Herzog Wine Cellars continues to impress with red wines from 2018, 2019, and now the 2020 vintages
In case you missed the last Herzog Wine Cellars post – please check that out here, I see no need to repeat all of the same content! That said – wow! The 2017 vintage was tough, it was tough for all of Cali, it was a bad vintage. Thankfully, 2017 is past us, and we have 2018 and 2019 looking mighty fine, given the scores/notes from the last post and the ones from this new tasting. Throw in ONE 2020 red wine, the 2020 Herzog Choreograph, which is fun, extremely well balanced, and literally what I wrote – fun!
The other wines in the tasting are from 2018 and 2019 and they garnered QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) WINNER, GREAT, GOOD, or EVEN scores. Still, the most impressive wines, from this tasting, came from the 2019 vintage, the 2019 Herzog Pinot Noir, Reserve, and the 2019 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, Lake County. There were also two 2018 wines, the WINNING 2018 Herzog Merlot, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley, a return after almost 20 years of hiatus. Along with the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, Napa Valley. The 2019 French and American Oak wines were not as good as in previous vintages. Also, the 2019 Lineage Pinot Noir was not as good as previous vintages, though I liked the Lineage Chardonnay.
I will keep this short, so my many thanks to Joseph Herzog, David Whittemore, Joe Hurliman, and Alicia Wilbur for answering my many emails and calls. Be well to you all, California is getting even crazier – stay safe guys! The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2018 Herzog Merlot, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
This is the return of the Alexander Valley Merlot – Miles is dead (not in real life but you get the gist)! The nose on this wine calls to mind a Zinfandel more than a Merlot, which is helped by what I think is sweet American Oak, followed by hickory, sweet sugar/toffee notes, followed by blue and red fruit, licorice, with violet notes, and smoke. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine, to start shows more like Zinfandel than Merlot, with enough complexity to grab you, followed by fine tannins to start, but they grip and drape with time, strawberry, boysenberry, cranberry, and hints of pomegranate, with intense garrigue, sweet zin berry notes, and everything that makes me want to say this is a Zinfandel. The finish is long, green, red, smoky, and gripping with tannin, boysenberry, leather, and more violets. You see why I think this is a Zinfandel! With more time the wine does not change, in the end, it is a nice wine that does not taste like a Merlot to me. (tasted March 2021)
2018 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, Napa Valley (M) – Score: 89 (QPR: EVEN)
This wine continues a storied tradition of sweet oak, ripe fruit, smoke galore, toast, and did I say oak? The nose on this wine is ripe, with sweet oak, dense black fruit, more oak, floral notes, heather, roasted herb, and hints of animal aromas. The mouth on this full-bodied assault vehicle is ripe, with enough oak to build a house, followed by intense sweet dill, loads of blackberry, candied plum, raspberry, dark plum confit, boysenberry, with oregano, eucalyptus, black pepper, anise, intense tannin, and sweet vanilla. The finish is smoked, toasted, and oaked to the max, with more oak, black fruit, leather, sweet spices, nutmeg, cacao, loads of cedar, gravel, and violet. WOW, this is an oak monster and one that may come around in 10 years. Until then either enjoy it this way, wait it out, or enjoy the INCREDIBLE Alexander Valley cabernet instead. With time the oak recedes a bit but it still is overpowering and not in the same ballpark as the Alexander valley. Drink from 2023 until 2033. (tasted April 2021)
2019 Herzog Pinot Noir, Reserve – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
The nose on this wine starts very with lots of oak and not much else – this wine needs time to come around. Once the wine fully opens, the nose shows impressive control, this reminds me of Burgundy more than of California, this wine comes in at 13.5% ABV and I think that helps it to show better control, with notes of sweet oak, roasted herb, floral notes of violets and rose petals, with lovely red fruit, and iron, The mouth on this medium-bodied wine has just enough acid and lovely tannin to keep this whole thing humming, with nice green notes, garrigue, more floral notes, followed by mouth-draping tannin, with a lovely salinity, impressive fruit-focus of dark Kirsch cherry and raspberry, with smoke, toast, loam, earth, and foliage. The finish is long, green, red, and toasty, with more cherry, intense roasted herb, smoke, coffee, and mineral/charcoal. Bravo! Drink from 2023 until 2031. (tasted March 2021)
2019 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, Lake County (M) – Score: 92+ (QPR: WINNER)
