating and collecting samples in the vineyard. A thirst for winemaking knowledge encourages her participation in crush, pump-overs, racking and bottling.
“We do it all,” says Laura. “It’s so important that we work alongside every member of our team from the temporary harvest help to our consulting winemaker. We are not ones to stand on the sidelines, and fortunately because we are as small as we are, we can be actively involved in every aspect of this business.”
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@chipgreen@mrn1@pjmartin Hi Mates…I just saw this offer. I’m with my wife as she’s recovering from her knee replacement yesterday. She’s doing great!
Reading the description here, I saw Laura Michaels and Rutherford. Here’s my thoughts: It’s tough to split a case of two different vineyards/varietals/etc!
Four bottles gives three mates two bottles of each vineyard. One to open whenever and the other to age. I talked to my son and I think he and I will be splitting a case. Still waiting to hear from him, but if he decides not to buy, I have no problem since I have a heck of a lot of wine and a btl of 2008 and 2011 Barlow Vineyard Cab.
@Boatman72@chipgreen@mrn1@msten@pjmartin im gonna order a case. I can keep it all or share a few. I still gotta get up
to Cleve and grab the Winesmith pinots from @mrn1. Im finding Canton is just a wee bit far for pleasant splitting with you all lol.
@scott0210 My son’s order got cancelled because of a snafu. By the time he got a reply, cases were sold out. If you want to unload 4 btls (2 of each vineyard). I’ll take them. No problem if you want to hold onto the balance.
I noticed that Medina county was no longer lit up and wondered what happened. Bummer! That would be great to rent a Gervasi Villa and I agree with your implication that their wines aren’t the best, haha. I guess they are also opening up a boutique hotel but heard that it’s already booked months in advance.
@scott0210 Thanks for getting back to me! No problem for me! Like I explained to my son, things happen at crazy times, and in this case, I’ve got so much wine, I could open my own wine shop, or at least pop a ton of corks!!!
@chipgreen@scott0210, @pjmartin, @mrn1 Gervasi is definitely pricey, but it does have a nice atmosphere! All our friends that meet in FL thought about renting their Farmhouse, but when we found out the cost it was like…YIKES!!! We ended up just having dinner in the loft of one of their restaurants!! The logistics would be a good place for Splitsville and a Bocce tournament!
Ok, so if you look back at my post history, you’ll see I’m a white wine/sparkler sometimes rose kind of person. My normal wine glass is a Tervis cup that says “Suck it up, buttercup.” I’m sensitive to pepper and tend to avoid much of it in food as I find it overwhelming.
So getting a Cab Sauvignon to Lab Rat has truly struck fear into my heart. I dug through the cabinets to find the red wine glasses that are buried because those friends just have given up on coming over. 4-5 years old, not worried about sediment, so uncorked. Cork is pretty with a deep red stain.
The nose is overwhelmingly tannin/pepper/tobacco. I dug out the aerator, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to taste anything if I didn’t try. I don’t own a decanter, so that was right out. Very pretty in the glass, deep purple with a garnet edge.
First sip tasted like it smelled, tannin tobacco and pepper. This is definitely a food wine. It was late and we had eaten hours ago, so I dug through the cheeses in the fridge. The creamy Brie wilted, the sharp white cheddar held, but was quaking in it’s boots. The only cheese I had that stood up well was an 8 year sharp cheddar with a salt rind. I left it in the glass for 20 minutes and came back to it with a chocolate chip brownie. The tannins were less pronounced, but the pepper and tobacco were still so prominent, I couldn’t find the black current or any fruit for that matter. DH agreed, he prefers reds, but the more fruit forward pinots. The brownie didn’t bring out any chocolate undertones in the wine, but it wasn’t overwhelmed. Left the rest for the next day.
Tried another ounce the next afternoon, still through the aerator, less tannin today, still pepper/smoke, but a hint of black currant, maybe a little plum. Very dry mouth feel. Somewhat bright, I get a bit of what I call minerality after the pepper fades. This was not with food. Will have more with dinner.
Dinner- pan seared rare/medium rare ribeye, smashed potatoes, roasted asparagus. The peppery nature of the wine complemented all three dishes. Tasted much the same as it did this afternoon.
All in all, this is not what I’d call an approachable wine for red novices. I’m sure anybody whose palette is geared towards cabs would appreciate this, but that just isn’t me. It benefitted from aeration at it’s current stage. I wonder if it wouldn’t benefit from another year or so of aging? The pepper/tobacco profile was just too overwhelming for my palette to get at much else, but I suspect that’s more on me than the wine.
