Mark Franks revisits Cult Cabs
November 23, 2002
Aldo Cuccina Restaurant, Wayne, New Jersey

My Tasting Notes
Link to Discussion Forum

Seven of us got together last evening over dinner to open some eleven bottles of luxury wine. Mark Franks as well as Rich and Joan Byrne were our distinguished guests. Steve and Nancy Levy hosted the pre-tasting at there lovely new home in Kinnelon, New Jersey. For  warm up's Steve and Rich ended up opening a '94 Caymus Special Select, a '97 Della Valle, a Hendry Cabernet and one or two other starters. Following this tasting, we headed over to the restaurant for dinner and the main course of Cult Cabs.

All the wines were served unblind in flights of two. The initial flight consisted of the '95 Colgin and the '95 Bryant Family. A '96 Bryant Family and '99 Araujo made up flight two. Flight three consisted of the '99 Ridge Monte Bello and '94 Insignia. The last two wines in the line up were a 2000 Montelena Petite Syrah and a '85 Langmeil Tawny Port. This was the first time that I had a chance to sample the Petite Syrah and the Tawny. To my notes:  

1995 Colgin- Probably the only wine in this line up that has such a distinctive nose and flavor profile that I'm sure I could pick it out blind. Medium fullish color, slightly less pigmented than the last time I sampled it. Nose opens with waves of sweet Blueberry like aromatics. Palate mirrors the nose and comes across with Blueberry, plum jam, light to moderate toast and minerals. More elegant than the intense fruit bomb this wine once was. Nonetheless, Colgin is quite flavorful and delicious to drink today. Drink it over the next five to seven years. My sixth tasting note, score it "94".

1995 Bryant Family- Deep, dark fullish color suggesting ink and oil. The wine offered up a  full throttle bouquet suggesting chocolate, blueberry and a touch of rhubarb. Palate offers up a medium full to full-bodied texture and personality with excellent balance, stunning extract and a wonderfully seamless mouth-feel. Finishes with a 25 to 30 second residual sensation. There were also significant underlying tannins present. However, they were non obtrusive or coarse tannins. Drink it over the next ten to twelve years. My fifth tasting note and a memorable one at that, score it "97"

1996 Bryant Family-  Like many wines from the '96 vintage, Bryant Family is drinking wonderfully today!  In the mouth, the wine is literally oozing with decadently rich, ripe, black currant and Blueberry like flavors leading to a super sexy mouth feel. Add to that a smoky/roasted component that was just terrific. The tannins are ripe and round and the mouth-feel is pure velvet. No rough edges here. Delicious! Drink it over the next seven to ten years. My first tasting note, score it "97"!

1999 Araujo- This is a wine that was opened some forty eight hours in advance of dinner. Very primary on both nose and palate. In the mouth, searing tannins dominate the attack. In addition to the tannins, the wine offers up a good dose of alcohol with a medium to fullish concentration. Add to that a coarse, dry leather quality. Finishes with a thirty-second residual sensation. There is great promise here. Hold for two to three years. My first tasting note, score it "96".

1999 Ridge Monte Bello- Like the '99 Araujo, the 1999 Monte Bello was opened more than thirty hours in advance.  While I love Monte Bello, the 1999 is almost completely shut down! You heard it right sports fans. The tannins have firmed up and taken hold of the '99 Monte Bello. Yup, she's closed for business!  What it did show were primary core fruit flavors suggesting currants and plums. Add to that smoke, road tar, and moderate toast. The Monte Bello does not possess the aromatic intensity and mouth feel of the Bryant Family Duo but is considerably more concentrated and built for the long haul. On the palate, searing tannins conceal the mountain of densely packed core fruit flavors. The 1999 Ridge Monte Bello does possess great power, extract and grip and should drink and improve over the next fifteen to twenty years or more. Hold for three to five years. My first tasting note, score it 97+".