This is a lovely wine, it reminds me of the 2017 lake County Cabernet Sauvignon, just a tad less ripe and more fruit-focused. The nose on this wine is lovely. This is a classic Cabernet Sauvignon, in all the right ways, screaming mineral, insane graphite, pencil shavings, with ripe green, black, and lovely red fruit, with tar, loads of roasted herb, and classic garrigue. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is softer than 2017, nice acidity in the middle, wrapped by intense tannin, nice extraction, blackberry, juicy raspberry, hints of boysenberry, and loads of minerality, all coming together quite nicely. The finish is long, green, mineral-driven, but black and blue, with leather, sweet spices, with mineral lingering long, sweet smoking tobacco, and juicy boysenberry staying long. Bravo!!! Drink from 2023 until 2030. (tasted April 2021)
2019 Herzog Chardonnay, Lineage (M) – Score: 90 (QPR: GREAT)
This is a classic Cali Chard with less oak than in previous vintages, which I like. I wish it had a drop more acid, but overall this wine needs time, it is stunted right now, it can use a month or two more, and then it will be ready to go. After the wine opens, the nose on this wine is calm and relaxed, it has notes of sweet oak, butterscotch, nice apple pie, toast, peach, and pear. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine needs time to open, once it does, the mouth is ripe, but well-controlled, with, Asian pear, sweet oak, guava, hints of almonds, walnuts, and a nice viscous mouthfeel. The finish is long, sweet, balanced, with green notes, yellow apple, pear, and more toast. Drink from July 2021 until 2024. (tasted March 2021)
2019 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Variations, French Oak (M) – Score: 90 (QPR: GREAT)
The reason why I find these two wines fun (The American and French oak Variations) of the same wine is you get to see what oak does to wine. Here is the same wine, we are told, put into two different barrel styles, French and American oak, again according to the winery. The outcome is fun, in the American Oak, the sweet oak notes overpower the otherwise, very nice wine, clearly impacting the mineral, red fruit, green notes, and herbs from expressing themselves – it will be fun to see how the American Oak changes over time. The nose on this wine, the French Oak version, is lovely, much more to my liking, the notes are more subdued, with the fruit being able to express itself, lovely mineral, charcoal, smoke, herbs, dirt, with nice ripe but well-balanced fruit, tarragon, mint, and roasted herbs. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine shows the same weight as the American Oak version, but it is more elegant, with the same acidity, mouth-draping tannin, but a bit more extraction, more fruit-focus, overall presenting better, still the sweet dill is present, but far subdued, with blackberry, red plum, blueberry, strawberry, earth, graphite, and lovely roasted herb. The finish is long, green, with more herbs, but with a nice fruit focus, dark chocolate, and an overall very nice wine. Drink by 2028. (tasted April 2021)
2019 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Variations, American Oak (M) – Score: 89 (QPR: GOOD)
I have never been a huge fan of American Oak and this case is no different, it is a fine wine, but the oak shows hard, still, it is a solid wine. The nose on this wine shows sweet oak, sweet dill, tarragon, sweet spices, and black fruit. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice, well-balanced, but the sweet oak shows with a lovely mouthfeel, tactile and fresh, with smoke, green notes, blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, and sweet vanilla, with searing acid, mouth coating tannin, and more sweet notes. The finish is long, sweet, controlled, and nice, with vanilla, black fruit, and more sweet dill. Drink by 2026. (tasted April 2021)
2019 Herzog Pinot Noir, Lineage (M) – Score: 86 (QPR: GOOD)
This wine came out hot from the bottle and while that calms down it is too ripe for me, it loses its appeal and it becomes highly one-dimensional, cherry lifesavers and not much else, sadly. The nose, body, and the whole wine are just that, oak, ripe candied cherry, cherry lifesavers, and more oak, I do not see much past that. Drink by 2025. (tasted March 2021)
2020 Herzog Choreograph, Lineage (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
Another WINNER score for Herzog, thankfully 2017 is behind us and we have great wines to look forward to! This wine is a field blend of many varietals and I can feel a fair amount of Zinfandel on it, along with Mourvedre, but not sure what else. The nose on this wine is ripe but controlled with acidity, with expressive blue fruit, black and red as well, with floral notes, heather, rosehip, along with some candy, hints of earth, toast, and roasted tarragon. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is ripe but again controlled, very fruity, with good balance, showing boysenberry, Zinberry, with nice acidity to balance it out, soft tannin, nice mineral, smoke, and lovely sweet spices. The finish is long, ripe, balanced, with roasted herb, smoked meat, cinnamon, vanilla, more red and blue fruit, and nice smoking tobacco with a chocolate background. Bravo! With time the wine opens further and reminds me of the original One-Two Punch! Drink until 2025. (tasted April 2021)
Posted on April 7, 2021, in Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Wine, QPR Post, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged Alexander Valley, American Oak, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Choreograph, French Oak, Herzog Cellars Winery, Lake County, Lineage, Merlot, Napa Valley, Pinot Noir, Reserve, Special Reserve, Variations. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.