I didn’t notice that the second bottle (Calistoga) was different, just cracked it open now. Flavor is pretty similar to the Rutherford initially, but will post some more thoughts as it opens up.
Yes, I think that it is rather complex. It’s a bold wine, not for the faint of heart. The kind of descriptors that I understand Cab Sauvignon lovers relish. I don’t want my inability to enjoy this stop anyone who loves Cabs from buying this. Like I said in my review, it’s not you (the wine), it’s me.
@mtb002 If you are a white wine consumer, I can understand your fear of tasting dry red age worthy wines. Your Rat Report was very much appreciated and was what I was looking for!! Looks like both will age nicely for an additional15 or more years knowing this wine is from Laura.
@mtb002reading about the 2014 harvest it sounds like “dark and mysterious” is par for the course. I’d say it needs more than a year or two to reach it’s peak. Can’t go wrong with Laura Michael Cabs imho but you will have to wait a while. Not sure there was a point having somebody drink it so early actually.
I think that getting someone to try something they don’t normally drink is a good thing, get you out of a rut, maybe you even buy something you wouldn’t ordinarily. However, in my case, I do feel a little silly trying to review such a probably good wine that my palette is just incompatible with. I wrote the majority of my review ahead of time, so when I saw the maker mention it would benefit from cellaring, I was relieved that my mention of similar thought wasn’t going to be rude.
They can see what we’ve bought in the past, but other than that, I don’t know. Once again, I don’t mind them sending something I wouldn’t ordinarily drink. If I’m going to nitpick anything, I wish they had said in the notification email what the wine was. I could have tried to round up a few people who could have given better specifics than me, but I only had 24 hours by the time I got the box.
WW had a lab rat signup questionnaire (in 2016? 2017?) that asked about wine preferences but that was a one-time thing IIRC. Here, they just started going down the list of Kickstarters who donated at or above the required level. Perhaps at some point they will break out the questionnaire again.
@chipgreen@kaolis@mtb002 That was what I remembered from the WW program, but was not 100% sure. The question should be asked: What wine(s) do you drink regularly/prefer? If I don’t drink PN, don’t send me PN to lab rat, for example. Again, I thought the lab rat review (from mtb002) was very good.
@jmdavidson1@rjquillin Hi all! Unfortunately we don’t have the bandwidth to look through previous purchase history before making the decisions. HOWEVER, we have under 10 Kickstarter rats remaining and a few people who have emailed me specifically to receive bottles. After that, expect to see the return of the questionnaire! It’s helpful for me too.
I’m happy to do it again anytime. This is such a cool system, I’m glad to participate. As I mentioned above, letting us know the varietal in the notification email would let us prepare better if we feel our review would benefit from a few different palettes. Thanks for all the hard work organizing this. I imagine we’re a bit like herding tipsy cats.
@rlmanzo Don’t wait on @rpm for this one. Laura and Michael have consistently done some great wines (yes, there have been a couple of so-so wines here and there, but then that happens with many winemakers).
Tannins and body - you will hear the word “infanticide” from some cab drinkers for anything this young. Some people don’t mind, some will wait. Its all in your preference and how patient you are. If you can wait a few years on this one in your cellar, I think it will reward you.
@deadlyapp I just finished a KR Esoterica Pinot Noir that I had held onto for a bit and reached out to Kent asking where I could get more of the Esoterica…turns out nowhere. Doesn’t leave the SF Bay area
@deadlyapp@kapok6@karenhynes@Winedavid49 The same mixed case was offered here again on July 6:
Hi all - Kent here. I know that this is a repeat, but it is a VERY GOOD repeat!..both are lovely wines that you would have to try very very hard not to like. Take advantage as we are almost out on both and there will be no “3rd go”.
Laura Michael (née Zahtilla) has never let me down. I have pulled 10 year old Zins from my cellar that are still fantastic, as are her Cabs. It is always possible for her to have a bad year, but here is a case (along with Cathy Corison) where I would just purchase based on the winemaker’s reputation.
@winedavid49@knlprez@bolligra After searching the forum, finally found this thread. Opened one of the Rutherford as a New Years gift to myself - immediate wet newspaper smell from the bottle. Corked - very sour-tasting. Opened the other one I have and it was fine (and good), but disappointed in another corked bottle…and from a relatively expensive wine that got poured down the drain (not the way to celebrate 2022!). Hoping my split-mates have/had better luck - 50% Rutherford corked, for me (the Calistoga were both fine, from consumption earlier in 2021)!
@CObrent Super nice that WD will try to fix it, but you can (and imo, should) always go to the winery. They need to know and also be offered a chance to replace the bottle. No good proprietor will want substandard product out on the market.