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Cartlidge & Browne Winery is at the top of the California echelon for wineries producing abundant quantities of juicy, tasty, fairly-priced wines. Some people never lose sight of the fact that wine is meant to be provide pleasure. Why can't a wine be fruity, pure, concentrated, and full-bodied, yet sell for a reasonable price? These characteristics abound in these three 1999's, all of which are terrific bargains. The 1999 Zinfandel (13.1% alcohol) is reminiscent of some of the better 1998 Cotes du Rhones currently emerging from southern France. It offers a gutsy, peppery, and berry-scented nose, lush, ripe fruit, medium body and a supple texture. There are no hard edges to be found in this fruit-driven Zinfandel that begs to be drunk of the next 2-3 years.
The majority of the fruit for the 2001 Eighty-seven percent of this Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir was sourced from vineyards in the Sonoma-Carneros appellation and harvested 23.5° Brix. The balance of the blend, thirteen percent, is Syrah sourced from Elk Grove in the Sacramento River Delta area and harvested at 24.2° Brix. Both portions were tank fermented; the Pinot Noir portion was aged for 8 months in a 50/50 combination of French and American barrels, whereas the Syrah was aged for 6 months in American Oak barrels.
This wine displays bright aromas of cherry and strawberry, as well as a fine overlay of oak spice. Medium-bodied, with a smooth round texture, it offers plenty of fresh plum and cherry cider fruit flavors. Its attractive mouthfeel makes it easy to drink and yet vibrant through the finish.
The majority of the fruit for the 2001 Chardonnay came from two different parts of the Sacramento River Delta region. The largest lot (44%) was harvested at between 23.5° and 23.8° Brix from vineyards just east of Lodi, while a further 38% was harvested at between 23.5° and 24.4° Brix from the Clarksburg area west of the river. The balance of the blend (18%) came from three vineyards in the Russian River region of Sonoma County. All but 21% of the wine was fermented in barrel - the Russian River portion entirely in French oak, the Lodi portion entirely in American oak and the Clarksburg portion in a combination of 70% American and 30% French oak. Barrel stirring (batonage) was performed on 40% of the barrel fermented lots and all saw between 3 and 6 months of lees contact. 92% of the wine completed malolactic fermentation.
Extremely aromatic, this 2001 Chardonnay offers luscious tropical fruit flavors with ripe citrus highlights. The intense fruit is backed by toasty oak and creamy malolactic notes. Well balanced with a smooth, rich texture on the palate, the wine will be delightful as an accompaniment to light pastas, chicken and seafood or by itself as an aperitif.
Grapes from two regions of the Sacramento River Delta make up the majority of the 2001 Cartlidge & Browne Merlot. Vineyards near Clarksburg provided 51% of the fruit, while a further 31% came from the Lodi-Woodbridge area. The blend is rounded out with Cabernet Sauvignon (11.5%) and Syrah ( 6.5%).
All the wines were fermented in stainless steel. The Clarksburg Merlot was aged for 7 months entirely in American oak. The Lodi Merlot saw no barrel aging whatsoever. The Cabernet Sauvignon spent 10 months in a combination of French (75%) and American (25%) oak and the Syrah saw 8 months in a similar mix of barrels.
The wine shows a deep garnet color. Aromas of red and black currants carry through to the flavor profile, augmented by black cherry, plum and subtle oak. A smooth texture and mild tannins contribute to the pleasing balance of this medium-bodied wine.
As in previous years the lion’s share of the Cartlidge & Browne Syrah was sourced from vineyards near Elk Grove in the Sacramento River Delta area. This portion was fermented in two lots of roughly equal size with different yeasts. Malolactic was completed in barrel followed by 7 months of aging in a combination of 80% American and 20% French oak. The balance of the wine (21%) came from the southeast part of the Napa Valley. It went through fermentation in open-top tanks with regular punch downs, completed M-L in barrel and spent 10 months aging in a combination of 75% French and 25% American oak.
The finished wine displays a deep garnet color and rich aromas of plum, fig, licorice and oak spice. Flavors offer the rich fruit typical of Syrah, with ripe blackberry and black currant complemented by root spices, mild tannins and oak highlights.
As with previous vintages the Lodi-Woodbridge region provided most of the fruit for the Cartlidge & Browne Zinfandel. The Old Block vineyard, comprised of forty-to-fifty year old vines, contributed 49% of the fruit which was harvested at 24.0° Brix. Second crop from the same block and surrounding vineyards was harvested at 25.1° Brix and contributed another 40% to the blend. The balance (11%) is Syrah from Elk Grove which came in at a very ripe 25.6° Brix. The two Zinfandels were fermented in 4 different lots using a variety of yeasts. All the wine was aged for an average of 6 months in a combination of American (80%) and French (20%) oak barrels.
With a full, ruby color, the wine offers ripe, spicy aromas of plum, blackberry, anise, leather and black tea. The mouthfeel is broad and full-bodied and the flavors show plenty of black cherry and plum fruit. Just a suggestion of oak adds interesting notes of smokiness and rootspices.
The largest portion (43%) of this Cabernet Sauvignon comes from 15-to-20 year old vines in Stanislaus County. A further 23% was sourced from vineyards near Clarksburg in the Sacramento River Delta, while two premier North Coast grape growing regions provided the balance of the Cabernet portion of the wine: Sonoma County (16%) and Napa County (10%). Merlot (8%) completes the blend.
A very promising though unusually early vintage. Grapes came to ripeness quickly and provided excellent fruit quality. The Napa and Sonoma lots were both harvested at over 25° Brix, with exceptionally dark color, intense extraction and high tannins. These qualities are well balanced by the Stanislaus and Delta lots that offer more roundness and accessibility.
The Stanlislaus County wine and the Merlot saw no barrel aging whatsoever. The Sonoma and Napa lots each saw seven months on oak (60% French - 40% American) and the Sacramento River Delta portion was aged for 3 months in a combination of American (70%) and French (30% ) barrels.
The final blend offers a wine with classic Cabernet Sauvignon character - dense fruit flavors of blackcurrant and blackberry with delicious rootspice tones and an absence of too much herbal flavor that often dominates young Cabernet. The Merlot component further softens the tannins for a smooth, long finish with mild oak highlights.